Groups Oppose Resumption of Longlining in Atlantic Closed Zones

Keep America Fishing asks recreational anglers to voice opposition to proposal

swordfish catch
Keep America Fishing asks anglers to voice opposition to a new threat from one company trying to receive exclusive access to set longlines in Florida’s East Coast Longline Closed Zone. The zone was closed 16 years ago to protect juvenile swordfish and other billfish species.Mike Mazur / sportfishingmag.com

Keep America Fishing is asking people to speak out against a proposed exempted fishing permit application to authorize longline boats from one company exclusive permission to make more than 3,000 sets of 750 hooks within Florida’s East Coast Longline Closed Zone.

Keep America Fishing opposes the idea because it potentially disrupts a conservation success story that has led to a resurgence of swordfish and other pelagic stocks.

The zone along Florida’s east coast was closed 16 years ago to protect juvenile swordfish and other billfish species, sea turtles and overfished shark species. Keep America Fishing estimates 5,499 undersized swordfish, 759 more billfish and 6,135 sharks would be killed by longlines if the EPP is approved. Keep America Fishing added that buoy gear, which replaced longlines, are useful for sustaining marine resources while not sacrificing access for recreational anglers.

Keep America Fishing made this request just days after celebrating a win fighting a different EPP.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced at the South Atlantic Council meeting March 8 that the EPP to enact a catch-share pilot program for six popular saltwater species had been withdrawn.