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Fishery Management Updates

Florida snook closure, catch limit bill and new Action Plans from NOAA...

December 8, 2011

Florida Snook Closure

Snook season on the Atlantic coast of Florida including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River closes December 15. The season will reopen Feb. 1, 2012.

Snook remains closed in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters through Aug. 31, 2012, in response to the prolonged cold weather during the 2009-10 winter that affected their populations.

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Anglers may still catch and release snook during the closed season, and are encouraged to handle and release them carefully to ensure their health and survival.

Snook regulations apply to both state and federal waters off Florida, and no person shall possess any snook caught during snook closed seasons.

For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing.

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Bill Eliminates Unnecessary Catch Limits

A Senate version of the Fishery Science Improvement Act has been introduced Monday by Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

The bill states that if NOAA Fisheries has not done a stock assessment on a particular stock in the past six years and there is no indication that overfishing is occurring, no annual catch limit on that stock is required.

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As amended in 2006, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires Regional Fishery Management Councils to establish catch limits for every fishery by Dec. 31. Catch limit decisions would be based on up-to-date and accurate stock assessments, and there would be improved catch data to better anticipate potential problems in a given fishery.

This bill would eliminate arbitrary limits on species for which stock assessments had not been completed prior to the Dec. 31 deadline included in the amendment.

The federal government has about 528 fish stocks or complexes of stocks under management, and today only 121 of those stocks are considered “adequately assessed.”

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Similar to legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and 34 bipartisan co-authors, the Nelson/Rubio bill has the backing of a broad coalition of fishing, boating and industry groups.

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Fishing Action Plans Announced**

NOAA has announced regional saltwater recreational fishing action plans designed to help improve fishing and address priorities in the nation’s six coastal regions and for the angling community that fishes for tunas and other highly migratory species.

The plans are based on goals and objectives identified by participants at the 2010 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit.

The new action agendas include ongoing projects or projects expected to be completed in the next 12 to 24 months. The projects improve stewardship and build partnerships within the saltwater angling community. For details on particular regional programs on the agenda, go to nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2011/12/recfish.html.

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