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’?”