National Fisherman


There were no shortage of opinions Thursday among a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary committee on how they should go about planning for the future of closed areas and other fishing and diving regulations.
 
The first in the sanctuary's Ecosystem Protection Working Group meetings brought to bear the challenges facing the group. The opinions expressed by frustrated fishermen, dive guides and other leaders over how to best protect the Keys' most valued natural resource were often pointed.
 
Those present discussed the effectiveness of the sanctuary's current protected areas, the possible need for more protected areas, and whether to expand or shrink existing closed areas.
 
Officials are currently reviewing the sanctuary's management plan, which could lead to changes in regulations. Everything was on the table for discussion, said Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton, who stressed the group needs to get to work developing real recommendations that will best serve everyone's interests -- a hard task.
 
Among the most vocal participants early in the discussion was Ernie Pitton, an Upper Keys trap fisherman and president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, who called for better law enforcement of existing no-take and protected areas before additional changes are made.
 
"I see boats anchored in the coral on a daily basis," Pitton said. "Now, we're getting charged with making new zones when we have areas not getting protected now. They're not being enforced. I see it on a daily basis. It's frustrating as a fisherman. I'm not ready to give up (close) bigger zones because they're not being enforced now."
 
Read the full story at Keys News>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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