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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Happy New Year -- Practice writing "2010."

Friday, January 01, 2010:

Just a quick stop-by to wish everyone a super new year. Here’s to your health, finances and love life, may they be in peak form for 2010. And congrats to Penn States football team for a beauty of a win over powerhouse LSU. A point is all it takes to win big during a bowl game.
It was a great looking ocean out there today, as light winds and small waves made the beach quite appealing for first-of-year anglers. I got reports of folks on the beach with apparently nothing to show for the effort. By tomorrow, there will a frozen feel to the air.

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[South Florida Sun-Sentinel] By David Fleshler Staff Writer Cammy Clark of The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Miami- Dec 31, 2009 - At City Oyster of Delray Beach, alongside sevruga caviar, beef tenderloin and lobster risotto, the menu offers blackened grouper with mango-pineapple salsa for $29.

Although it's a popular dish, it soon will be coming off the menu because a four-month fishing ban is about to go into effect from Key West to North Carolina.

The commercial and recreational catch of shallow-water grouper will be prohibited starting Friday in federal waters and on Jan. 19 in state waters to protect 10 species during spawning season.

Fishing regulators say the tight clumps of spawning grouper are highly vulnerable to being scooped up by commercial fishing boats.

'It's a high-priced fish, so there's a lot of demand for it, and a lot of people are going after them,' said Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. 'We ought to give these fish a chance to spawn successfully and create the young fish that replenish the population down the road.'

Many fishing captains oppose the ban, saying it's based on flawed science and comes during hard economic times.

But many restaurants and seafood markets accept the restriction as necessary to protect a commercially vital group of fish.

'It's a very popular fish, which is why it's been overfished,' said Todd Herbst, a partner in the company that owns City Oyster. 'Of course we're going to honor the ban. It's unfortunate, but if we're going to have any hope of serving grouper again, we're glad to do it.'

At Old Dixie Seafood in Boca Raton, grouper costs $21.99 a pound, as much as wild-caught Alaskan salmon.

But co-owner Larry Siemsen said it's one of the shop's biggest sellers. Despite the ban, he still will be able to get it from suppliers who import from Mexico and Honduras.

'It could cost a little more, but I can still get it,' he said.

Although the ban will result in higher prices, he said he supports it to protect the species. 'I can live with it,' he said. 'It's good to give everything a little break now and then.'

Although restrictions are expected in the Gulf of Mexico, that area will remain open in the immediate future. In the Keys, however, the bans will include state waters on the Atlantic and Gulf sides, and will coincide with the peak tourist season.

'This couldn't come at a worse time,' Andy Griffiths, who owns a three-boat charter operation near Key West, told The Miami Herald. 'My business already is off 80 percent because of the economy.''

Griffiths said he now charges 1990 prices, just enough to pay the captain and mate and keep the boats running.

'This ban will put people out of business using bad science and no complete economic studies,' Griffiths said. 'It is Draconian.'

Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said he agrees that the data collection that led to the closure is 'antiquated.' But he said a state ban was necessary to be consistent with the federal ban and to protect these species.

''We want to do the right thing,' he said. 'And hopefully the closure will speed up the recovery effort of grouper.'

At Cap's Place, the venerable waterfront restaurant in Lighthouse Point, grouper is prized as among the most versatile of fish, served blackened, grilled, sauteed or deep-fried as grouper fingers. Despite its popularity, Talle Hasis, whose family owns the restaurant, says it will come off the menu.

'It's going to be a shame, but it's necessary to keep the species going,' she said. 'If we want to have grouper for the next generation, we have to protect them.'

At Tarks of Dania Beach, owner Ted Itzoe said the grouper sandwich will remain on the menu, along with grilled grouper, blackened grouper and grouper-topped salad because he gets his fish from outside the area.

As a diver, Itzoe said, he has seen what commercial fishing has done to Florida's marine environment. 'I know what's going on down there,' he said. 'The grouper population is clearly depleted.'

The only effect the ban will have on him: 'The prices will go up big-time.'

Details of the ban

When: January through April in federal waters; Jan. 19 through April in Florida waters.

Where: From Key West to southern border of North Carolina, and all state waters in the Florida Keys.

Species: Gag grouper, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, tiger grouper.

Natural history: They can grow more than 4 feet long, reach weights of more than 150 pounds, and live up to 30 years.
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SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton - Dec 23, 2009 - John Pappalardo, chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council, has written to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke requesting an independent and comprehensive review of the efficiency and operations of the Council, the Northeast Regional Office of NMFS, and the Northeast Science Center.

He says 'Our region's bureaucracy is unable to efficiently meet its expanded obligations.'

It is anticipated that other organizations and individuals will sign onto the letter in the coming weeks.

In his letter, Pappalardo writes 'the changes outlined in the reauthorized Magnuson Stevens Act have placed additional demands on each of these three entities, and it has become clear that our region's bureaucracy is unable to efficiently meet its expanded obligations.'

He asks the Commerce Secretary for 'help in implementing a visionary pilot in New England that is a necessary first step in making these critical improvements.'

He cites as one important area to be addressed 'the communication and coordination among these institutions.' Noting that 'the leaders of each entity have repeatedly acknowledged significant challenges with inter-organizational communication, but these challenges appear to be increasing rather than improving.

He also observes that 'our bureaucracy is often driven by process and protocol rather than by mission and outcome.'

Over the last two decades, great strides have been made in our understanding of the design and realignment of public agency infrastructure to foster innovative, adaptive and effective management. In light of these advances, it is time to evaluate our current system, identify inefficiencies, and implement appropriate solutions.

He asks that the review be conducted by a management consultant, and include:

¥ Extensive interviews with leadership and staff of each organization as well as a wide range of fishery stakeholders to understand their respective views on the performance of the current system and their suggestions for reforms.

¥ An objective and thorough evaluation of the internal structure and management practices of each entity.

¥ A rigorous assessment of the coordination and communication among the three entities and specific suggestions for necessary improvements.

¥ A detailed and public summary of the findings of this initiative as well as the resulting recommendations.

Noting that Congress recently approved the Fiscal Year 2010 budget including a line item of $191 million dollars for Fisheries Management, he asks that his request be funded using those funds.

The letter was also delivered to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Margaret Spring, Patricia Kurkul, Dr. Nancy Thompson, and Paul Howard.

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