GOV. SCOTT: FEDERAL POLICY MUST ALLOW MORE FISHING OPPORTUNITIES, NOT LESS

Today, Governor Rick Scott sent a letter to Secretary Penny Pritzker of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In his letter Governor Scott outlines his disappointment in the lack of flexibility the federal system allows for the management of the red snapper season and other stock fish. The full letter is below and attached.

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April 17, 2014

 

 

 

The Honorable Penny Pritzker

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

 

Dear Secretary Pritzker:

Florida’s natural resources, especially those along our coast, are critical to our economy and communities. For example, Florida’s Gulf Coast communities depend upon the Red Snapper fishery to draw in visitors, keep for-hire vessels working, and fill local hotels, shops and restaurants. As with other natural resources in Florida, our state agencies have invested a significant amount of time, resources and study into ensuring we prudently manage this important asset.

This week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) just set a 52-day summer recreational red snapper season in Florida state waters of the Gulf of Mexico for 2014. This eight day increase in the summer season will provide recreational harvest opportunities for Florida’s residents and visitors, economic opportunities for Florida businesses, while also allowing the continued recovery of the fishery. I am proud of the Commission’s action and their willingness to balance the economic needs of Florida’s coastal communities with the need to rebuild the red snapper fishery.

I am very disappointed; however, in how the federal system has been managing red snapper and other fish stocks. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Act) lacks much needed flexibility. The recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will be only a few days this year – assuming harvest is even allowed. Federal recreational season lengths have declined from 365 days per year to likely less than 11 days this year, all while anglers have watched red snapper become more abundant as the stock continually improves.

The Act must be modified to allow more fishing opportunities; not less, as fish stock improves. Under the current system, the Federal Fishery Management Council process and the Act are unnecessarily rigid and too often penalize fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on them. Better stock assessments and recreational data collection are key to managing our recreational and commercial fisheries. We all want healthy fish stock, but we also need to ensure our local businesses and communities that depend on fishing continue to thrive.

As this act is revised and reauthorized by Congress, I urge you to support amendments that incorporate more flexibility, more up-to-date data collection, and seriously consider social and economic needs. A balance must be struck so anglers of present and future generations can continue to participate in a fishery while it continues to grow. Now is the time for action and change. Now is the time to fix what is broken and to turn disappointment and frustration into a success story for those who depend upon and enjoy our fisheries.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Rick Scott

Governor

 

cc: Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Marco Rubio

Representative Jeff Miller

Representative Steve Southerland

Representative Ted Yoho

Representative Ander Crenshaw

Representative Corrine Brown

Representative Ron DeSantis

Representative John Mica

Representative Bill Posey

Representative Alan Grayson

Representative Daniel Webster

Representative Richard Nugent

Representative Gus Bilirakis

Representative David Jolly

Representative Kathy Castor

Representative Dennis Ross

Representative Vern Buchanan

Representative Thomas Rooney

Representative Patrick Murphy

Representative Alcee Hastings

Representative Theodore Deutch

Representative Lois Frankel

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Representative Frederica Wilson

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart

Representative Joe Garcia

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

 

 

 

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