TALK ON THE DOCK
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.
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by a commercial fishing company pursuing an exempted fishing permit (EFP) to longline off Florida’s east coast has been withdrawn.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.