My Comments Yesterday in Key Largo to SAFMC
My name is Rob Harris and I live and fish in the Florida Keys. I serve as a member of the SAFMC Snapper Grouper AP representative as Florida’s Recreational Fishing Representative.
I also am the Director of the Key West Fishing Tournament which averages over 1,000 recreational anglers each year.
I also have a large population of Commercial Fishermen living in and around my area.
Action 2. Prohibit powerheads in the EEZ off NC and throughout the South
I know that this item has been brought forth through a request from the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission and was discussed at length at our last AP meeting.
As I recall the discussions of this issue, there wasn’t great support from the AP for a complete ban of the gear from any of the represented sectors.
We discussed the typically selective nature of the gear, the fact that the commercial seafood buyers had a preference for fish taken using the gear and the potential for exploitation of only the largest of a species being targeted.
It was also mentioned that the hook-and-line fishermen were noting a lack of the larger specimens in the target species being taken by hook-and-line. This point was made by the difference in the sizes of the fish being landed at the docks and was noted by some of the AP members as they had seen the catches or the pictures of the catches.
I also recall discussion of the difficulty of landing these larger fish on hook-and-line throughout the SAFMC region, regardless of the presence of spear fishermen. It only makes sense that these fish would be more difficult to land with rod/reel.
It also makes sense that the larger specimens being targeted by spear/powerhead also make for the best brood stock that would undoubtedly have an impact on the overall stocks.
Having said that, given the amount of information that we’ve been presented with (or lack thereof), I would find it difficult to support a complete closure.
I would be more inclined to follow the line used by the divers about the “selective nature” within their fishing style:
- Establish a Maximum Size Limit for both Commercial and Recreational Sector
- For the Commercial Sector, establish an Endorsement Program
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