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South Atlantic Charter-Boat-Fleet Restrictions Considered

Potential regulations could create shortened seasons for more gamefish species

October 21, 2016
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fishing for wahoo in Atlantic Ocean
Wahoo are one species that could be impacted by a limited-entry plan under consideration for Atlantic Coast charter boats. Recreational-fishing interest groups fear that could lead to sector separation, which they say has contributed to 11-day red snapper seasons. Doug Olander Sport Fishing

OPINION

NOAA’s South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC) is considering regulations that could eventually have a significant effect on your opportunities to catch nearly all species of gamefish in South Atlantic waters — including snapper, grouper, dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel.

The SAFMC is moving forward with a system that puts more limitations on the number of charter captains you hire to get you out on the water.

But Keep America Fishing has seen this before — they’re headed straight down a path that leads to more closures, shortened seasons and reduced bag limits.

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Your help is needed to put the brakes on this plan.

Can you imagine having only 11 days to fish for wahoo or king mackerel in an entire year? Well, that’s exactly what happened in the Gulf of Mexico with the region’s most popular reef fish, red snapper.

In the Gulf, NOAA implemented a management strategy called “sector separation” that whittled down the allocation of red snapper to the point that recreational fishermen barely have a season to speak of. The actions currently being considered in the South Atlantic were the same first steps that led to such significant restrictions in the Gulf of Mexico.

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If you want to catch a red snapper in the Gulf, you only had 11 days on the calendar to do it this year. Local fishermen have been fighting over this policy for years and the situation is so bad that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering federal action to get it fixed.

Now consider that scenario in your back yard — multiplied for snapper, for grouper, for dolphin, for wahoo, and for king mackerel.

The SAFMC is at the start of what could turn into the worst possible scenario for the South Atlantic fishery. That’s why we need you to speak up now and stop this before it gets started.

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