Florida officials have decided to “go along to get along” with the feds, in further restricting recreational fisheries.
Here’s what an Activist Angler correspondent tells me:
It seems the folks at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission just can’t seem to wean themselves off the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service --- part of NOAA) financial tit. At a council meeting yesterday FWC commissioners voted, against overwhelming opposition from recreational anglers, to further restrict recreational angler access in state waters to remain “consistent” with federal rules that have both passed (gag) and are in the final stages of passage (amberjack).
Keep in mind that these rules are being passed to restrict recreational harvest and access while commercials are by and large still free to harvest large quantities of each species.
By the time it is all said and done, the 2011 recreational fishing season in the Gulf of Mexico will look like a stumbling drunk randomly threw darts at a board of open and closure dates for each popular fishery --- well the ones that are at least still open for some portion of the year.
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And speaking to the Tampa Tribune, Dan O’Hern of the Fishing Rights Alliance said this:
"The Gulf Council says recreational anglers caught 4 million grouper in 2009 and that 33 percent of those fish did not survive release — 1.3 million of them. The state of Florida, out there doing head-boat tagging and getting real information, observed only a 1-percent mortality for fish caught in 100 feet of water or less. But just for the sake of argument, let's make it five times as much, 5 percent; that's only a fraction of what the feds say we killed, but the feds ignore the real science provided by Florida researchers and use their own and pronounce that the fishery is being overharvested and has to be shut down."
O'Hern cited the current ban on harvest of gag grouper as one of many unneeded shutdowns of reef species since 2006.
"You can ask any one who fishes for reef fish how the numbers are for gags, for red grouper or for red snapper, and they will without exception tell you there are more fish in more places than there have been at any time since electronic fish finders were invented, and yet the feds insist that we are out of fish," O'Hern says.
"It doesn't make sense.”