The popular gag grouper has apparently suffered from overfishing for several years. (Photo: NOAA)
Fishers protest grouper fishing regulations
Monday, February 28, 2011, 04:50 (GMT + 9)
Hundreds of commercial and recreational fishers protested stricter fishing regulations on gag grouper at the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) regional headquarters in St Petersburg, Florida, on Friday. The demonstration followed the previous week’s first movement on Capitol Hill for a political countermeasure in response to the recent outpouring of stricter fishing regulations.
The popular gag grouper has suffered from overfishing for several years, and federal officials insisted that the restrictions were necessary to protect the species from disappearing.
On Friday, fishers spoke up against regulations curtailing gag grouper limits beyond the 9-mi marker in the Gulf of Mexico -- where 80 per cent of all sport fishers go to fish the species. Transferring grouper within the 9-mi distance from shore is permitted, reports Tampa Bay Online.
Protesters sought congressional action to protect fishers from the restrictions, reports AP.
The federal ban went into force in January and will last for at least six months. Many argue that this will cost economies of the US southeast billions in lost profit.
Commercial fishers landed 1.49 million lb annually of gag grouper until now; the restrictions have lowered the amount to 100,000 lb.
Fishers have questioned the process through which the federal government has implemented the ban and argued that the gag grouper stock is higher than the government claims.
Friday’s demonstration was organised by the Fishing Rights Alliance, who cites the main reasons as the closures of grouper fishing in the Gulf and red snapper in the South Atlantic, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Executive Director Dennis O'Hern said in press releases that the alliance opposes the closures due to the "government's reliance on flawed data and outdated science.”
- Red snapper, grouper bans to go into effect in December
- Council votes to ban snapper and grouper fishing
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member NOAA -National Marine Fisheries Service