Comments on the Final Rule Implementing the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment in the South Atlantic Region

On December 19, 2011, Sera Drevenak and Holly Binns of the Pew Environment Group's Gulf of Mexico Fish Conservation Campaign wrote to support the immediate implementation of the Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit (ACL) Amendment. The Amendment affords critical protections to South Atlantic fisheries by implementing new requirements in the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and National Standard 1 (NS1) Guidelines. This proactive approach is intended to prevent overfishing by setting reasonable catch limits to keep fish populations from plummeting to critically low levels, and to set the course for a healthy, balanced ocean ecosystem.

It also helps address some potential consequences of the red snapper fishing moratorium and additional protections approved in 2010 for other dwindling species. Without those species to target year-round, anglers will likely shift their focus to other fish, which could lead to unhealthy population declines. Adopting this comprehensive plan will allow the Council to take a big-picture look at fish and fishing, get ahead of the curve and hopefully avert tougher, more painful restrictions in the future by managing fish populations wisely now.