Groups back delay in Atlantic bottom-fishing ban

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A variety of fishing and boating groups support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service decision to delay a ban on all bottom fishing in a 5,000-square-mile area of the Atlantic Ocean until June.

An existing ban on commercial and recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters from North Carolina to northeast Florida remains in effect.

NOAA Fisheries is delaying implementing the ban on bottom fishing until June to allow time to consider the results of a new scientific assessment of red snapper. According to NOAA Fisheries, the red snapper population is in better condition than was previously estimated.

Among the groups that support the move are the American Sportfishing Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The sportfishing group released a study in June that highlights the economic battering the Southeast recreational fishing retail market will take if the red snapper fishing ban in federal waters is expanded to all bottom fishing.

The survey showed that the proposed bottom fishing ban would directly affect roughly 1,300 stores that sell bait and tackle. Those businesses would lose an estimated $78 million in sales in the first year of the ban.

The survey additionally found that 578 jobs would be affected.

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