Local

Federal fish council eyes for-hire limit

Offshore charter boats, like these seen at a dock in Islamorada, could face new federal rules on for-hire permits in federal waters.
Offshore charter boats, like these seen at a dock in Islamorada, could face new federal rules on for-hire permits in federal waters. Keynoter

A review of options on for-hire permits issued to charter and head boats harvesting snapper and grouper species goes before the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at its North Florida meeting Monday through June16.

The Florida Keys are home to 326 charter and head boats holding snapper-grouper permits for federal waters outside state limits, more than a fifth of the 1,528 permits for Atlantic waters ranging from the Keys to North Carolina.

Islamorada, Marathon and Key West are listed as among South Atlantic charter-fishing “hot spots” in the paper being presented next Wednesday to the agency’s Snapper-Grouper Committee at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville.

Imposing a limit on for-hire permits could reduce a perceived “overcapacity” in the fishing fleet, assure crew professionalism, improve reporting data and help prevent the over-harvest of some struggling fisheries, the agency notes.

“Most of the comments received in the last 12 to 18 months have been in opposition to limited entry,” a fishery analyst reported.

Objections raised to the proposal include concern over a “sector separation” issues between recreational and commercial allocations that lead to individual quotas; and create a monopoly that prevents newcomers from entering the business. The number of federal snapper-grouper has not changed much in a decade, commenters noted.

FWC online meeting

The board of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission holds a special online meeting at 2 p.m. Friday to consider proposals on recreational red snapper in Gulf of Mexico waters.

“Discussions [with federal managers] are focused on aligning a possible expanded federal water season on weekends and holidays through the summer with existing seasons for state waters across all five Gulf states, including Florida,” an FWC spokeswoman said.

Comments will be taken during the online session. Directions for participating in the session will be posted at www.myfwc.com/About.

  Comments