New Gretna, NJ - The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is encouraging all anglers to attend the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) meeting scheduled for 9:30am on Tuesday, May 24th, 2016. The meeting will be held in the Marine Square Building, 2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor, Newport News, VA 23607. Of greatest interest to recreational fishermen is agenda item 13 which will include a public hearing to consider higher size limits, a vessel limit and closed season for the recreational cobia fishery in 2016.
VMRC is considering revisions to the recreational cobia regulations in response to the NOAA South Eastern Regional Office reporting that both the recreational and total annual catch limits were exceeded in 2015. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council choose up hold the recently changes made to the cobia fishery management plan with regards to annual catch limits and accountability measures. The result, on March 10th NOAA announced through a proposed rule in the federal register that the recreational cobia fishery in federal waters from NY to Georgia will close on June 20th and remain closed through the end of 2016.
RFA submitted a letter to NOAA Assistant Administrator Sobeck requesting that the agency take emergency action under its legal authority contained in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to keep the recreation cobia fishery open through the end of the year. That request has not been acknowledged or honored.
RFA believes that the pending closure is not warranted and is urging the states from New York to Georgia to keep the recreational cobia fishery open in their respective state waters. The most recent assessment of the stock contained in Sedar 28 found that the cobia stock is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. Cobia is an exceptionally resilient and productive species and is in no way in threat of declining or being overfished. Moreover, the data used to estimate recreational landings lacks the accuracy needed to justify taking such drastic action with an error values ranging from 35% to 70% and close to 100% in the northern states.
It is imperative that anglers attend the VMRC meeting on Tuesday and demand that the recreational fishery for cobia remain open in state waters even if under more restrictive measures. RFA Corporate Development Director Gary Caputi will be meeting with Virginia anglers and for-hire operators headed by Capt. Jake Hiles on Monday night and then attending the VMRC meeting on Tuesday morning.
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