Charles A. Witek, III is an attorney, salt water angler and blogger.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ successful rebuilding of the summer flounder stock was one of the mid-Atlantic region’s greatest conservation success stories.
By 1989, summer flounder had become severely overfished. The total spawning stock was estimated at a mere 5,521 metric tons, and biologists were able to find very few fish that were more than two years old. After that, a very slow rebuilding process began, which was badly hindered by managers who subordinated the needs of the recovering stock to the short-term economic concerns of the fishing industry.
Greetings from New Orleans, where I’m excited to bring you some great news about the recreational fishery! After years of careful analysis and deliberation, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council embraced change and voted unanimously to bring the charter for-hire fishery—which is made up of vessels operated by professional fishermen who take paying customers out fishing—into the Digital Age.
Yesterday’s decision directs the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop an electronic logbook reporting system for the charter boat fleet in the Gulf. Electronic logbooks are devices—some no bigger than a smartphone—that charter captains use to record their day’s catch and send it directly to managers.
As a result, accurate tracking and monitoring of fish caught by charter boats will be captured in a fast and reliable way—improving the management of our nation’s fisheries.
For nearly three decades, Ocean Conservancy has been fighting to protect red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. The stock was formally declared as overfished in the late 1980s. Despite this long and rocky road, 2015 has been a landmark year for red snapper—the stock continues to rebuild as a result of shared sacrifices and innovative management strategies.
In April 2015, NOAA approved a management measure that will improve conservation and recreational fishing opportunities in the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. This management measure divides the recreational red snapper quota between charter-for-hire and private recreational fishermen (known as ‘sector separation’ because it splits the recreational sector into two sub-sectors).
Sector separation allows fishery managers to develop individually tailored strategies for the needs of the unique charter-for-hire and private recreational components, which in turn will prevent continued catch-limit overages and foster continued rebuilding of this iconic Gulf species.
When nylon was created in 1938, few people realized the impact this new material would have on fishing. By the late 1950s, manufacturers were producing a single strand of monofilament plastic that would quickly become the most popular fishing line.
Unfortunately, the very properties that make monofilament line so beneficial for fishermen – durability, strength, clarity – can make it an environmental hazard. Continue reading »
UPDATE (July 17, 2013): Success! The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has voted to raise this year’s catch limit for red snapper from 8.46 to 11 million pounds due to the successful rebuilding of this iconic species. This action marks a historic moment in the management of the red snapper fishery, as catch levels are the highest they’ve been in 25 years.
It’s summer in the Gulf of Mexico, and another recreational red snapper fishing season has come and gone too quickly. Usually at this time of year, anglers and fishery managers are taking stock of what was caught in the short snapper opening and wondering what the limit will be next year. The answer will come sooner than usual.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is holding an emergency meeting this week to decide how many more red snapper can be caught this year. A science panel recently announced that an increase is possible, and now managers need to settle the questions of how much and by when?
The good news is that the red snapper population is on the rise and soon the catch limit will be too. The law governing our nation’s fisheries, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, has rebuilt a record number of fish populations around the country, and red snapper is one of the most visible success stories.
Fishing from a Stand Up Paddleboard. Photo by TJ Marshall
As a die-hard surfer I’ve picked up just about every kind of board to surf with and one of my favorites is a Stand Up Paddle board (SUP). Recently, my long time “surf brah” Kevin swung over from Orlando wanting to enjoy some small wave fun here in Cocoa Beach but the tide came up and, well, the surf didn’t look to good.
No problem! I grabbed the fishing poles, threw the boards on the truck and we headed over to the Banana River. Kev had been going on flat water crusies every since I gave him a “bro rate” on my old SUP when I stepped up to a new one. Yet he’d never wet a line from one — it was time to change that.
We headed over to my local park that had two boat ramps and a dedicated kayak/SUP ramp, specifically made with a fabric liner so not to damage the numerous yaks and SUPs dropping in the water these days like a concrete boat ramp will do. There were 6 other people launching so we waited our turn to head out into the 1000 Island chain – a great spot for catching redfish, snook, speckled trout and when you’re lucky a fun, fighting tarpon.