Once again, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council has been asked to approve an exempted fishing permit to allow longline fishing in an area off Florida closed for years to longlining as a swordfish-nursery conservation zone. The resumption of longlining would mean the deaths of thousands of juvenile, undersized swordfish as well as adult marlin and sailfish. The decimation of swordfish by longliners was the reason for creation of the of East Florida Coast Pelagic Longline Closed Area in 2001; the subsequent turnaround in swordfish populations was hailed a major success for the species. Last year, federal fishery managers were asked to allow longliners to resume fishing within this closed area under the guise of research. After a public outcry (including an *SF editorial),* those exempted fishery permits were denied. Now, Florida Fisheries Solutions and commercial fishing boats are petitioning the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council to again allow exempted fishery permit holders to fish the closed conservation zone. According to Keep Florida Fishing, the longliners not only could sell fish caught with the exempted permit, but sell to other boats the right set longlines there. “The permit proposes to make 22 times as many longline sets than deemed necessary to be scientifically sufficient for as similar permit in 2008,” according to KFF, which then asks: “Does this sound like a ‘research project’?”
Keep Florida Fishing recommends concerned anglers and marine conservationists help save our swordfish by doing the following:
1 – Click here to go to the Council’s online comment form.
2 – Fill out the name, email address, address, and participation sections.
3 – In the “Agenda Item” section, check the box for “Other.”
4 – Use the sample letter below by pasting it into the “comments” section of the council’s online form. Feel free to add your own thoughts
As an angler who is committed to conservation, I urge you to reject the application for a permit that would allow longline fishing in the East Florida Coast Pelagic Longline Closed Area.
A known nursery area, longline-fishing has been excluded from the closed zone since 2001. Since then, the closure has been widely considered to be a conservation triumph. If approved, thousands of marlin, sailfish and swordfish are projected to be discarded dead over the term of the permit in the name of questionable science.
We should not risk reversing the amazing fishery recovery by allowing this destructive gear to return.
Please do not support this application and direct NOAA Fisheries to keep this important area closed to longliners.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
Doug Olander is the editor-in-chief of Sport Fishing magazine.
Sport Fishing welcomes opportunities to share a variety of perspectives from prominent or influential participants in issues related to recreational fishing and fisheries.