National Fisherman

Mixing outrage and pleas of financial hardship, commercial fishermen and charter captains packed a Marathon meeting Monday to forcefully argue against proposals for new no-take zones throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

"You're strangling us, slowly but surely strangling us," said Bill Harbaugh, an Upper Keys charter captain.

"This is a declaration of war against fishermen ... a vast overreach," said Upper Keys commercial fisherman Carlos Jimenez.

Taking the brunt of the collective anger from more than 100 opponents were volunteer members of the Ecosystem Protection working group, preparing a set of revised zoning maps to submit to the full Sanctuary Advisory Council.

After hours of public comment, the working group abandoned plans to vote Monday on recommendations for a network of new ecological reserves and preservation areas ranging from the Dry Tortugas to Carysfort Reef off North Key Largo.

"Everybody just now is getting wind of this," said Ernie Piton, president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association and a member of the working group. "There's no way we're getting through this today. It's not possible."

"The whole thing's a meltdown," said Joe Weatherby, a diving representative on the working group.

Read the full story at Keys Net>>

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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