11/13/09 — Pro-active Council seeks solutions

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Pro-active Council seeks solutions

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 13, 2009 1:46 PM

MOREHEAD CITY -- With every door that closes a window opens.

After the closure of several fisheries during the fall, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council is taking a pro-active approach to finding solutions for the states many aquatic issues.

A series of meetings that began this week will look at the management of several key species as well as the process by which fishery rules are set and enforced.

The SAFMC will look closely at new measures that affect 73 species that fall under the Snapper/Grouper management plan. The most significant proposed measure would include a closure of the red snapper fishery.

Amendment 17A of the council's management plan would establish long-term catch limits and accountability measures for red snapper as well as mandate the implementation of a monitoring program for the species.

In the second part of the proposed plan, Amendment 17B, the council would also establish accountability measures for nine other species including gag, black grouper and red grouper.

An additional change could be made, via an additional amendment, that would limit participation in the black sea bass fishery and seperate the snowy grouper quota by state rather than by region.

Among the groups that support the proposed plan is the Coastal Conservation Association, which recently applauded similar efforts taken in the striped bass fishery.

"Anglers at the north and south of the striped bass range are not seeing the numbers of fish they saw even just a few years ago," said Richen Brame, CCA's Atlantic States fisheries director. "There is cause for concern and we commend taking a conservative approach."

Anyone interested in commenting on the impending management changes is encouraged to send written comments to the SAFMC via their Web site at www.safmc.net, or call the council toll free at (866) 723-6210.