Ok guys I think some guys are doing there best to keep rec anglers and others distracted from what is going on.The question is who should make the decisions regarding our future on the sword grounds.
Lets look at the players in this game shall we.
1.Pelagic Long Liners how are represented by an organization called Bluewater.
2.Rec anglers Currently Represented by TBF,SESC,CCA and most of us.
These are the major players on the field at this time.
What they want.Bluewater wants to open part of the straights and get horsepower exceptions on there current permits.What that means is they want to be able to build or outfit bigger boats to fish distant waters.The problem with that is then all the fisheries with HP limits will want to do the same and that could cause a big problem down the road.They also want to raise the bycatch on tuna LLers from 2 fish per trip to a higher number and squid trawl bycatch to 10 from 5 fish per trip.
NMFS says the stock is rebuilt and we need find ways to catch our share of the quota from ICCAT so we do not lose it.
Rec anglers want to keep the closed grounds closed.It all seems so simple on paper or type.
This is were it gets sticky
How does NMFS increase commercial harvest with out opening the closed areas or giving the LL fleet HP exemptions?
The last time the LLers sued to get back in were the only reason the judge kept the areas closed has because the stock was not rebuilt.Now that NMFS is saying that the stock is rebuilt what will keep the judge from opening the closed zones?Bluewater is in the process of suing again to get back in and with NMFS saying the stocks are rebuilt it is likely they would win.
Now the LLers now how big the rec fishery for swords is now and they do not want to fish out front with all the boats and because they know if it becomes a more public issue they could close the area again.If it becomes a war out there and gets put in the papers and such it will be bad press for the whole commercial fishing industry.
So they came up with an idea.Lets get the support of rec anglers by only opening part of the areas and leave the biggest rec area alone.They want to open from Ft.Pierce north opened and from Marathon south opened.They also want rec support with NMFS to raise the bycatch and incidental catch numbers per trip.They would sign a letter of agreement with rec guys never to try to fish in front again.It sounds good unless you fish to the North or South.Plus the swords have tails and swim North of Ft.Pierce and South of Marathon.Not to mention as I have read the rec quota , incidental quota and bycatch quota are all wrapped together.I think it is 300 metric tons for all together.So if they raise the bycatch limits could this impact the rec fishery if the bycatch quota is met!
The funny thing is now buoy gear seems to be of such interest to Bluewater.They did not even care about buoy gear until it was brought up at the NMFS meeting.They caught on to the fact that some Representative of the rec fleet do not like buoy gear personally.Now they are using it as a bargaining point to get the rec guys to sign that letter if Bluewater comes out against buoy gear.This is unfair to the buoy guys in my opinion and they are being put up as sacrificial lambs by both sides.The fact is the reason the rec limit was cut to 3 fish per boat was because the LLers complained to NMFS about rec guys selling fish.Which some are and the 3 fish limit has not changed that and getting rid of all legal commercial fishing will not change that either.Some of the selling rec guys still boat more than 3 fish and just have them ready to pitch over the side if they are approached by another boat on the way in.Then they just go to a private dock and unload there catch.This is no secret just how it is done.None of these fish are counted to wards the quota like the legally caught fish are.
We need to work together not against each other.every time a buoy guy talks they get slammed by people and this is wrong they are on the rec side but some guys see them as the enemy and they are not.There are people that have made it a mission to get rid of buoy guys and this is playing right in to the hands of the LL fleet.Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book.
While TBF,CCA and the SESC are doing there best I think some of them are getting played and do not know it.In my opinion TBF is doing the best job for us rec guys at this time.The big question is who do you want representing your interests in the back door meetings that are currently going on.If some concessions has to be made with Bluewater it should be in a public forum not behind closed doors or with secret meetings.I think rec guys can reach an agreement with Bluewater but only if all rec guys have a fair say.
I would support Bluewater on opening some areas but nothing to the South at all and the North boundary would be closer to Jax!I would support raising bycatch limits but only if it does not impact the rec quota.
We must work together and stop fighting ourselves because if we do not we are doomed.
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