Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Historic Commercial Harvest Closure for Dolphin

Harvest of Atlantic dolphin remains open for recreational anglers
The federal government is having more and more to say about the marine natural resources off the Southeast coast, and depending on the species of fish, that can affect recreational and commercial fisherman. In this case, the first-ever closure of the commercial harvest of Atlantic dolphin will begin on June 30. This closure does not affect recreational anglers, who remain free to pursue this prized and pretty fish, but it does signal to everyone that these resources are not limitless.

Jack McGovern is an Assistant Fisheries Manager with NOAA and he told me that this was indeed a historic first-time closure. “With the authorization of the Magnuson-Stevenson Act by Congress in 2012, Atlantic dolphin commercial catch limits were set, but for whatever reason they did not meet those amounts the last two years,” said McGovern. The current closure goes into effect from Maine through the East coast of Florida and is scheduled to reopen on January1, 2016.

“An amendment to the commercial catch for dolphin has already been approved which will increase their catch-share limit up to 10-percent of the fishery,” said McGovern. “That amendment has to undergo a round of public comments at our annual South Atlantic Fishery Management Council summer meetings. If the amendment is enacted, then the commercial harvest of dolphin could potentially reopen in the fall of 2015, allowing commercial fisherman another opportunity to harvest the remainder of the new limits.”

What this means to recreational anglers is that their own catch-limits must shrink by the same amount now allocated to commercial endeavors. Roughly 90-percent, a large majority will remain with recreational anglers in 2015 if the amendment takes affect. The commercial closure is done in the name of protecting the dolphin-wahoo fishery, but some might question how adding more to be taken via commercial efforts actually helps the fishery. And to the non-angler and general public, a commercial closure simply means less availability to fresh mahi at the seafood counter and possibly in restaurants.

To read more of this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.

To view past blog entries about recreational fishing for Atlantic dolphin click 2015 - 201420132012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 

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