David Nelson: Deep-water species are rebuilding in a healthy manner

October 28, 2013

To: South Atlantic Council

Soon this Council will be considering an expansion of MPA's to protect the Warsaw and Speckled Hind.  Neither of these two species have a stock assessment and the data is extremely limited mainly because the historical exploitation rate of these two species has been relatively low. 

In the entire history of the Warsaw Grouper and Speckled Hind fisheries, the amount of exploitation of these two species has been limited by a number of factors.  The need or desire to fish depths beyond 150 feet did not begin until the late 1970's as the red snapper fishery was still very strong inshore.  By the late 1970's and early 80's the bottom long line fishery developed and then was banned in 1992.  The fishery that is tied directly to these two species is the Snowy Grouper fishery and both were limited bycatch in this fishery.  At no point from the 1970's to the late 1990's, were these two species target species (only bycatch) for any fisherman at any point in the South Atlantic and then their possession was banned all together.  Both of these are the reasons the data is so limited.  

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Wayne Mershon: Comments to the South Atlantic Council on MPAs

CFSF President Wayne Mershon's testimony before the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in Charleston, SC on September 19, 2013:

I’m Wayne Mershon, a snapper-grouper dealer from Murrells Inlet.

I want to express my opposition to the consideration of any more deep-water MPAs through Snapper-Grouper Regulatory Amendment 17.

The current snapper-grouper regulations have had a severe financial impact on commercial fishermen and dealers.  We’re struggling to survive.

The fishery council needs to follow the advice of its Scientific and Statistical Committee and analyze the impact of current snapper-grouper regulations on speckled hind and warsaw grouper stocks before pursuing any additional MPAs.

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Op-Ed: No-fishing zones can’t be justified, hurt coastal economy

By Tom Swatzel

Recreational and commercial fishermen and coastal business should be very concerned about an effort by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) to create more no-fishing zones off North and South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida in a misguided reaction to radical environmental groups that are pushing for extraordinary and unjustifiable protections for two deep-water grouper species.

At its meeting next week in Charleston, the SAFMC will consider approving up to 18 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), encompassing nearly 1,350 square miles of ocean, that were recommended by the council’s MPA Workgroup as no-fishing zones for bottom fishing and even trolling in an effort to reduce the possible bycatch of speckled hind and warsaw grouper.

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