In November 2018, CCA Florida sent the attached letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding our concern of the use of traps for seabass harvest in Gulf federal waters. Specifically, we asked the FWC to create a by catch limit of seabass that could be landed in state waters using crab traps. We’ll continue to update members as news is available.
November 28, 2018
Chairman Bo Rivard
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
Dear Chairman Rivard and FWC Commissioners,
For over 30 years, CCA Florida has been a voice for conservation of our marine resources. We advocate for reductions when needed, as well as push for access when supported by science. CCA and our members are also a concerned group when it comes to the gear used to harvest fish.
During a recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, a group of commercial fishermen spoke about creating a legal trap fishery for black sea bass in Gulf Federal waters. This would be an extension of the current black seabass fishery allowed within Florida’s state waters. A fishery that has no commercial limits regarding size or bag limit in Gulf State waters.
In 1980 the Florida Legislature banned all fish traps in Florida coastal waters except for pinfish traps and black seabass traps. In 1991 the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council banned fish traps except for black seabass traps and in 1996 the Gulf of Mexico Federal Fisheries Management Council ban the use of all fish traps in federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The Council also implemented a phase out program ending in 2006 for the federal waters off of Florida. Since the ban in Gulf waters, a group of stone crab fisherman have created a winter business using slightly modified crab traps to catch black sea bass in federal waters and are calling it by-catch. While it is not illegal, because by-catch is allowed, it is morally wrong and shows a disregard for fisheries management. These traps, when lost, will continue to catch and kill untold numbers of fish and other marine life for years to come.
On behalf of our members, CCA Florida respectfully asks the Commission to maintain your longstanding opposition to fish traps, as well as implementing a catch limit on the commercial black seabass fishery in state waters. We also ask that you not allow for the bycatch of finfish with blue crab or stone crab traps in Gulf federal waters.
CCA Director of Advocacy
Executive Director Sutton