The Florida Wildlife Federation supports scientifically-based management of our saltwater populations and has consistently backed the recovery of depleted fish and marine wildlife. To achieve recovery of historically overfished populations of marine fish, we support the implementation of the conservation goals established by the Magnuson Act and the proper management of forage fish populations which serve as the basis of the entire marine food web. Forage fish, just like apex predators, need protection from overfishing. Whether it’s the top of the food chain, or the bottom, overfishing throws ecosystems out of balance.
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 will increase reef fish productivity. Marine fisheries management should focus on selective fishing gear which does not adversely impact essential fish habitat. By growing fish populations, we will not have to rely on onerous regulations.
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 and protect critical habitat, spawning areas and the food web.
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.
Forage Fish Pledge
Forage fish are foundation of Florida’s legacy as Fishing Capital of the World. Visit the Florida Forage Fish Coalition website to learn more about why forage fish are important and why they need protection. Take the Forage Fish Pledge to show your support for better forage fish protection in Florida. http://floridaforagefish.igfa.org
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