March 19, 2012
By David Conway
Management councils work with industry to develop area closures for spiny lobster traps
In news from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council: Working jointly, both the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council have approved measures to help protect threatened corals from the impacts of spiny lobster traps used in the commercial fishery. The South Atlantic Council gave its approval to Amendment 11 to the Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan during its meeting last week in Savannah, Georgia, following earlier approval of the amendment by the Gulf of Mexico Council. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the joint amendment will create 60 area closures throughout the Florida Keys where the use of spiny lobster traps will be prohibited. The closed areas will reduce the likelihood that traps would come in contact with threatened elkhorn and staghorn coral colonies if they are moved by storms. The reef-building corals have experienced substantial declines since the 1980s. Scientists estimate that colonies have declined by 97% of their historic levels.
about this and other fishery management measures taken by the Council during its meeting last week in Savannah, GA. Actions include increases in the Annual Catch Limit for golden tilefish and a request to delay the opening of the commercial black sea bass season.