Last week’s South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting showed the council is listening to our comments as well as the comments of those who want to advance other agendas. Catch shares were mentioned a couple of times during the Visioning Project workshop. It is extremely important for us to offer alternative solutions to solve the regulatory discard problem that is wasting over a million pounds of our quotas every year. VMS was brought up again during the workshop. This time the for-hire fleet seemed to be their target. The council also decided to put off the MPA scoping meetings until August due in large part to high levels of anticipated opposition based on the comments they have already received. NOAA is accepting comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Study for RA17. You can learn more and comment at this link.
We need to point out that there is no proof existing MPAs have had any positive impact. The Scientific and Statistical Committee has said existing regulations have likely ended overfishing of Warsaw Grouper and Speckled Hind and there is no evidence new MPAs would help these stocks. I will post my comment on here as soon as I submit it.
Lunch with John Carmichael and Chairman Hartig resulted in some good and bad news. The good news is that we could see a reduction in the current 40% Gag Grouper discard mortality rate based on the circle hook mandate in the current stock assessment if enough fishermen ask the council to do this. John also said a further reduction could come from a requirement to use decent assist devices on gags suffering from barotrauma. The bad news is that video proof of fishermen using decent assist devices would not allow for a reduction in mortality rates without a requirement for fishermen to use them. My thought on