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Billfish at Heart of Longline Permit Opposition by Recreational Fishing Organizations 

 

Schneider Trophy winner Jacob Lepera releasing one of his many sailfish in 2016. Leonard Bryant photo
Schneider Trophy winner Jacob Lepera releasing one of his many sailfish in 2016. Leonard Bryant photo

They’re back! Swordfish and sailfish that is. Several leading recreational fishing and boating organizations are working hard to keep it that way in the wake of a Florida company’s application to get a federally exempted fishing permit to introduce longlining into the East Florida Coast Pelagic Longline (PLL) Closed Area. This area extends along the entire east coast of Florida, north of Jacksonville and south to the Keys (see map).

“There’s no mistaking what caused the plight of swordfish off the East Coast of Florida more than two decades ago,” says Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “It’s a fact – longlining was killing too many juvenile swordfish.”

Using bycatch rates generated from a 2008-2010 study, an estimated 5,199 juvenile swordfish, 1335 blue marlin, 392 white marlin and 2,421 sailfish would additionally be killed if the exempted fishing permit is issued. 

“The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering another brazen attempt to profit from the conservation gains made by the East Florida Coast PLL Closed Area,” says Angers. “Recreational anglers, who were at the forefront of advocating for swordfish recovery, have made their opposition to this exempted fishing permit loud and clear by sending more than 600 comments to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Without one, single comment in favor of the permit, we are hopeful NMFS will decline this misguided pursuit of conservation riches.” www.sportfishingpolicy.com

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