CCA Florida has been engaged in the discussions and efforts to find lasting solutions to the complex problems resulting from the heavy rain levels in South Florida, the discharges from Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corps, and impacts on the marine resources and wildlife, the potential for flooding, the risk of devastation on agricultural businesses, tourism, and a huge risk of major economic loss in Florida.
Last Friday, Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency in a three County area of South Florida and he warns of even greater destruction if the Hubert Hoover dam is not repaired. We will continue to be involved in the discussions regarding solutions at every level of local, regional, state and federal government. The emergency declaration is attached for your review and it demonstrates the serious nature and the complexity of this major and potential environmental and economic disaster if not corrected.
Our Florida Reefs
c/o Francisco Pagan, Ph.D
Manager, FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program
Florida Coastal Office
1277 NE 79th Street/JFK Causeway
Miami, FL 33138-4206
Dear Mr. Pagan:
Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) supports healthy fisheries and habitat, including our coral reefs. When appropriate, CCA has supported a number of spawning season area closures in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. CCA has an active habitat restoration and artificial reefs placement program. CCA's mission is focused on scientific approaches to sound fisheries management for present and future generations to enjoy the resource. Within these parameters, CCA supports angler access.
First, Recommended Management Action (RMA) N-146 proposes up to 24 marine protected areas (MPAs) that in some cases will ban fishing over 20% to 30% of the reef tract from the northern boundary of Martin County to the southern boundary of Dade County. CCA does not support the establishment of MPAs unless, they are scientifically based, have stated goals and that MPAs are the last resort. CCA does not support using MPAs as a first stage management tool. While CCA is opposed to implementing no take/no fishing zones or Sanctuaries, CCA would ask that fisheries managers consider protecting spawning aggregations by limited time and area closures if warranted by stock assessments and good fisheries management practices.
CCA Florida strongly opposes the Corp of Engineers release of nutrient filled water from Lake Okeechobee that is poisoning the estuaries throughout the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie and Indian River Lagoon systems. It is beyond question that these discharges cause devastating impact to the coastal marine life so critical to all of our well-being. The untold impact on the health and welfare of the estuaries and the people and economies surrounding these vital waterways cannot be sustained. We applaud Governor Scott’s letter to the Secretary of the Army (copied here) requesting alternate routing of the discharges and support the actions he recommends.
Alabama senator proposes significant fixes for Gulf red snapper mess
WASHINGTON, DC (12-16-15) – Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) made clear in June that he intended to level the playing field for recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico by inserting several provisions dealing specifically with red snapper into the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill. With introduction of the Congressional Omnibus Appropriations bill today, Sen. Shelby strengthened his commitment to fight for anglers with specific language on state boundaries as well as red snapper allocation and stock assessments.
“Senator Shelby's leadership and commitment to tackling the challenges facing the red snapper fishery has paid off,” said Mitch Brownlee, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association. “ The provisions authored by Sen. Shelby included in the omnibus, specifically ensuring that the red snapper stocks are properly counted, that there is more local involvement in the process, and moving the state boundary lines from three to nine miles, are huge wins for fishermen across the Gulf. CCA is very grateful for Sen. Shelby's continued efforts, and we are optimistic that these changes will lead to what we all hope for – a longer fishing season."
NEW ORLEANS (10-28-15) – Coastal Conservation Association made its case today against Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico during oral arguments in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. CCA has been a vocal opponent of NOAA Fisheries’ action to create a new charter/for-hire sector in the red snapper fishery and reserve a significant percentage of the recreational quota solely for its use.
“After oral arguments today, we are hopeful that the Court will set aside the agency’s highly controversial management plan for Gulf of Mexico red snapper,” said Mitch Brownlee, chairman of CCA National. “In forcing this unpopular plan through the management system, NOAA Fisheries ignored overwhelming public opposition to appease certain for-profit stakeholders at the expense of the angling public. This is clearly not the way to manage public marine resources.”
WASHINGTON (October 23, 2015) – A coalition of organizations representing the saltwater recreational fishing and boating community applauded the House Resources subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans for its hearing on H.R. 3094, the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) and 28 bi-partisan co-sponsors, will grant legal recognition to the plan adopted by the Fish and Wildlife agencies of all five Gulf states to assume management of the Gulf red snapper in federal waters.
“The five Gulf states demonstrated once again that they are prepared to take over management of the fishery in a more responsible way,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “The states are already using state-of-the-art monitoring methods that will enable them to ensure the sustainability of the snapper fishery and enable every sector of the fishing community to equitably share in the harvest. Congress should act quickly to pass this important measure that will give legal recognition to the historic cooperative agreement by the Fish and Wildlife agencies of the five Gulf states - Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas -- to assume management of Gulf red snapper.”
Testimony at the hearing drew a stark line between those reaping financial benefits of federal management and angling families who have found their seasons continually shortened despite the largest population of red snapper in modern times.