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Call to Action: Don't Be in the Fishless Boat

“Without further limitations, this population will continue to decline in Florida...”

Call to Action: Don't Be in the Fishless Boat

"Many fear the stocks will collapse in a few years."


Written comments must be received on or before February 22, 2022. Click here to make public comments on dolphin fishery.


Fish or cut bait. Help or don’t help. There’s a clear line. If you cross it and become part of this effort to bring back a fishery, you’re in one boat. If you don’t, and do nothing, expecting someone else to do it, you’re in another boat. A fishless boat.

Stay out of the fishless boat. Sign the Save The Mahi petition, lift a finger, it takes less than two minutes. If you’ve already signed the petition, send an email to someone from NOAA and tell them how you feel about the dolphin fishery. Now is the time.

Ms. Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator, NOAA Fisheries, laid out where we stand right now. “The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has transmitted Amendment 10 to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service for Secretarial review, and we will take your comments into consideration during the review process.”


“During this process, you will have additional opportunities to comment on the management actions the South Atlantic Council proposed for Atlantic dolphin in Amendment 10.”


Fish or cut bait.

This is our time.

The State of Florida doesn’t want to be in the fishless boat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at their December meeting approved the state’s staff recommendation to lower the current 60-fish boat limit, and 10-fish angler bag limit, to a 30-fish vessel limit and a 5-fish angler bag limit. The FWC will have a final vote on reducing the dolphin limits at their March 2022 meeting.

dolphin fishery decline chart
Based on an alarming drop in dolphin landings, Florida FWC plans to lower bag limits on dolphin from 10 to five fish and lower the vessel limit from 60 fish to 30. The recommended changes will be voted on at March meeting. Unfortunately this will not affect the vast majority of dolphin catches, which take place in federal waters.

Congressman Brian Mast, FL Dist 18, doesn’t want to be in the fishless boat. In a letter to NOAA he wrote, “I encourage the Department of Commerce to follow the lead of the State of Florida by decreasing the per-boat catch number to 30-fish in order to restore the population of dolphinfish off our coast.” Mast continued, “Without further limitations, this population will continue to decline in Florida.”


The fishing clubs, organizations and fishing related businesses (please see the complete list on the next page) who care about the dolphin fishery don’t want to be in the fishless boat.

“If the amendment isn’t modified to reduce recreational bag and vessel limits and no approval of a commercial landing limit is included, many fear the stocks will collapse in a few years,” commented Ellen Peel, President of The Billfish Foundation.

Tom Twyford, the President of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, stated, “The WPBFC has always advocated that we should err on the side of the resource when the biological status of a species/resource is unknown or in question.”


Bill Shedd, Chairman of AFTCO stated, “AFTCO does a lot of business with anglers targeting dolphin and we are fully supportive of this effort to help protect this critical resource.”

Guy Harvey, PhD, is fully behind this campaign. “Definitely, we support this effort. We have supported both Atlantic and Pacific mahi research projects for several years. The mahi sandwich has clearly taken its toll on the mahi populations generally.”

Don’t be in the fishless boat. Join Guy, Bill, Tom, Ellen and dozens of others who took the time to write a letter or make a phone call to save a fishery. See the others who are participating below.


CALL TO ACTION

SIGN THE PETITION

Go to: www.floridasportsman.com/savethemahi and sign the petition.
If you’ve signed the petition and want to really make a difference, send an email to one of the people listed below.
They’ll be determining the fate of our dolphin fishery.

janet.coit@noaa.gov

rick.spinrad@noaa.gov

jessica.mccawley@myfwc.com

andy.strelcheck@noaa.gov

john.carmichael@safmc.net

rick.devictor@noaa.gov


January 4, 2022

Ms. Janet Coit
Assistant Administrator, NOAA Fisheries
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Via email: janet.coit@noaa.gov

Dear Ms. Coit:

Please accept this letter as public comment on behalf of Florida Sportsman Magazine, South Atlantic Fishing Environmentalists (SAFE), The Billfish Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Yamaha Motor Corp, Contender Boats, AFTCO, Maverick Boat Group, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, West Palm Beach Fishing Club, Wild Ocean, Hook & Tackle Clothing, Sailfish Boats, Jacksonville Bluewater Club, Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club, Stuart Rod & Reel Club, Bajio Sunglasses, D.O.A. Lures, Young Boats, Danco Sports Inc., Central Florida Offshore Association, Invincible Boats, Biscayne BoatWorks, Don’s Bait & Tackle, Salt Strong, and Engel Coolers.

We also are writing on behalf of over 5,000 individual anglers who have signed the Save The Mahi petition. (full file of names attached)

We’re writing today regarding Atlantic Mahi Mahi and Wahoo – Amendment 10.

Anglers remain steadfast in objecting to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s approval of Amendment 10 as written. The amendment now with the Secretary of Commerce for final approval is yet to be approved. Anglers and charter captains insist more is needed to ensure the two species will remain available for sportfishing, which are the backbone of the fishery. If the amendment isn’t modified to reduce recreational bag and vessel limits and no approval of a commercial landing limit is included, many fear the stocks will collapse in a few years.

Dolphin are an extremely important species for recreational fishing, in Florida alone over 1-million anglers pump more than 9-billion dollars into the economy annually. In fact surveys regularly show dolphin are the most popular catch among offshore sport fishermen. Downward trends apparent in NOAA Fisheries data for both recreational catches and commercial landings are cause for alarm. Equally concerning is NOAA’s ongoing failure to invest in a current stock assessment.

Scientists may assume dolphin populations are abundant and insulated from overfishing due to the fact that the species is a prolific spawner and widely distributed throughout tropical/subtropical oceans. However, U.S. anglers and charterboat captains by the thousands are seeing a fishery in trouble. Hundreds of public comments made on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s public comment section for Amendment 10 were calling for stricter limits to the dolphin fishery.

We urge you to take immediate measures to help the fishery become more sustainable and provide enhanced enjoyment, recreational opportunities, travel and tourism, and long-term economic stability to the many citizens and businesses that rely so strongly upon the health of the dolphin fishery. These measures we feel are essential to achieve the best overall benefit to our nation and protect the fishery for future generations and include:

  • Reduce the recreational vessel limit for dolphinfish to 30 fish
  • Create a 2,000-pound commercial trip limit
  • Maintain the current 10-fish per angler bag limit
  • Implement a 20-inch minimum for all areas it doesn’t already exist

The following organizations and corporations support the position calling for the Secretary to disprove Amendment 10 as written and provide guidance back to the SAMFC on how to amend the proposal.

Sincerely,

Blair Wickstrom
Publisher
Florida Sportsman Magazine

Jonathon Reynolds
President
South Atlantic Fishing Environmentalists

Ellen M. Peel
President
The Billfish Foundation

Jason Schratwieser
President
International Game Fish Association

Martin Peters
Division Manager, Government Relations
Yamaha Motor Corp, USA

Joe Neber
President
Contender Boats

Bill Shedd
Chairman - CEO
AFTCO

Cory Dugger
President
Maverick Boat Group

Guy Harvey, PhD.
Owner & Founder
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

Tom Twyford
President
West Palm Beach Fishing Club

Rob Kramer
President
Wild Ocean

Stan Rudman
Owner
Hook & Tackle Clothing

Matthew Vetzner
VP Sales
Sailfsh Boats

Tim Altman
President
Jacksonville Bluewater Club

Dale Reed
Board Member, Past President
Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club

Fred Bartlett
President
Stuart Rod & Reel Club

Al Perkinson
Founder, CEO
Bajio Sunglasses

Mark Nichols
President
D.O.A. Lures

Rob Young
President
Young Boats

Mitch Dreisbach
President
Danco Sports Inc.

David Clark
President
Central Florida Offshore Association

Ben Dorton
VP, Brand Strategy
Invincible Boats

Manny Sarmiento
Owner
Biscayne BoatWorks

Wesley Berry
Owner
Don’s Bait & Tackle

Joe Simonds
CEO
Salt Strong

Michael Dixon
VP
Engel Coolers

CC via email:

• Dr. Richard Spinrad - NOAA Administrator - rick.spinrad@noaa.gov

• Mr. Andy Strelcheck - NOAA Southeast Regional Administrator - andy.strelcheck@noaa.gov

• Mr. Rick Devictor - NOAA Southeast Regional Branch Chief - rick.devictor@noaa.gov

• Ms. Jessica McCawley - Director of Marine Fisheries Management - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation - jessica.mccawley@myfwc.com

• Mr. John Carmichael - Executive Director - South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council - john.carmichael@safmc.net


Written comments must be received on or before February 22, 2022. Click here to make public comments on dolphin fishery.


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