Snapper Overfishing|Declined, Says Agency

     WASHINGTON (CN) – While a National Marine Fisheries Service’s stock assessment of the snapper-grouper fishery finds that the red snapper is “overfished and undergoing overfishing” the agency will not close the season on the fishery because “the rate of overfishing found in the stock assessment is less than the rate of overfishing found in the previous stock assessment” according to an emergency rule issued by the agency to prevent automatic closure under a fisheries management plan for the snapper.




     The agency said that its Scientific and Statistical Committee had concluded that based on the current assessment “the snapper-grouper area closure approved [in the management plan] is more conservative that what is needed to end overfishing of red snapper.”
     The emergency rule which applies to the fisheries of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the south Atlantic states, expires on June 1, 2011.
     At the same time the agency has issued final rules implementing the management plan for the fishery that places a ban on fishing for or possession of snapper- but which is temporarily suspended by the emergency rule.
     Each year, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act the agency must pass continuing rules for fisheries subject to stock management plans and stay or execute the rules depending on stock assessments to cause as little adverse socioeconomic impact on the fishery as possible.
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