Marine Ecosystem Protection
The Florida Wildlife Federation supports scientifically-based management of our fish populations and has consistently backed the recovery of depleted fish and wildlife. To achieve recovery of historically overfished populations of marine fish, we support the implementation of the conservation goals established by the Magnuson Act. The restoration of our reef fish requires letting more fish reach older ages, which produce many more offspring than do smaller, more juvenile fish. This also allows for better balanced sex ratios which increases reef fish productivity. Better protection of baitfish stocks, which are the base of the marine food chain, is also critical to building populations of native fish species and other marine wildlife. Marine fisheries management should focus on better gear which is selective and which does not adversely impact essential fish habitat.
Overfishing, or catching fish faster than they can reproduce, is a losing proposition. It weakens fish populations and ocean ecosystems, making both vulnerable to pollution, natural disturbances and climate change. It also hurts the economies of coastal communities that rely on abundant fish to sustain tourism, fishing, diving and other coastal industries. Indeed, an analysis commissioned by the Pew Environment Group showed that commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico lost $12.3 million in 2009 because of population declines in important species such as red snapper and gag grouper. Revenues could have been at least 16 percent higher if several fish populations were at healthier levels.
In addition to preventing overfishing, we advocate for policies that consider the ecosystem as a whole and the interaction between species, including measures that reduce by-catch, protect critical habitat, spawning areas and the marine food web. Slow growing reef fish may be particularly susceptible to overfishing. Care must be taken to retain necessary sex ratios in harvested populations.
Forage fish are the species at the base of the marine food web and are also adversely impacted by overfishing. These little fish play a big role in the ocean and just like apex predators, they need protection from overfishing. Whether it’s the top of the food chain, or the bottom, overfishing throws ecosystems out of balance.
Florida provides one-third of the nation’s seafood and is one of the country’s premiere destinations for recreational fishing. Recreational fishing is an essential part of the state’s economy and fishing regulations that sustain fish populations for the long term are critical to maintaining Florida’s economic prosperity.
Marine Ecosystem Protection Articles
Gulf Council Coastal Pelagics Webinar
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's CMP Advisory Panel will meet via webinar begininning 10:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013, and concluding no later than 11:30 a.m.
NOAA Announces Changes to Red Snapper Season in Gulf of Mexico Resulting from Court Ruling
NOAA Fisheries projects the Gulf-wide federal recreational red snapper season can be 28 days long. Federal waters of the Gulf will close to recreational red snapper harvest at 12:01 a.m., June 29, 2013.
NOAA Posts Amendment 39 for Regional Red Snapper Management
Red Snapper, Public Commment,
"Managing Nation's Fisheries" Winds Up in D.C.
The Managing Our Nation's Fisheries 3 conference wrapped up Thursday on a successful note, with conference participants developing 128 recommendations for improving fishery sustainability.
NOAA Seeks Comment on Vermillion Snapper, Yellowtails, Venting Tools
The proposed rule published on May 7, 2013, with the comment period ending June 6, 2013.
First Deepwater Horizon Seagrass Restoration Project Completed in North Florida
Construction has been completed on one of the first Deepwater Horizon restoration projects. The project restored submerged aquatic vegetation at 17 sites where response activities caused scarring of seagrass beds.
NOAA Seeks Comment on Vermillion Snapper, Yellowtails, Other Proposals
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would set a bag limit for vermilion snapper, set the annual catch limit for yellowtail snapper, and eliminate the venting tool requirement.
NOAA Fisheries Announces Changes to Rec Regs for Shallow Water Grouper in Gulf of Mexico (via The Fishing Wire)
On January 9, 2013, NOAA Fisheries approved Amendment 38 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico.
South Atlantic Fishery Council Slates Meetings (via The Fishing Wire)
If you fish in federal waters more than three miles off the South Atlantic coast, chances are there is a meeting scheduled in the coming weeks that is of interest to you.
US North Atlantic Swordfish Fishery Marine Stewardship Council Certification Public Comment Draft Report Available
MRAG Americas announces that the Public Comment Draft Report for the US North Atlantic fishery is now available for comment by interested parties.