Recreational Fishing Organizations Support Delay to Ban Bottom Fishing
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), Center for Coastal Conservation, Congressional Sportsmen?s Foundation, International Game Fish Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) decision to delay a ban on all bottom fishing in a 5,000 square mile area of the South Atlantic until June 2011. An already existing ban on commercial and recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters from North Carolina to northeast Florida remains in effect. NOAA Fisheries is delaying implementing the ban on bottom-fishing until June to allow time to consider the results of a new scientific assessment of red snapper. According to NOAA Fisheries, the red snapper population is in better condition than was previously estimated.?The sportfishing industry and the recreational fishing and boating community are very glad for this reprieve,? said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. ?We thank NOAA Fisheries for listening to our concerns and our request to conduct a new red snapper assessment before making a decision that would have profound social and economic impacts on the South Atlantic region.?In June, ASA released an economic study that highlights the economic battering the southeast recreational fishing retail market would take should the current red snapper fishing ban in federal waters be expanded to all bottom fishing. The survey data showed that roughly 1,300 stores selling bait and tackle will be directly affected by the proposed bottom fishing ban. These businesses will lose an estimated $78 million in sales in the first year of the ban alone. This equates to an average loss of $60,000 in sales per store. In addition, the survey found that 578 jobs will be affected. The study was conducted by Georgetown Economic Services (GES), Washington, D.C. and furnished to NOAA and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.Nussman further said, ?Although today?s news is good, who knows what will happen six months from now in the South Atlantic? What will happen when legally established overfishing deadlines hit other fisheries lacking quality scientific data??Ending overfishing by the unprecedented 2010 and 2011 deadlines mandated in the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act have compelled NOAA Fisheries to consider a multi-species ban despite a dearth of evidence regarding how rebuilding of red snapper stocks would be affected by continued fishing on other stocks.?We are glad that NOAA Fisheries has listened and acted on our requests and the entire sportfishing community expresses its gratitude. However, the situation in the South Atlantic is a stark reminder of how urgently a legislative fix is needed to prevent what is clearly a dysfunctional management system of our public fishery resources,? said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson.The crisis in federal marine fisheries management is generating growing support for a legislative fix through the Fishery Conservation Transition Act (FCTA) which was introduced in both the House and Senate. The FCTA was introduced by bi-partisan Members of the U.S. Senate and House. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and David Vitter (R-LA) are co-sponsoring the Senate bill (S.3594). The House bill (H.R.6316) is co-authored by Congressional Sportsmen?s Caucus co-chairmen Representatives Dan Boren (D-OK); Paul Ryan (R-WS) and vice co-chairs Mike Ross (D-AR), and Jeff Miller (R-FL). Other co-sponsors of the House measure include Representatives Rodney Alexander (R-LA); Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam); Henry Brown (R-SC); Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Don Young (R-AK).This legislation has the backing of a broad coalition of recreational angling, boating and industry groups who see a critical need to give federal marine fisheries managers the time, resources and direction necessary to address chronic deficiencies in marine fisheries data collection and science that have plagued federal fisheries management.