RFA Opposes Special Longline Permits
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) submitted written comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) opposing any efforts to reintroduce pelagic drift longlines into areas where the gear has been restricted.
"The RFA has a number of concerns regarding the issuance of Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) and Scientific Research Permits (SRPs) for the collection of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS)," wrote Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director, in his January 26th letter to NMFS.
"While the RFA supports scientific research for HMS and cooperative research done between government scientists and fishermen, the NMFS process for dealing with EFPs and SRPs must be opened up more to the public," wrote Mr. Donofrio. "The issuance of such permits may conflict with current management measures. The public should be fully informed about the gear that will be deployed (full deion), the time and location of the deployment, the number of fish to be taken, and the public benefit to be gained from the issuance of such permits."
"Last March NMFS considered a ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œCooperative Research Proposal to Monitor the Abundance of Swordfish in the Florida East Coast Management AreaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ that involved reintroducing pelagic drift longline gear in a closed area," continued Mr. Donofrio. "The RFA was opposed to reintroducing longlines in closed areas then and we are opposed to it now."
Marlin, tuna, sharks and swordfish are all extremely important for our NationÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s economy and quality of life. NMFS rulemakings, NMFS Biological Opinions, NMFS Environmental Impact Statements, volumes of public comment, Congressional testimony, and pending federal legislation all recognize that pelagic drift longlines kill too many marlin, too many sailfish, too many sharks, and too many juvenile swordfish.
Current NMFS time/area closures to pelagic drift longlining are reducing this waste. HMS stocks are benefiting from these closures, as are fishermen, boat builders, fishing tackle manufacturers, charter boat businesses, bait and tackle retailers, marinas, and many other businesses in fishing communities. Therefore, it is completely inappropriate to issue any EFPs or SRPs that would permit the deployment of pelagic drift longlines in contravention to any of the NMFS time/area closures in place.
"It is also unnecessary to issue any EFPs or SRPs that would permit longlining in closed areas," wrote Mr. Donofrio. "Selective hand gear fisheries can provide NMFS with all the data necessary to monitor HMS stocks. Any longline specific research that is deemed necessary can be done outside closed areas in waters where there is less likely to be significant bycatch."
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our NationÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s saltwater fisheries. For more information, call 1-888-JOIN-RFA
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