Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Will New Laws Be Enough?

A temporary ban on longline fishing for shallow water grouper has been in place since May of 2009. This ban came after an extended research was done in 2006 and 2007, showing that the longline fishing fleets were killing more than eight times the amount of sea turtles than regulators thought.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering new laws that would combine seasonal restrictions on longline grouper fishing and a gradual reduction in the number of fleets that will be allowed to operate. The council will vote tomorrow, whether to recommend the new rules to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which could make a final decision. These rules would prohibit longline fishing in waters 210 feet or shallower between June and August, a compromise made in April between environmental groups and the fishing industry. But, after a federal observer reported observing five loggerhead turtle deaths in the month of April this year, on just one longline boat; it seems that the restricted time period may not be long enough.

All of these regulations are making it difficult for longline fishermen. Some of them have already made a switch from longlines to vertical fishing with rod and reel. Some fleets takes have dropped 75% and is making it almost impossible for them to survive. Knowing that these restrictions may put more people out of work during these tough economic times, causes strong mixed emotions. Lets just hope that there can be a balance somehow and still keep the sea turtles safe.

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