South At­lantic an­glers breathe a sigh of re­lief as a re­cent at­tempt by long­lin­ers to tar­get sword­fish and five other pop­u­lar sport fish off Florida’s coast fiz­zles out.

Saltwater Sportsman - - Table Of Contents / Departments -

Meet­ing with re­sis­tance from the an­gling com­mu­nity, an ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mit­ted to the Na­tional Marine Fish­eries Ser­vice by a com­mer­cial fish­ing com­pany pur­su­ing an ex­empted fish­ing per­mit (EFP) to long­line off Florida’s east coast has been with­drawn.

The EFP ap­pli­ca­tion sought au­tho­riza­tion for a catch-share pi­lot pro­gram that would give ex­clu­sive per­mis­sion to the com­pany’s long­line boats to make over 3,000 sets of 750 hooks each within the Long­line Closed Zone off Florida’s east coast. Na­tional Marine Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates this EFP would have killed 5,499 un­der­size sword­fish, 759 bill­fish and 6,135 sharks.

Closed 16 years ago to pro­tect ju­ve­nile sword­fish, other bill­fish, and sharks and sea tur­tles, the men­tioned Long­line Closed Zone is widely con­sid­ered a con­ser­va­tion suc­cess story. Not only have sword­fish re­bounded, but fish­ing for other pop­u­lar species like sail­fish, tuna, mar­lin and oth­ers has also been ex­cel­lent off Florida and other South At­lantic shores.

NMMA sup­ports and ap­plauds the ef­forts of Keep Florida Fish­ing and Keep Amer­ica Fish­ing to block the EFP, but it be­lieves there is still work to be done and is call­ing on its mem­bers and the an­gling com­mu­nity na­tion­wide to help Keep Amer­ica Fish­ing in its ad­vo­cacy ef­forts mov­ing for­ward.

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