The Southern Kingfish Association is calling on its members, tackle manufacturers and the boating and fishing communities to speak out against the closure of certain fishing areas to recreational boaters and anglers.
Recently the National Marine Fisheries Service and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council told fishermen they were "required by law" to close all bottom fishing in more than 1,000 square miles of coastal waters from North Carolina to Florida to protect and rebuild the red snapper populations, though they admit to having insufficient scientific data to make an accurate determination of the health of the stock, the Southern Kingfish Association's Bob Flocken said in a letter to constituents.
The groups also blames Congress for not allocating sufficient funds to do the necessary research to provide the data needed, yet the Magnuson-Stevens Act forces them to close the fishery regardless of consequences, he added.
"The situation is much more severe than you may realize, and unless we unite and put our money where our mouth is, both recreational and commercial fishermen are in big trouble," Flocken said.
The Recreational Fishing Alliance has filed suit in federal court to stop the closures of both the black sea bass and the red snapper fisheries along the East Coast and, along with several other organizations, is planning a Feb. 24 rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.