NOAA creating protected areas in Southern U.S.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service plans to announce the final rule creating eight marine protected areas off four Southern states, according to the American Sportfishing Association.

Although the rule will establish eight MPAs for the snapper/grouper fishery, the ruling itself does not ban sportfishing altogether. Bottom fishing in the designated areas is prohibited, but trolling is permitted.

The MPAs are intended to protect a portion of the habitat of long-lived, slow-growing deepwater snapper and grouper from current fishing pressure within the proposed MPAs, while minimizing the adverse effects on the sportfishing industry, recreational anglers and the coastal communities that benefit from fishing.

There is also a provision in the rule that allows for review and lifting of the restrictions if data indicates goals have been met.

“Do we like restrictions on recreational fishing? Of course not. However, this was a deliberative and public process where all the known facts were laid on the table,” ASA president and CEO Mike Nussman said in a statement.

“In this case, the facts said that restricting access to the snapper/grouper fishery in certain designated areas was in the best interests of the fisheries and the communities and industries that depend on them and we support that,” he added.

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