03/06/2009 - Catching red snapper in local waters could become illegal as early as June under a temporary ban passed Thursday by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
The council approved the measure by a 7-6 vote during its quarterly meeting at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The group will recommend the ban's implementation to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which governs fishing in United States waters.
The ban would only apply to red snapper but is controversial largely because of its potential impact on all offshore fishing. Red snapper are incidentally caught with other deep-sea fish, including grouper and sea bass, and often don't survive once brought to the surface, rendering a catch-and-release approach ineffective.
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"What they are telling us about seeing more red snapper is supported by the science, but the science also tells us red snapper are in big trouble," said Holly Binns, a proponent of the ban and a project manager with the Pew Environmental Group. "If we continue to fish down these younger classes of red snapper at the rates we're fishing now, it could be a recipe for disaster."
Read the full article Snapper Ban Could Start in June on the Savannah Morning News' Web site.