FORT MYERS, Fla. – The federal government is already tracking commercial fishermen, but now they want to keep a close eye on charter boats using a GPS monitoring system.
Charter boat captains feel a little hurt, arguing that if the federal government is allowed to pursue them in the Gulf of Mexico, they must give up their privacy.
Six Captains are questioning this new requirement and a judge has ruled the matter can proceed as a class action lawsuit.
Charter captains already have to set their course for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration known as NOAA using an app, but a tracking device would check everything they fill out.
“It’s like wearing an ankle cuff. There is nowhere to go without this tracking device showing someone where you are, ”said Captain Allen Walburn.
Walburn, the owner of A&B Charters, is among those who have filed a class action lawsuit against federal regulations that have been in the works for years.
“I don’t know a single charter boat in the world that isn’t upset about it,” said Walburn.
The regulations that require trackers went into effect in January. The government has not set a date to request it.
Attorney John Vecchione argues the government has not given a valid reason to hire the trackers.
“I think they just do it because they can,” said Vecchione.
He hopes the matter can be resolved before the trial.
A judge could make a final decision as early as October.
A copy of the lawsuit can be read here: