For Immediate Release Contacts: Alex Conant / Brooke Sammon
Thursday, February 28, 2013 (202) 224-3041
SENATOR RUBIO ASKS FOR REVIEW OF STOCK ASSESSMENTS TO PROTECT FISHERIES AND FISHING COMMUNITIES IN GULF
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and senators from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina today sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office requesting a review of how the Department of Commerce conducts stock assessments in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. The stock assessments conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service are critical in maintaining the vitality of the fisheries, the fishing communities, and related industries in Florida and the region.
“Stock assessments are the foundation of sound fishery management,” said Rubio. “It is vital that, as we work to preserve the waters and resources surrounding Florida and other states, we base our management decisions on sound science. The report we’ve requested today will shed light on the decision-making process within the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will help us to determine the best path forward so that we can ensure the economic livelihood of the fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic and the industries that depend on them.”
Rubio is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. The letter is signed by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), David Vitter (R-LA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) and can be viewed by clicking here.
WHAT INDUSTRY EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
“Fishing organizations in the southeast, both commercial and recreational, salute Senator Marco Rubio for leading the effort to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) to provide the basic science needed for honest stock assessments,” said Bob Jones, Executive Director of Southeastern Fisheries Association. “The numbers of fish calculated in the federal waters through stock assessments are critical in determining quotas, seasons, allowable gear, bycatch and all aspects pertaining to the commercial and recreational harvest of seafood. The fishing and tourism industry dependent on fresh local seafood thanks all the Senators who are working to improve the management of our sustainable marine resources.”
“As Chairman of the Data Collection Committee at the Gulf Council, I see first-hand how our lack of updated fisheries data strikes at the heart of our ability to make sound management decisions that protect both our natural resources AND our fishermen,” said Harlon Pearce, member of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. “We need to get to the bottom of where our data collection resources are being spent and this full GAO investigation is a great step in the right direction.”
“Robust biological and socioeconomic data are critical to the management of our nation’s fisheries,” said Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “Unfortunately this information has been lacking for many important fisheries, particularly those in the southeast. ASA is grateful that Senator Rubio understands the need for improved science to drive management and is working towards that end.”
“Sound science matters,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “Senator Rubio’s leadership brings focus to the critical need for science-based management of America’s marine fishery resources.”
FACTS ABOUT THE FISHING INDUSTRY:
Call to Action
CCA Florida would like for our members to become involved and voice their opinions in a very important issue that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and Chairman Wright are spearheading. FWC will hold webinars concerning Sport Fish and Game Fish designations on December 10th and 12th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The FWC is asking for your help and would like for you to join in and give your comments. Some of the aspects of the Game Fish and Sport Fish designations have received mixed reviews among Florida anglers and we need your input. CCA will continue to work closely with FWC concerning this issue. Your comments are very important and CCA Florida encourages you to participate and voice your opinion.
Please click HERE to see the full press release regarding the webinars and how to attend them. If you have any questions please contact Trip Aukeman at 850-559-0060.
Please click HERE to review the FWC's Game Fish and Sport Fish PowerPoint presentation as well as the following press release that the FWC sent out following their December 5th meeting in which the Game Fish and Sport Fish Designations were discussed.
For immediate release: December 5, 2012
Contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
FWC Commission considering creating saltwater game fish and sport fish designations
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed the possibility of creating saltwater game fish and sport fish designations at its Dec. 5 Commission meeting in Apalachicola. After public comment from 18 people and the Commissioners’ discussion, the FWC decided to approve the proposed draft rule about the designation. The Commission will possibly make a final decision on this measure at its February meeting in Orlando.
While Florida has many recreationally important species, it does not have an official saltwater game fish or sport fish designation.
Reasons for considering these changes include helping highlight and protect some of Florida’s premier recreational fish and encouraging anglers to adopt voluntary conservation practices such as catch-and-release. If adopted, these changes could lead to healthier fish populations and help Florida market its unique fishing opportunities to residents and visitors.
“I think it’s an opportunity for this Commission to create a lasting legacy,” said Chairman Kenneth Wright. “I think it will send a signal to fishermen around the world that we are a world-class fishing destination.”
At the meeting, staff presented the Commission with potential game fish and sport fish definitions and described how fish within these designations could be managed.
Suggested parameters for game fish would include no commercial harvest, possession or sale.
The sport fish designation would offer a higher level of protection than game fish by making selected species catch-and-release only, including no recreational harvest as well as no commercial harvest, possession or sale.
Before moving forward with the proposal, the Commission decided to remove a parameter that would have limited gear to hook-and-line only for both designations. They also removed another parameter that was proposed for the game fish designation only that would have required captain and crew of for-hire vessels such as charter boats to have a bag limit of zero and not be allowed to take fish home for themselves.
Which fish species will be included under the game fish or sport fish designations will not be decided at the February Commission meeting. If game fish and sport fish designations are approved, staff will return to future meetings with suggestions for potential fish species candidates.
Recreational fishing in Florida has a high cultural and economic value, and protecting Florida’s premier recreational fish is a priority of the Commission.
. Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing – click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Rulemaking” and “Workshops.”