Holly Binns, Project Manager for the Pew Environment Group's Campaign to End Overfishing in the Southeast, issued the following statement today in response to Rep. John Mica's (R-Fla.) new legislation that would block a moratorium federal fisheries managers initially approved in March temporarily halting red snapper fishing from North Carolina to Florida. The moratorium is awaiting final approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Congressman Mica's bill is counter-productive. It will only delay much-needed action to save red snapper. Some of the best fisheries scientists in the Southeast spent years studying the severe effects of overfishing on this iconic species. They concluded red snapper are at critically low levels and older fish, the best spawners, are rare. We should not wait for more studies while the red snapper population continues to plummet. It is time for decisive action to ensure the health of our fish and our valuable ocean ecosystem.”
“We have all the evidence and independent science required to enact a long-term recovery plan. Red snapper are at just three percent of 1945 levels because of wait-and-see fishery policies – a mistake this bill would repeat. They have been fished at up to 14 times the sustainable rate since 1960. After careful consideration and abundant evidence, federal fishery managers have taken a courageous step to save red snapper. This legislation threatens to undo years of scientific research, careful policy consideration and public input.”
“This fish is facing commercial extinction. While a red snapper moratorium may bring short-term economic pain for some fishing interests, failing to act will hurt everyone in the long run. If we let the rebuilding plan begin with this temporary moratorium, the red snapper population should begin to recover, providing more robust fishing than we have today.”