WASHINGTON — Recreational and commercial fishing interests are pressing Congress to relax catch limits in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, citing increases in fish populations over the past decade.
Some of the organizations that help set those limits and several fishermen who must abide by them told lawmakers Thursday the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act needs to be modified. That’s the federal law that governs fishing activity in areas beyond state-regulated waters.
“Many stocks of fish are more plentiful today than at any other time in my career,” Robert A. Johnson, a charter boat captain from St. Augustine, told a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee. “Unfortunately, this accomplishment has come at a huge cost to fishermen and coastal communities. Fishing fleets in my area have experienced about a 50-percent decline in recent years.”