Selected tag(s): danger

Fishermen Face Uncertainty as Valuable Fishing Seasons Cut Short

Catch shares could extend seasons, bring back fish  

These vermilion snapper were landed in Murrels Inlet, SC in late August 2010.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is closing two valuable commercial fishing seasons in the Southeast on Oct. 6 and 7: vermilion snapper and black sea bass, respectively. 

With so many restrictions already placed on commercial fishing in recent years, fishermen are forced to compete with other fishermen to catch vermillion snapper and black sea bass as fast as possible before the catch limits are met and seasons closed. For several years, the limits have been met faster and seasons closed earlier. Once the seasons close, there will be few other valuable fish to catch for the rest of the year. 

These closures are not an accident. They’ve been happening consistently throughout the region for several years, due to outdated fishing rules and lower limits of fish to catch.

  • Since 2008, the vermilion snapper commercial fishing season has decreased in length by nearly 50%, allowing just 6 months of fishing this year.
  • Since 2006, the black sea bass commercial fishing season has decreased in length by more than 60%, allowing just under five months of fishing this year.
  • Since 2005, the golden tilefish commercial fishing season has decreased in length by more than 70%, allowing just over 3 months of fishing this year.
  • In 2009, there were no red snapper season restrictions, but this year fishing for red snapper has been banned the entire year.

This trend indicates that continued fishing under outdated rules could result in even more restrictions, causing further economic damage to the fishing industry and the communities it supports. Some fishermen have already gone out of business; those who are still in business often must go out in dangerous weather to fish before seasons close. Local fish can be hard to come by in the region.

There’s a better way to revitalize fish populations and get fishermen back on the water: catch shares.

Catch shares are the best solution for Southeast fisheries. Catch shares have proven results in fisheries around the world, they improve science through enhanced fishery monitoring and they eliminate the need for fishery closures.

Now is the time to move forward with better management: catch shares.

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