The Honorable Rick Scott
Office of the Governor
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Dear Governor Scott:
We, the undersigned, are making a formal complaint regarding the Our Florida Reefs Community Working Group (OFR) process that is developing recommendations for the management of the southeast Florida coral reef tract from Stuart to Key Biscayne. As Governor, we greatly appreciate your continued recognition of the value recreational fishing and boating brings to our State and the importance of sustainable resources and environmental responsibility. With this in mind, we have serious concerns that OFR’s recommendations relating to fishing restrictions and additional federal oversight over our state’s fisheries are not based on sound scientific principles and that the process used to generate those recommendations was significantly flawed. While OFR lacks regulatory authority, their recommendations will carry significant weight and will be used by outside entities and agencies to gain control of fisheries management in our own state waters.
The long-awaited red drum stock assessment was presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) this week, and the initial results show cause for concern.
The Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) for both the southern portion of the stock (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) and the northern portion (North Carolina and points north) should be at least 30 percent. This means the spawning stock for red drum must be at least 30 percent that of an unfished stock. The estimates revealed this week indicate an SPR of 17 percent for the southern portion and just 9.1 percent for the northern portion. Recreational anglers in several states along the Atlantic Coast have voiced concerns about the status of the red drum population, but these estimates, if correct, are alarming. They indicate stocks could be slipping below a level needed to maintain a healthy stock.