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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Environmental group calls Sen. Bill Nelson's red snapper bill 'serious setback'



An environmental group Thursday sharply criticized legislation by Sen. Bill Nelson that would delay plans to scale back South Atlantic red snapper fishing.

“This bill undermines the plan that federal fishery managers approved in June to put this species on the road to recovery," said Holly Binns manager of Pew Environment Group's campaign to end overfishing. "Red snapper are at 3 percent of healthy population levels and they may not survive without the protections scientists recommended. The red snapper recovery is on the right track, but this could deliver a serious setback.”

Nelson's office pointed to a speech the lawmaker gave today on the bill, arguing that regulations were coming faster than data to support them. "These closures have devastated small businesses that rely on fishing and left many frustrated that they cannot access the same waters that they always could," Nelson said. He went on:

"Being a native Floridian, I know that many people develop a love for the ocean and a desire to protect it after they truly experience it by swimming, fishing off their boat, or listening to the waves. This access is a necessary component of conservation because the public gains a sense of ownership and this leads to a sense of responsibility.

"That is why I am filing the Fishery Conservation Transition Act today. The bill will enable individuals, businesses, and communities to make a smooth transition while the science catches up by creating a phase-in period for federal fishing regulations and requiring enhanced data collection in the interim. It also allows for economic assistance for those who are negatively impacted by management measures.

"Others have proposed different solutions to this problem, but I believe that my bill is a targeted solution that gives resource managers options to allow access to the water in a way that will also achieve conservation goals.

"There are provisions in the bill that require fishery managers to use the transition time wisely and research creative solutions to complex management issues, like how to manage multispecies fisheries in a way that protects the vulnerable stocks but still allows for access. This bill is also about jobs. Small businesses that rely on the fishing industry can ride out these difficult economic times without sacrificing the resource their businesses rely on."


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:13am]


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