South Atlantic Council Votes To Keep Bottom Fishing Open in South Atlantic

The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) opted last week not to close a controversial 4,800 square-mile stretch along the South Atlantic coast to reef fishish, and to reassess the red snapper populations along that stretch of coastline. However, both the commercial and recreational harvest of red snapper still is prohibited indefinitely along the entire South Atlantic coast.A ban on both commercial and recreational catches of red snapper imposed in January continues in federal waters between three miles and 200 miles off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and east Florida. The SAFMC was considering extending the ban to other reef species because fishermen targeting them often wind up catching red snapper which have a lower survival rate when brought to the surface.The SAFMC cited an estimated 80 percent reduction in bottom fishing in that area and dated scientific data on red snapper populations as their reasoning for allowing the zone to remain open to bottom fishing.

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