CCA Grassroots Alert - Gulf Grouper Closure

The NMFS has thrown the recommendations and concerns of the FWC, a delegation of nine Florida congressional members, and hundreds of recreational fishing interests into the trash.

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CCA FLORIDA GRASSROOTS ALERT!

OPPOSE FEDERAL PLAN FOR THE UNWARRANTED TWO MONTH - NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER - RECREATIONAL CLOSURE ON ALL GULF GROUPER

VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION AT FEDERAL FISHERY COUNCIL HEARING ON AUGUST 10 IN FT. MYERS

CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS AND URGE THEM TO OPPOSE THE FEDERAL AGENCY GROUPER DECISION

CCA FLORIDA URGES ALL CCA CHAPTERS, FISHING CLUBS AND ANGLERS TO ORGANIZE, ATTEND THE HEARING AND OPPOSE THE UNWARRANTED CLOSING OF ALL RECREATIONAL GULF GROUPER FISHING FOR TWO MONTHS!

Gulf of Mexico Federal Fishery Management Council
August 10, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Diamond Head Beach Resort
2000 Estero Blvd.
Ft. Myers Beach, FL

IN ADDITION ALL CCA MEMBERS SHOULD CONTACT OUR U.S. SENATORS AND URGE THEM TO SEEK REVOCATION OF THE FEDERAL INTERIM RULE AND TO SUPPORT THE STATE OF FLORIDA'S COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson   
(202) 224-5274
senator@billnelson.senate.gov

SITUATION:
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has thrown the recommendations and concerns of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a delegation of nine Florida congressional members, and hundreds of recreational fishing interests into the trash. NMFS has adopted "interim" regulations which lower the recreational aggregate grouper bag limit from 5 to 3, lowers the maximum limit of 2 for red grouper to 1 (it was just lowered from 5 to 2 in 2004) and PROHIBITS THE RECREATIONAL HARVEST OF ALL GROUPER SPECIES FOR THE MONTHS OF NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER!

These draconian federal measures are being forced on recreational anglers when commercial longline boats have been allowed to take red grouper with a 10,000 lb. trip limit! The federal management scheme allocates more red grouper to 25 commercial longline boats than the amount allocated to all the recreational fishers in the entire Gulf of Mexico!

The Gulf red and gag grouper fisheries exist almost exclusively off of the State of Florida. As a result, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is a major part of the management process. The FWC became actively involved in the issue and urged the feds to hold public hearings in Florida. Hundreds of recreational anglers, charter boat captains and other recreational industry interests attended the Florida hearings to oppose the federal plan. The primary concern was imposing huge and unwarranted economic damage based on a single bizarre increase in the "estimated" catch in one year.

The FWC analyzed the federal fisheries information, received testimony from NMFS, and developed an alternative recommendation. In their June 24, 2005 letter, the FWC urged the feds to just reduce the current 2 fish red grouper recreational bag limit, which had just been reduced from 5, to a 1 fish limit with no season closures. The Commission indicated that their proposal "will accomplish an appropriate and measured response to the situation" and stated that they would immediately enact concurring regulations in all state waters if the feds adopted their recommendation.
 
The federal fisheries service simply rejected the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommendation.

CCA is supporting the FWC recommendation and is continuing to adamantly oppose the federal grouper action. We are examining all legal and other measures to get the federal decision reversed.

ACT NOW! ORGANIZE TO ATTEND THE HEARING AND CONTACT OUR U.S. SENATORS!

We need your help now to attend the August 10 hearing and to let our U.S. Senators know our strong opposition.

This Alert Prepared by: Ted Forsgren
    Executive Director
    CCA Florida
    (850) 224-3474