Florida East Coast Closed Zone Will Remain Closed!

Major victory for fish and the recreational community

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is not issuing an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) that would open the east coast Florida closed zone to pelagic longline vessels for the stated purpose of conducting “research.” Thanks in large part to TBF’s efforts and to our constituency submitting comments to NOAA, this victory was achieved. This is a major accomplishment that will continue yielding conservation benefits to the fish and other marine resources, which will further support recreational fishing and boating opportunities that support a wide array of associated jobs.

A map of the pelagic longline closed zone off Florida’s east coast (credit: NOAA)

The decision comes after almost two years of effort by Day Boat Seafood, Inc. and Dr. David Kerstetter through two proposals for an EFP. The first research proposal included Nova Southeastern University where Kerstetter is employed, but the University was dropped in the second research proposal. The zone off Florida was closed for 18 years ago to reduce longline bycatch mortality of billfish, juvenile swordfish and other species like marine mammals and turtles.

A separate NMFS action remains pending, which proposes to reinvigorate the U.S. pelagic longline fishery.  The proposed action considers modifying and possibly removing a 1-month spring pelagic longline Gear Restricted Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, a 5-month Area off Hatteras, NC and a 1-month closure off the shores of New Jersey. A decision is expected soon. Stay up to date by signing up to our “In the Spread” monthly newsletter.