Time is running out to oppose closed fishing areas

Time is running out to oppose the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s proposal to close more offshore fishing areas. The deadline for comments is just two weeks away. I urge you to take action today!

Last week, fishermen, the local chamber of commerce, and others at the public hearing in Murrells Inlet were in vocal opposition to Amendment 36, which would close off about 70 sq. miles more of bottom to fishing from North Carolina to Key West.

There are already nearly 700 sq. miles of existing deep-water Marine Protected Areas in which bottom fishing is prohibited and nearly 24,000 sq. miles of existing deep-water coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern in which bottom fishing is substantially restricted by prohibitions on anchoring and bottom longlines. There is no plan in place to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of these existing closed areas, much less any new areas.

Plus, these proposed closed areas are not part of any fishery rebuilding plan and not required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act for fishery sustainability. This is an entirely optional action on the part of the SAFMC.

Coverage of the Murrells Inlet hearing from the Myrtle Beach Sun News, entitled “Fishermen reeling over proposal to close famed Georgetown Hole to snapper-grouper fishing”:

“The Council for Sustainable Fishing and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce were among the organizations that voiced concerns over additional closed (fishing) areas.

‘We are very wary of the proposal to restrict bottom-fishing in the Special Management Zones along the East Coast,’ chamber president Brad Dean said in the letter. ‘Currently there are large, expansive areas of protected marine areas, including deep-water coral Habitat of Particular Concern, in which fishing is prohibited and/or greatly restricted. Likewise we are not aware of any systematic approach to monitoring the effectiveness of these closed areas, must less expansion of restricted areas.’

…‘Should the fishery council decide to move forward anyway with these SMZs, we ask that they adopt the alternatives with the smallest possible footprint to limit impacts on fishermen and communities,’ said Tom Swatzel, a former SAFMC council member and executive director of the Council for Sustainable Fishing.”

Click here for the article.

A webinar hearing will be held this Tuesday, August 18th at 6 pm. Register by clicking here.

Public hearings will be held in Georgia and Florida next week:

(All 4 to 7 pm)

Monday, August 24:
Georgia DNR Office, 1 Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520

Tuesday, August 25:
Hilton Garden Inn, 189 Midway Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Written comments can be emailed to mike.collins@safmc.net (reference Amendment 36 in the subject line), faxed to (843) 769-4520 or mailed to Robert Mahood, Executive Director, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405. The deadline for comments is 5 pm on August 31st.

I urge you to be heard before it’s too late.

Wayne Mershon
President
Council for Sustainable Fishing

P.S. The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a non-profit advocacy group that relies on membership dues to operate. Please join today by clicking here to help us continue our fight for fishermen and fishing communities. Thank You!

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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