Fisheries Watch

Tough on Weakfish
Due to the record lows in the population of weakfish along the Atlantic coast, the Weakfish Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will hold hearings on Technical Committee proposals to reduce the catch by 50 percent. In order to achieve that on the recreational side, the daily limit could be reduced significantly from the present limits of eight fish at a 13-inch minimum in New Jersey and six fish at 16 inches in New York. For more information, visit www.asmfc.org.

Grouper in the Red?
The estimated recreational catch of red grouper jumped from 1.536 million pounds in 2003 to 3.53 million pounds in 2004, an unprecedented increase that was unexpected considering that four major hurricanes hit Florida last year, greatly reducing the amount of time anglers spent on the water. Early recreational-catch numbers for the first four months of 2005 are back in line with 2003 levels. But based on the 2004 survey numbers for red grouper, the National Marine Fisheries Service implemented interim measures, including a total recreational closure on all grouper species during November and December. However, in August, the Coastal Conservation Association filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Fort Myers. The suit challenges the decision to close the entire grouper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico and asks the court to expedite its decision regarding the legality of the closure before it takes effect. For more information, visit www.joincca.org.

Striper Report Cards
North Carolina anglers fishing from Ocracoke Inlet to the Virginia state line are required to report their catches of striped bass. Although the reporting requirement only lasts from September 1 to October 31, the state plans to extend the research period from May through October in the years to come. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries took this action to improve estimates of the striped bass being caught by salt water anglers during warm-weather months. For more information, visit www.ncdmf.net/content/strbass/stribassreport1.htm.