03/06/2009 - Fishermen might only have a few months to reel in red snapper off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida following a decision Thursday to halt such fishing for six months. That ban might stretch into a full year.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved the ban on a 7-6 vote in an attempt to allow stocks to recover. The six-month ban comes with an optional six-month extension. The council is responsible for all fish stocks off the Southeast coast.
Holly Binns of the nonprofit Pew Environment Group said that while closures can create hardships for fishermen, federal law is clear that fishery managers must protect severely over-fished species.
"The council made a difficult but necessary decision to protect red snapper for the long term," she said.
Binns said the interim closure will probably be extendedfor the optional six months to allow scientists and fishery managers time to finish and approve a protection plan. That plan might mean red snapper is off-limits for several years or until the population rebuilds.
Read the full article Fishery Council Approves Six-Month Ban on Red Snapper Fishing on the Hilton Head Island Packet's Web site.