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Fishing for Ideas Today on Keeping FL Fishermen in Business

July 15, 2008

St. Petersburg, FL - Take a few and throw one back -- that's part of a proposal to end overfishing in Florida waters and give depleted species a chance to recover, and state residents are being asked for their "two cents' worth" on the topic today.

Tom Wheatley with the Marine Fish Conservation Network says a science-based approach to ending overfishing is a good first step, but there's more to consider.

Wheatley says a scientific report from the Bush administration four years ago promoted the idea that oceans need to be managed with an eye to the bigger picture, and many things can affect the health of the ocean as well as that of fish populations.

"Whether it's off-shore drilling, or fishing, or liquefied natural gas, all of these things have a collective impact on the environment, and they collectively impact our opportunities to fish in the future."

According to Wheatley, the proposed rule to end overfishing is widely supported.

He says another plan to streamline environmental review of fisheries decisions is being heavily scrutinized because it would cut the current 45-day window for input to 14 days. Wheatley points out that because some commercial fishermen are out in the Gulf for more than two weeks at a time, they would be left out of the process.

"Commercial fishermen often have the best ideas on achieving profitability within their industry while at the same time having the minimum impact on the environment. They're not being heard often enough as it is."

Additional information about the efforts of Marine Fish Conservation Network are online at
www.conservefish.org.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - FL