Originally published 5/5/2023 | billfish.org | Click here for original article.
After 23 years of defending the Closed Zones off the U.S. East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) just shared its options in Amendment 15 to open the Zones again to pelagic longline fishing.
It was pelagic longline fishing that brought about the Closed Zones for at the time the U.S. vessels were killing the largest quantity of juvenile swordfish among all nations fishing for the Atlantic species. If the swordfish nursery areas are in open zones, stock declines will likely follow, as will anglers’ hook-up rates for billfish, tunas, swordfish and near-shore species.
We must keep as much of the Closed Zones closed to pelagic longlining as possible, but we need your help to maximize our work. The agency’s bureaucratic process will continue until September 2023; we will keep you informed and will call on your help during the process.