Anglers, who cheered when the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida won a ruling in U.S. District Court, in Fort Myers, Florida, rejecting a ban on all grouper fishing, were stunned after federal regulators then gave preliminary approval to a one-month ban on grouper in Gulf waters. Despite protest, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council ratified a ban — on all grouper — that will take place from February 15 to March 15. The closure is not likely to begin until 2007. Previously, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had established a grouper fishing closure in the Gulf beginning this month before a judge overturned the ban, finding that the NMFS had acted with “an abuse of discretion.” For information, visit www.gulfcouncil.org.
Not Endangered — Yet
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., approved a settlement between conservation groups and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) concerning the listing of white marlin as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species will not be listed as either “threatened” or “endangered,” but NMFS must make a new determination as to whether white marlin should be protected under the ESA no later than December 2007. The Recreational Fishing Alliance, listed in the case as a “defendant-intervenor,” was pleased with the settlement since listing white marlin under the ESA would prohibit even catch-and-release fishing. For more information, visit www.joinrfa.org.
Stocks of river herring in North Carolina are in a free fall. The total catch of herring in 1985 was 11.5 million pounds. By 2002, that number had plummeted to 174,000 pounds, and recent landings have failed to reach the quotas set by the state Marine Fisheries Commission.
In Massachusetts, the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission approved a three-year moratorium on the harvest, possession and sale of river herring by any person due to “drastic declines of many herring spawning runs.” For more information, visit www.ncfisheries.net and www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.