Don’t mess with success in fisheries management

Originally posted in Tampa Bay Times, March 9,2016

Florida does a great job of fisheries management

ASABOD-AlediaHTushHR2-254x300This recent column in the Times made several confusing and misleading statements about state and federal management of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.

As the owner of a fishing tackle shop and someone who is active in the recreational fishing community, both locally and nationally, I can say without question that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is a leader in innovative and sound fisheries management. In contrast, federal fisheries management seems to only produce one frustrating outcome after another.

For example, I don’t know of any recreational fisherman who would consider current federal management of gulf red snapper a success. At the same time that the stock has been rebuilding at a tremendous pace, the federal season that lasted 180 days in 2007 was reduced to 10 days in 2015.

The author cites statistics highlighting the importance of recreational fishing to Florida’s economy, and indeed Florida is the “Fishing Capital of the World.” But this economic activity is generated largely as a result of the outstanding fisheries management done by the FWC. Similarly, the increasing trends in state fishing license sales noted by the author are a result of the excellent work of the state, not federal fisheries managers. Snook, redfish, speckled trout and tarpon are just some of the state-managed fisheries that provide reasonable fishing access while ensuring sustainable harvest.

I support transferring greater management control of gulf red snapper over to Florida and the other gulf states. I have no doubt that if Florida and the other gulf states were allowed to manage gulf red snapper, the stock would continue to successfully rebuild, but without diminishing opportunities for the public to access and enjoy this public resource.

Aledia Hunt Tush, Sarasota

The writer is president of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters.