Rules, Regulations, and Keepin’ on Fishing

43

By Pam Anderson

An update on NOAA’s proposed actions regarding the Rice’s Whale is not good news. Not only is the agency proposing limited speed and access zones in the Gulf, but they are also now proposing a Critical Habitat Designation for the Rice’s Whale which will add even more restrictions. In their Fishery Bulletin regarding this matter, it states “Only federal agencies are directly affected by a critical habitat designation; non-federal entities may be affected if their activities involve federal funding, permitting, or authorization.” And, “The proposed designation does not create any new regulations or restrictions on fisheries.” But, our military, some of our community partners in shipping, and federally permitted fishing boats will all have to abide by whatever restrictions they plan to impose because our activities are involved in “federal funding, permitting, or authorization.” This will have a very negative economic impact on all who live on the Gulf Coast if these proposals are brought to fruition.

In addition, in the critical habitat designation scenario, the area of concern may change over time because patterns of species like whales and others change their habits. More info on this issue and comments can be made on the NOAA website, as well as at the October Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management’s meeting scheduled here in PCB in late October. Go to www.gulfcouncil.org for details. Be informed: read more about it.

You will also find information regarding a contested issue between NOAA and the fishing industry concerning the use of Fishing Effort Surveys to determine new regulations and restrictions to access Red Grouper (in particular) and more species to come. Members of the Panama City Boatmans Association are looking out for you and other fishing interests.

Bob Zales, owner of Leo Too, Pres., PCBA, and involved with other organizations, stated, “The email I sent on behalf of SOFA, NACO, and PCBA regarding the negative impacts to all sectors, fish houses, restaurants, consumers, and the fish stocks had an impact. These motions require the [Gulf] council and nmfs [NOAA] staff to prepare info on the projected impact by continuing with FES and also require all the FES data compiled by the office of science and technology to the SSC [SE Regional Science & Statistical Committee] for their review. This means they will be looking at the FES impacts and all this info is to be provided to the Council by the October meeting in Panama City.”

The PCB Fishing Rodeo crew has posted this statement: “We have made the very difficult decision to postpone the 2023 Rodeo until next year. Due to unforeseen circumstances with the fishing regulations this year, the species that would be harvestable to weigh in are very limited. We are coming back better than ever in 2024 so stay tuned for more information.”

Even so, the Fall fun will continue… Gag Grouper is open September 1st through November 10th, so all the deep-water charter and head-boats will be heading out to catch Gag Grouper, Vermilion Snapper (of which many are very big this year), all snapper species except for Red Snapper and many more!

Our 10 State-licensed Guide Boats are not only inshore fishing this Fall, but will, like many private anglers, be taking advantage of Florida’s Fall opening of Red Snapper (out to 9 miles) for weekends in September, October, and November! Make plans now to fish State Waters for Red Snapper this Fall.

Information on all the great opportunities in the Grand Lagoon area can be found at www.grandlagoon.com.

When planning your fishing trip, remember Capt. Anderson’s Marina… the home of 3 large Head-boats, 30 private Charter Boats, 10 Guide Boats and 4 Dive Boats… and Shell Island/Dolphin Cruises. Our main fishing and cruising season here is March 1st through October 31st, but many charter and guide boats offer fishing trips all throughout the winter.

Capt. Anderson’s Marina…Where the fish are always biting, and the kids are always smiling. Visit www.CaptAndersonsMarina.com.