As fishermen battle a revision of an act that they say is driving away their business, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council says it is required to look at regulations for overfishing before anything else.
The Council has to address the legal mandates and the congressional intent of the law before it can consider the economic impacts. The economic impacts are always considered in any management measure that the Council takes, and amendments to the management plans includes that economic analysis.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act signed by President Bush in 2007 calls for regulators to stop overfishing and determine how many species are threatened by it.
Anglers are taking their fight to the federal Commerce Department and Congress, saying there are plenty of fish in the ocean, and overfishing is not an issue.
Kim Iverson with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council says the Council is holding a series of public meetings to hear from these fishermen.
The current issues are being addressed in a series of public hearings and scoping meetings. There’s a series of six public hearings and scoping meetings that are being held from Newburn, North Carolina, to Key Largo, Florida. And we just completed the first three of the meetings starting with Newburn, Charleston, South Carolina and Pooler, Georgia last night to discuss some of the issues as far as future regulations.
So far in these meetings, Iverson says the Council has heard how the regulations will hurt the economy– which she says they are aware of.
There are social and economic impacts any time you have the closure of a fishery or decrease the amount of fish that can be taken. But, remember the Council’s are acting on a congressional mandate to end overfishing.
Some fishermen say when the fishery counts the number of fish in certain species, causing limits on how many can be caught, the numbers are flawed. Iverson says that’s not exactly true.
And, the Councils have heard that, and that goes back to the data collection programs that are currently in place and the need to expand those data collection programs. I’m not saying the numbers are flawed, I’m saying there’s a need for additional and updated information.
If you would like to comment, or view a summary of a meeting, log on to www.safmc.net. Comments will be taken into consideration until February 14.