03/21/2009 - Few food fish please the palate like the red snapper. But until snapper stocks, particularly the larger breeding fish, are again plentiful off Florida and other Southern Atlantic coastal states, it is sensible to ban their catch by both commercial and recreational fishermen. On March 5, a federal agency that manages fisheries in the region voted to do just that—for four to six months, with an option for six more—encouraged by fisheries biologists and environmental groups while lambasted by charter boat captains and commercial fishermen.
It is understandable that those who depend on fishing, especially in this dismal economy, would want to continue taking fish as preferred for the table as red snapper. But pressing the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council to forego the ban, expected to begin with the peak spawning season this summer, was shortsighted. The fishing industry dismissed sound science, arguing that the fishermen's personal observations of their local catches provide better contrary evidence that the species is plentiful. No doubt their electronic finders can still home in on clusters of snapper for the taking. But that proves nothing about the health of the species.
Read the full editorial Seeing Red Over Red Snapper on the News Journal's Web site.