HOUSTON, TX (3-27-2014) – In a case brought by commercial fishermen, seafood processors and trade groups closely associated with the Environmental Defense Fund, a federal district judge acknowledged this week that federal management of recreational anglers is deeply flawed and in need of overhaul. The lawsuit essentially challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s policy of setting hard quotas for the recreational sector without timely or reliable means to manage to such a standard.
“The judge ruled the only way she could given the realities of the federal fishery management system,” said Bill Bird, vice chairman of the National Government Relations Committee for the Coastal Conservation Association, which intervened on behalf of the interests of recreational anglers. “Under federal management, the rules of this fishery are designed exclusively to manage a few, elite commercial businesses seeking to profit from the sale of a public resource. While the plaintiffs simply intended this case to result in severe curtailment of the recreational sector, this decision also makes it abundantly clear that recreational anglers are at a dead end under federal management unless a solution can be found to suit their needs.”
Coastal Conservation Association of Florida (CCA) will host its inaugural Day on the Hill at the Capitol building courtyard during Florida’s Legislative Session on March 20, 2014. CCA Florida is a statewide, non‐profit marine organization working to protect the state's marine resources and the interests of saltwater anglers. Comprised of 31 local chapters from Pensacola to the Keys, we support strong, resource‐based law enforcement, access to the resource for recreational fishing, and strong, fairly‐balanced regulations to protect state and federal fish stocks. CCA Florida is part of the Coastal Conservation Association a National organization with 100,000 members.
[readon url="https://www.ccaflorida.org/docs/Snapper_Briefing02282014_WEB.pdf" target="_blank"]Download Briefing PDF[/readon]
The Coastal Conservation Association-FL (“CCA”) is pleased to submit its comments to the Supplement Draft General Management Plan and specifically to the Preferred Alternative, the Alternative 6. CCA has been involved in this process for over ten (10) years and its local members have actively participated in the process. Many of CCA’s members have been lifelong users of the park and were active in this process. It is from that background that these comments are made.
CCA was formed to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources and its objective is to conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of those coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. CCA is the largest organization of its kind in the United States and has over 100,000 members with almost 10,000 located in the State of Florida. Many of CCA’s members, both local and from other states enjoy fishing in Florida and especially in the waters of Biscayne National Park.
Recreational fishing in Florida is a multi-billion dollar industry and its value to the State exceeds that of citrus. Recreational fishing not only is a significant economic engine, but it provides good wholesome activities for families and people of all backgrounds. Its social impact can’t be underestimated. The Park is situated in the sportfishing and arguably the boating capital of America.
Biscayne National Parks (BNP) new preferred alternative for its Draft General Management Plan (GMP) provides some relief for recreational anglers from the previous alternatives. In the past, CCA Florida has seen alternatives introduced by BNP that would close vast areas to fishing and boating enthusiasts. CCA Florida is relieved to see that the preferred alternative has removed the previous large, no fishing zones and reduced the size of the no motor zones. CCA Florida objected to these closures and believes that such closures should be seen as the last resort and not a starting point.
Alternative 6 establishes a Special Recreational Zone (SRZ) in place of the no fishing zone. Angler access to the SRZ will be by permit only and the plan will allow for 500 annual permits to be issued. Out of the 500 permits, 430 will be put into a lottery system for recreational anglers and 70 will be for licensed guides.
CCA FLORIDA STRONGLY OPPOSES THE USE OF
MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AND MOSQUITO LAGOON AREA FOR PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL SPACE LAUNCH SITE!
MAJOR ADVERSE IMPACTS ARE EXPECTED ON EVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, CRITICAL HABITAT, AND PUBLIC ANGLER ACCESS.
OPPOSE THE USE OF PUBLICLY OWNED WILDLIFE REFUGE LANDS FOR COMMERCIAL LAUNCH SITES.
ACT NOW! SEND YOUR EMAIL COMMENTS AND ATTEND UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FEB. 11 AND 12!
REASONS TO OPPOSE THE PROPOSAL
The area encompassing Mosquito Lagoon, the northern reaches of the Indian River Lagoon, the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are essentially the most pristine lands and waters left along Florida’s east coast. The area is also essential habitat for many birds and aquatic animals, some of which are endangered or federally protected. A large number of anglers, hunters, bird watchers, manatee watchers, paddlers and other wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts consider the area a prime destination for their avocations. The economic benefit from those enthusiasts to the State of Florida and those who live in the vicinity is immense, which is to say nothing of the tremendous recreational benefits conferred upon those enthusiasts by experiencing the area in what is largely its natural condition.
It’s called the “Friday news dump.”
The White House, other federal agencies and even public corporations have often set the release of bad news and unflattering documents to late Friday afternoon in the hopes that whatever is being released will be ignored or missed or forgotten over the course of the weekend.
Got a scandal? Dump it on Friday.
Got a controversy? Dump it on Friday.
Got a federal policy disaster? Dump it on Friday.
BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK PUBLIC COMMENT
DECEMBER 9th, 10th & 11th
Biscayne National Park will hold three public comment sessions next week concerning its “Supplemental Draft General Management Plan” (GMP). CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your opinion. The National Park Service (NPS) GMP contains seven alternatives, two of which are new. Alternatives 6 and 7 each establish a “Special Recreation Zone” (SRZ). Under Alternative 6 the following rules will apply within the SRZ:
Under Alternative 6 access to the SRZ will be allowed based upon a limited number of annual permits (430 to recreational fishermen / 70 to guides / none for spear fishing). Alternative 7 is essentially identical to Alternative 6 except that it allows general access to the SRZ, but, it is completely closed to fishing during the summer months.
Alternate 6 is the NPS new preferred alternative and it eliminates the large marine reserve (no fishing zone) that was universally rejected by Florida's recreational anglers. The preferred alternative also removes the large no combustion engine zones and in their place includes slow-speed and no-wake zones.
CCA has concerns with the new preferred alternative offering such a limited number of annual permits. The plan does not require the permit to be used or forfeited; nor, does it allow for the issuance of short-term permits.
Shared permits would allow for more access and should include short duration access for visitors, including out of state anglers that desire to fish the Park as part of their vacation. The Preferred Alternative prohibits anchoring within the SRZ except when attached to a mooring buoy. Since there are very few of these mooring buoys currently in place, users will be effectively prohibited from fishing in many instances. CCA believes the NPS must also include a plan and fund additional mooring buoys to provide realistic access and avoid user conflicts. If, as suggested in the plan, there is concern for the SRZ’s grouper population, descending devices could be required. The NPS should also consider limited access for seasonal trolling for pelagic species.
The NPS needs to address concerns of those who spearfish or fish east of the Park's boundary and that transit through the Park's SRZ as they return to port. Thus, direct transit through the SRZ with disallowed gear stowed should be permitted.
The NPS will hold three public comment sessions. All interested parties are encouraged to attend at least one of the three identical public meetings as follows:
1. December 9th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Newman Alumni Center, University of Miami, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL
2. December 10th, 6:00 -9:00 p.m.
City Hall, Commission Chambers, 404 West Palm Drive, Florida City, FL
3. December 11th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Key Largo, 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL
CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your concerns regarding the Preferred Alternative. Ask the NPS to increase the number of SRZ permits, set aside a number of permits for shared use including seasonal or split day access and require that permits which are not used within an established time period to be available for reassignment. Tell the NPS that the prohibition on anchoring should not be implemented until funding and installation of mooring buoys is undertaken. The Park Service must also provide for through transit of those who have legally taken fish outside the SRZ.
If you are unable to attend one of the comment sessions, please click here to review the GMP and electronically provide your comments.