Tell the SAFMC how you want the snapper-grouper fishery managed!

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is developing a long-term “vision” for managing the snapper grouper fishery. Next week, beginning in South Carolina, the fishery council will begin a series of “port meetings” to seek input from commercial and recreational snapper-grouper fishermen, dealers, chefs and others who have a stake in the fishery as to how the fishery should be managed long-term.

Click here for detailed information about the SAFMC Visioning Project.

The first port meetings will be in Murrells Inlet next Tuesday, February 11th at 2 pm and 6 pm at Capt. Dave’s Dockside Restaurant and on Wednesday, February 12th at 10:30 am at The Ordinary Restaurant in Charleston.

More meetings will be held in South Carolina in late February. Then meeting will be held in North Carolina and Florida in March and in Georgia in April. Click here for the full meeting schedule.

These are important meetings and you’re urged to attend. The outcome will affect how your snapper-grouper fishery is managed for years to come.

If you’re unable to attend, comments can be emailed to safmcvision@safmc.net

As our mission states, we believe the snapper-grouper fishery should be managed to optimize and sustain fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen to aid the coastal economy of the region and ensure stable seafood availability to consumers.

The CFSF believes the following should apply to the management vision for the fishery:

*More frequent stock assessments for species in rebuilding plans. Until a stock’s status is known, particularly for species in a rebuilding plan, Annual Catch Limits cannot be increased, impacting fishermen and the coastal economy.

*Stock assessments for major unassessed species. Currently of the 528 stocks under federal management, only 121 have updated stock assessment data. The establishment of Annual Catch Limits on unassessed stocks using historical landings, not science, is not fair to fishermen and needs to end.

*More accurate and timely fishery management data. Streamlined and timely electronic reporting is needed for the commercial and for-hire sectors. The accuracy and timeliness of the recreational landings estimates from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) need to be vastly improved. For 2013, MRIP estimates for the South Atlantic are months behind schedule.

*Careful coordination of fishing seasons for snapper-grouper species to maximize fishing opportunities and reduce bycatch.

*Use of carefully crafted commercial trip limits to maximize fishing seasons.

*More consideration of the socioeconomic impacts of fishery management decisions. All efforts should be given to maintaining or increasing fishing related jobs.

We also believe that the following should not be considered in the management of the fishery:

*Catch Shares. Studies have shown that there is no biological benefit to catch share programs and that they hurt fishing communities by destroying jobs.

*Additional Marine Protected Areas. There is no scientific justification for additional live bottom deep-water MPAs in the South Atlantic, especially since there are eight existing MPAs for which there have been no evaluations conducted as to their effectiveness.

*Vessel Monitoring Systems. VMS is financially burdensome and overly intrusive to fishermen, and according to researchers, would not produce useful data, particularly in the snapper-grouper fishery.

Again, we urge you to become involved with the visioning process to ensure that our shared vision of the snapper-grouper fishery becomes reality.

Thank you for your efforts!

Tom Swatzel
Executive Director

P.S. The CFSF works to maximize Annual Catch Limits and flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks, fight unnecessary fishery regulations, and achieve more accurate and timely fishery management data. Please help us financially today by clicking here and joining.

Contributions or gifts to the Council for Sustainable Fishing are not tax deductible as charitable contributions. However, they may be tax deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.

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