Holly Binns, a project director for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to votes by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to protect the dwindling gag grouper and approve a new plan to prevent overfishing.
“In the past seven years, gag grouper populations have been sliced nearly in half, with males left in short supply. It's clear we need to end overfishing and protect the male population as well as spawning areas to rescue this species. Although the council's plan is a good step, we will learn over time if it's enough to put these fish fully on the road to recovery.
“If gag grouper show signs of rebounding, these new rules can be relaxed, and the restrictions put in place by the council will represent short-term sacrifice. We hope that in perhaps as few as five years, this plan will deliver robust fishing and a bounty of delicious fish for Florida's famous grouper sandwiches.
“The council's vote to place catch limits on about two dozen additional species will prevent overfishing by setting reasonable limits now, before they suffer population declines. This proactive plan will help avoid steeper restrictions in the future, setting a course towards restoring a healthy, balanced ocean ecosystem. It is like visiting the doctor for preventive care, rather than waiting until you end up in the emergency room.”
Visit our work at www.PewEnvironment.org/GulfFish.