As a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Snapper/Grouper Advisory Panel, it’s important to address the implementation of the Snapper Grouper Amendment 36 – Spawning Special Management Zones (SMZs).
Over the past four years, I’ve listened to, read and studied in-depth testimony discussing the effectiveness, locations, and implementation of SMZs. A wide sector of user groups; including marine scientist, researchers, data managers, conservationist, bureaucrats and legacy commercial, recreational and for-hire fishers has delivered this information.
Sanctuaries protecting spawning habitat for snapper/grouper make common sense. They improve fishing, by protecting the cradle of future stocks. They improve the access to plentiful fish. Take for an example, the extraordinary rebound Florida’s mutton snapper fishery being directly connected to the creation of the Riley’s Hump, an SMZ at the far tip of the Florida Keys. Anglers have benefitted greatly because this critical spawning habitat has been protected, and now Riley’s has become a prolific fish producing heaven.
I strongly support this process. I’m also a strong advocate of wise regulations designed to improve and protect the future of our marine fisheries. With an ever expanding fishing population and limited marine resources, it is critical to take immediate action to protect better and monitor those special spawning sites for snapper and grouper and provide funds to enforce these SMZs.
Like our parks on land, ocean sanctuaries make common sense and because of this, I support the Snapper Grouper Amendment 36 – Spawning Special Management Zones.
Perhaps you want to see proof; I suggest you take the time to investigate the work of marine scientist and research developer, Dr. Will Heyman. Pay special attention to the research and implementation of SMZ in Belize, and how these sanctuaries protect spawning aggregations of snapper, grouper and other reef fishes. In Belize, commercial fishermen love Dr. Heyman for the work he has done helping them establish SMZs in their areas.
The next time you hear someone talking negatively about marine protected areas, remember, properly managed sanctuaries make common sense. They can also make fishing better for very large areas and improve the access to plentiful grouper and snapper by protecting special spawning sites.