The Biscayne National Park (BNP) contains some of the finest saltwater recreational fishing areas in Florida. The Parks location in highly urbanized southeast Florida makes it an extremely valuable component of Floridas 18 billion dollar saltwater recreational fishery. High recreational usage is one of the major values and benefits of the Park. Such recreational use can create management challenges and opportunities. In recent years, some groups and managers have been promoting â€œno entryâ€ and â€œno fishing zonesâ€ as a means to protect natural resources. Such measures have been pushed even before other more reasonable and proven measures have been tried. The real challenge to Park managers is to not shut down access but rather, instead, to work cooperatively with recreational fishers to develop plans which provide access and resource protection.
Illegally harvesting Florida's most important sport fish is serious business, as a woman and two men in Brevard County found out recently. They are each facing numerous misdemeanor charges for snook and red drum violations after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Kris Culver watched them catch and put the fish in their car at Sebastian Inlet during the night of Jan. 6.
Fernando Pantoja (DOB 05/02/80), of Okeechobee; Kenneth William Weber (DOB 10/09/64), of Vero Beach; and Gloria Lynn Melton (DOB 04/01/64) of Melbourne are each charged with possession of snook out of season, illegal method for harvesting snook (cast net), over-the-bag-limit of snook, possession of undersized red drum, and over-the-bag-limit of red drum. The number of illegal fish totaled 26 red drum, four snook and one black drum. Culver donated them to a local charitable organization.
Federal fisheries managers are set to close another popular recreational fishery in the South Atlantic in the latest example of how chronic lapses in science and data-collection are wreaking havoc on the recreational angling sector. Less than two months after narrowly avoiding a massive closure of all bottom fishing in the South Atlantic to recover red snapper, federal managers have announced that black sea bass are set to become off-limits from February to June due to circumstances that sounds frustratingly familiar to anglers.
â€œWhen Congress strengthened the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2006 in an effort to end overfishing, it did not intend NOAA Fisheries to achieve that goal simply by ending all fishing,â€ said Chester Brewer, chairman of Coastal Conservation Associations National Government Relations Committee. â€œWe need to end overfishing, but we have to have better data and more timely assessments before such harsh restrictions are imposed.â€