Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. regulators cut longline grouper fleet by 50%

Federal regulators decided Thursday to cut Florida's longline grouper fleet in half to protect loggerhead turtles.

Longliners, who string miles of hooks along the bottom, catch about two-thirds of the commercial grouper that end up in restaurants and seafood counters.

From time to time, they also catch and kill loggerheads, a protected species whose nests on Florida beaches have dwindled in recent years.

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, which manages federal waters, shut down longlining in June, as an emergency measure, after a report indicated that longliners were killing way more loggerheads than previously thought.

The rules passed Thursday are designed to be permanent, though they will take about six months to implement.

Under the new rules, only the most successful long­liners — 61 boats that average at least 40,000 pounds of grouper a year — can continue using that method.

A longline boat can put no more than 750 hooks into the water at one time. Some boats typically used twice that many.

From June through August, longliners must fish in water that is at least 210 feet deep, where turtles might be less likely to forage.

The National Marine Fisheries Service will now conduct a "biological opinion" study required under the Endangered Species Act to determine if these new restrictions are sufficient to protect the turtles.

The effect on the marketplace is uncertain. Demand for grouper has fallen during the recession, plus some longliners are learning how to catch grouper with other methods that are not restricted under the new rules.

U.S. regulators cut longline grouper fleet by 50% 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  2. Tampa officer treated for knee injury after police truck, police SUV collide


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was treated and released for a knee injury after an unmarked police truck collided with his patrol SUV while following a stolen car, a police spokesman said.

  3. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed


    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
  5. Everyone on Twitter is making this same eclipse joke


    Today's total solar eclipse is, of course, a social media event as much as it is a natural phenomenon. Twitter even rolled out an #eclipse hashtag that automatically adds an eclipse emoji.

    The solar eclipse is inspiring Twitter humor.