Fishermen angling for black sea bass may have more time on the water this season, following a massive increase in the amount of fish that can be caught without endangering the overall population of the species.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council last month more than doubled the annual catch limit for the commercial and recreational black sea bass fisheries, increasing the total allowable weight to 1.8 million pounds, up from 847,000. That decision followed a review of scientific data showing that population numbers had increased while overfishing plummeted, resulting in a healthy stock.
The increase should ensure a full-length fishing season, putting an end to the early closures that have plagued fishermen for years. Those seasons, truncated after previous catch limits were exceeded, were cautionary measures meant to prevent overfishing of fledging sea bass populations. Throughout that process, fishermen reported seeing large numbers of black sea bass in waters off the coast, observations confirmed by the most recent data update.
“There are bigger fish and more fish,” said Kim Iverson, a spokeswoman for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. “The fishermen have paid the price by having shortened seasons and restrictions, and now the stock is recovering and those fishermen will also reap that reward.”
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National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14
In this episode:
NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.