Fishermen and fisherwomen have long been crying out for good science in fishery management. One local captain has taken the battle cry to congress.
The subject was the focus of a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. The committee met recently to discuss the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries program, The question to be answered was, ‘Is the a lack of basic science on fishing costing jobs in our coastal communities?’
Among those testifying was Captain David Nelson from Port Orange. Nelson, also a teacher, said he was not nervous about testifying in front of the committee. “I’m in front of eighth-grade kids all the time. Congressmen don’t scare me.”
Nelson’s message was clear – rules and regulations imposed by federal officials are based on poor science and the results are negatively affecting jobs and economic activity in the fishing industry.
“My point is the science is wrong,” Nelson said. “We’re proving it now even more.”
Nelson and other east coast fishermen base their statements on observations they make while fishing and on reported flawed assessments based on inadequate computer models. Many fishermen have reported the snapper stocks to be much better than indicated by the data being used in management decisions.
Nelson hopes his testimony will help reverse or alter the current ban on red snapper fishing which lasts through December and place a spot light on good science for all fishery management decisions.
The current ban covers a large area off the east coast from Central Florida to North Carolina. It came about because some researchers believe that red snapper has been overfished and needs protection.
Needles to say, if the data is flawed many in the fishing industry are being harmed without justification.
Dennis O’Hern, executive director of the Fishing Rights Alliance commented on unnecessary closures. “People’s livelihoods are being ruined by the government’s reliance on flawed data and outdated science,” O’Hern said. “These are real people with families to feed, not just numbers on spreadsheets.”
You can view a video of Captain Nelson’s testimony by clicking here.
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