Press Releases

Press Releases

 

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Call to Action

CCA Calls for Denial of Longline Permits

Proposal would allow longliners into conservation zones under guise of “research”

 
    Conservationists are sounding the alarm over a proposal to issue Exempted Fishing Permits (EFP) that would crack open the door for the commercial longline industry to fish in conservation zones created in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.    “While there are undoubtedly legitimate uses for EFPs, in this case they are a thinly veiled excuse to introduce longlining, under the guise of a bycatch studies or other research, back into areas that were justifiably closed to such gear,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of the CCA National Government Relations Committee. “The ocean is a big place, and any research or gear modifications can be studied in areas where longliners are already allowed to set their gear. There is certainly no justification for allowing them into conservation zones. Proposals like this should be rejected outright.”     The conservation zones were originally created to eliminate bycatch and mortality of sailfish, marlins and undersized swordfish and yet the current EFP proposal would authorize the commercial take of tunas, swordfish billfishes and sharks for “scientific data collection and public display.”  The National Marine Fisheries Service states the EFPs could be used to allow commercial pelagic longline vessels into conservation zones off the east coast of Florida and the Charleston Bump to investigate bycatch “hotspots.” Adding insult to injury, the announcement from NMFS states that some EFP applicants are likely to request some form of compensation fishing to offset the expenses for vessel owners participating in the “research” efforts.     “Not only do they want to be allowed to fish commercially in conservation zones, the vessels participating in these ‘research’ efforts would also be exempt from regulations – including seasons – and be allowed to keep and sell whatever they catch,” said Brewer. “It’s outrageous. If the goal is to find the best ways to reduce bycatch, then the time and money spent on these types of proposals would be better applied to a program to switch longliners to less wasteful and destructive buoy gear or just buy them out entirely. That would be far more productive.”     CCA is submitting comments in opposition to the EFP proposal and is urging its members to make their voices heard. Comments must be received by December 20 and may be sent to:

Craig Cockrell
Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1)
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910Fax: (301) 713-1917Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.

 


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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. 

Public comment can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Staff members are also hosting webinars on Dec. 10 and 12 to gather public comment. These meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. To participate in the webinar, visit https://fwc.adobeconnect.com/mfm/. There is a cap of 100 participants that can be logged into the online webinar at once. This is on a first-come basis. To give everyone a chance to participate, please do not attend both webinar sessions. Each webinar will cover the same topic.

Voice-only access is also available for those without computer access. For questions about webinar access, please contact Carly Canion at 850-617-9627 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing – click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Rulemaking” and “Workshops.”
 

 

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November 28, 2012

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and
Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
Herbert Clark Hoover Building
14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Dr. Lubchenco:

We in the sportfishing community were appreciative of the effort you and Eric Schwaab made to improve communication and relationships through the Saltwater Recreational Summit held in Virginia at the beginning of your term as Administrator of NOAA. There were many important commitments made at that meeting, particularly ones made by you. While you have followed through on some of those commitments, there is one very notable exception that is quite concerning to us.

At that meeting in 2010, you noted that the allocation process between sport and commercial fisheries was "rusted shut" and many mixed sector fisheries are operating on outdated allocations based on history rather than optimizing socioeconomic values for the future. You stated that if we are really serious about maximizing jobs and economic value for the future, we have to address this issue regularly and with a standardized, analytical approach.

While we were pleased to have Eric follow up and commission former State Director George Lapointe to survey many of us as to what approaches would be needed, we were concerned that many on the Fishery Management Councils and some NOAA Fisheries Service staff opposed this effort and did not want the issue of allocation systematically reviewed. This pushback was expected, and is symptomatic of the agency culture that has always favored a stable commercial fishery and regarded the sportfish industry as an after-thought. It is this culture that locked in allocations in the first place.

We understand that the report prepared by Mr. Lapointe was submitted to NOAA Fisheries almost a year ago and, as far as we can tell, no meaningful action has been taken on it since submission. We are writing you to express our continuing apprehension that your first term as NOAA Administrator may expire without action on reallocation. There is still time to follow through and complete the development of a systematic framework to regularly review allocation, but it clearly requires your continuing commitment and leadership to unlock the inner workings of NOAA Fisheries that are rusted shut on this issue.

Please review this important situation and ensure that your commitment to us at the Summit has not been lost in process. Good progress on this issue was made initially, but we must guard against defenders of the status quo smothering this initiative with inertia and inaction.

You have asked us to hold you and Eric accountable to these commitments and while we are respectfully doing that, we are also offering our assistance to keep this process moving forward.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

 

Mike Nussman, President
American Sportfishing Association

 

Pat Murray, President
Coastal Conservation Association

 

Jeff Angers, President
Center for Coastal Conservation

 

Jeff Crane, President
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

 

Rob Kramer, President
International Game Fish Association

 

Thom Dammrich, President
National Marine Manufacturers Association

 

Jim Martin, President
Berkley Conservation Institute

 

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