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Florida Guides Association - Call To Action.

Florida Guides Association - Call To Action.

What’s Happening

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding public workshops on a proposal for recreational reef fish data collection that would better define the population of offshore reef fish anglers for survey purposes using a registry system. These improvements would enhance current recreational harvest data collection efforts for Florida's reef fish species in the Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, vermilion snapper and gray triggerfish.

■Thursday, March 6: Destin (6:00 - 8:00 p.m. CST), Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.
■Tuesday, March 11: Phone Conference (6:00 - 8:00 p.m. EDT), please RSVP to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting.
■Wednesday, March 12: Pensacola (6:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT), Escambia County Extension Office Auditorium, 3740 Stefani Rd.

Why This Is Important

Florida’s offshore fisheries are (mis)managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, (NMFS) which statistically underestimates fish populations and at the same time grossly over estimates recreational effort, resulting in absurd estimates of recreational take during hurricanes, for example.

They base these estimates which are then used to make policies on limits and seasons on a combination of telephone surveys which are highly unrepresentative of actual offshore effort and the number of saltwater licenses issued in the state, without accounting for those who primarily fish inshore.

Florida has an opportunity to follow Louisiana’s lead in providing accurate local data on both fish populations and fishing effort to correct these flaws and generate more reasonable limits on take and expansion of seasons by creating it’s own registry system.

Consequences

No action - Status quo and increasingly shorter seasons and limits.

Establishing a registry – High probability of longer seasons and limits. Louisiana’s efforts resulted in an extended red snapper season.

Talking Points, If You Go

1. Call it a registry and NOT a permit.

2. Fisheries management requires assessing the populations of fish AND the number of fishermen pursuing them. This is the second half of the equation.

3. Do not put the funding of this on the backs of recreational fishermen. If the FWC is going to play at fisheries management, it is their responsibility to know both of the above numbers. If they don’t, they should not be involved in it.

4. This needs to be championed by the entire Commission and argued by Luiz Barbieri at the Gulf Council
to gain our independence from the feds rulemaking.

5. They need a lot more outreach to sell this to the public who is fearful of it. This is not a job for a statistician, like Barbieri. (who agrees)

This is an opportunity we have been waiting for a long time. Take advantage of it!

Captain Gary S. Colecchio
Sr. Vice President

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