Today in Savannah a SSC presenatation is being made. If you scroll down this document in the link below you will see it.
It's in regards to Speckled Hind and Warsaw Grouper.
If you scroll down that powerpoint to page 13 and 14 you will see two large areas in red designated as large disgard areas for these species.
You can also see the existing MPA's. Pay careful attention to the location of the Edisto MPA off of Charleston and its relationship to the red areas.
The current consensus of the members of the SSC and the fishery managers is to create a much larger MPA to encompass this red area.
Even though neither of these species have ever historically been big impact fisheries and are currently both closed to harvest completely the enviros are there at this meeting pushing the council to close more area to ALL bottom fishing for fear of interaction with these!
We may be in the same situation as we almost were with large area red snapper closure a few years ago!
How some of this got started was and NGO "Wild Earth Gurdians" (which a lot of these groups have ties to each other and this one mostly operates out of the midwest) submitted a request to NOAA for Warsaw Grouper to be considered for an ESA Endangered Species Act listing.
It was turned down, but because of this attempt and the persistance of NGO's to force this issue onto fishery management using threats of lawsuits to make NMFS follow current requirements of National Standards and the current MSA, fishery managers are being forced in a direction to implement very harsh managment with very little to no sound science or evidence to back it up.
Along with everything else we've been facing since the re-authorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act in 2006, this new emphasis being put on Warsaw and Speckled Hind could be a death blow to the fishing industry recreationally and commercially.
A chain of events will start to unfold, PLEASE read this letter;
As you can see when you read this letter it is a structured request for a time line of events from the current chairman of the SAFMC South Atlantic Fisheries Managment Council to the Southeast Director of NMFS National Marine Fisheries Service.
If everything falls in line with this time line as they have so far over the past couple of years we will have new and even more drastic measures put into place for fishery managment by January 1st 1013.
Now you have to understand these two species of fish have never in decades of historical acccounts EVER been so abundant that they were considered a primary target species. They have ALWAYS only been an occasional bicatch species compared to so many others of the snapper/grouper complex.
Now even though the speckled hind and warsaw grouper have both been off limits from ANY harvest for quite a while now and even though they are very seldom impacted by fishing for other species, they will be now protected to the extent equally as much as if they were an ESA listing.
The presentation made to the SSC I first mentioned when I posted this thread also shows new information prensented that indicates these two species interact more so than beleived before with many other shallow water species of bottom dwellers.
This new information along with a new consensus brought out of this SSC meeting last week is now leaning heavily toward more MPA's and closing massive amounts of ocean area to bottom fishing just in order to limit the possibility of impact and creating any dead disgards of these rarely encountered species.
This could be more devasting than anything we have faced till now!
Over the fourty years I fished in the SE Atlantic I have caught both Warsaw and Speckled Hind, but not in great abundance and never as I said as a target species.
This coupled along with presenataions on new Ecosystem based mangement proposals for protecting reef corals with suggestions like no anchoring and limitations on bottom fishing weights etc. will add up to a whole new realm of fishery managment in the future.
PLEASE read the letter link and partisapate in upcoming public hearings that are listed and know that if we don't voice our opinions and concerns then you must be prepared to except whatever happens!
Also NO current SEDAR stock asesments are available for either speckled hind or warsaw grouper since 2002 and dating back to the eighties very little data if any has been scientifically proven or updated. See link below!