As promised, below are TBF’s final comments for the NMFS initiative that will potentially decimate billfish populations and harm the recreational fishing community.
As a reminder, the new NMFS proposal is twofold:
- Cut in half the time that the commercial longline fishery will be required to use “weak hooks” in the Gulf of Mexico from year-round to just January to June. This will result in increased bycatch of all the species listed above. It will also damage the recreational community by decreasing billfish numbers and hurting the responsible sportfishing tournaments. This could cripple both fish populations and the thousands of jobs that the recreational fishing industry creates.
- Loosen regulations in the four Gear Restricted Areas (GRA) of the Gulf of Mexico, NJ, and Cape Hatteras. Once again, this will increase billfish and other non-target species bycatch mortality to levels that are not sustainable. It will also unjustly penalize the recreational community. If any change is to occur, it must be done with data collected by an official government observer first so there is no bias.
To read more about the proposal, click here. Most importantly, to add your comments telling NMFS NO to loosening gear restrictions and harming our community, click here. Comments are due by midnight tonight, September 30th, 2019.