Suit Protects Anglers’ Freedom to Fish

The Coastal Conservation Association recently reached a favorable settlement with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to prevent no-fishing zones off the Florida coast. The suit was filed when NMFS proposed a closure of two gag grouper spawning areas to nearly all types of fishing. The settlement allows for the prevention of bottom fishing for stressed gag grouper stocks while permitting anglers to troll the areas for pelagic species. The settlement will also initiate a scientific research project to determine the impact of conventional trolling gear on bottom-dwelling grouper. The closure will last until 2003, when the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will reevaluate it.