National Fisherman

PANAMA CITY BEACH — With red snapper season becoming shorter each year, many local charter boat captains say they are struggling to keep their heads above water.

However, new legislation that would shift control of a portion of federal waters back to the state is offering area anglers a glimmer of hope for reduced regulations on seasons and bag limits.

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, introduced the Gulf Fisheries Fairness Act last week. The bill would extend the state water boundaries of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, allowing the states to manage reef fish species like snapper, grouper, amberjack and triggerfish.

With federal management agencies planning for the shortest red snapper season ever this year, Southerland said the legislation would "cast a life preserver to fishermen and coastal economies struggling to stay afloat amid crippling federal regulations."

In Florida, the legislation would reset state water boundaries for reef fish management from nine miles to a depth of 20 fathoms (120 feet), which could reach 60 miles offshore in some areas.

Chip Blackburn, who captains the charter boat "Miss Mary" in Mexico Beach, said if the act were to pass it probably would save his business and others in the area.

"What the legislation will do is give the states the authority to manage the reef fish complex out to 20 fathoms, which is a lot further than nine miles," Blackburn said. "The state would set the seasons, count the fish, basically do with (the reef fish) what they already do with the inshore species."

Read the full story at the News Herald>>

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.

First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.

Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.

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Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.

Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.

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