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For the Fish!!
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In the GOM near reefs no less.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 10, 2009
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH

Fish Trap Proposal Turns Back the Clock on Conservation
Proposal to bring back outlawed gear stuns conservationists
An unusual alliance of environmental groups and commercial longliners is exploring the use of controversial fish traps in the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery, leaving long-time participants in federal fishery management issues surprised at the re-emergence of the highly destructive gear. Fish traps were banned by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in 1996, but were not fully phased out of the Gulf until 2006.
"There are so many things we should be working on for the conservation of our marine resources, yet here we are with another attempt by the environmental community to keep commercial fishing operations in business at all costs," said Pat Murray, president. "It is just baffling that fish traps are back in the discussion, especially when some of these same environmental groups are pushing to give away permanent harvesting rights to the commercial fishing industry through catch share programs. It is difficult to comprehend the ultimate goal of these efforts."
A workshop on the use of fish traps is being sponsored next week in St. Petersburg by the environmental groups Oceana, The Ocean Conservancy and Environmental Defense Fund, and by commercial fishing organizations Southern Offshore Fishing Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance and the Gulf Fishermen's Association. Commercial longliners in the Gulf of Mexico are killing excessive numbers of threatened loggerhead sea turtles and the commercial longline fleet has requested the use of fish traps in return for reducing the longline fishing effort. The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council has agreed to place the use of fish traps as an alternative in its proposals for Reef Fish Amendment 31.
"It should be abundantly clear that substituting one harmful gear for another harmful gear that has already been banned in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic is completely unacceptable," said Russell Nelson, CCA's Gulf Fisheries consultant. "Instead of searching for ways to perpetuate these fisheries which are rife with problems, the focus should be on finding ways to reduce destructive commercial fishing effort to the greatest extent possible."
Among the issues leading to the ban on fish traps in 1996 was the prevalence of lost and abandoned gear that continue to catch and kill untold numbers of fish and other marine life for years. In the South Atlantic region, when fish trappers were allowed to leave traps in the water the Florida Department of Natural Resources documented loss rates of 25, 63 and even 100 percent in some years. Managers also found that traps are capable of exerting more harvesting pressure than traditional hook and line gear because the traps are "fishing" for hours or days at a time.
Click HERE to see comments in opposition to fish traps prepared by CCA Florida.
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For the Fish!!
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure exactly what species. Reef fish is a little broad. But in the past they were used for grouper and snapper. Unfortunately these traps catch unintended fish or by catch as well.
 

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Higher Ed Honk
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So, they're killing too many turtles with an indiscriminate method, but they'll be better stewards if they're allowed to re-adopt an even worse method. I'm curious which environmental groups are signing on.
 

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Vendor
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fish traps

Liz,
Thanks for posting this.

It's surely an unholy alliance when environmental.orgs such as Oceana, Environmental Defense, and the Ocean Conservancy work WITH the commerical fishing interests to continue using these destructive fishing practices.

Really makes you wonder.

Next up? CATCH SHARES.

Tom
 

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Red Grouper. The commercial guys built a convincing case for limited use of fish traps at the CC meeting. At least as a casual observer it seemed to me that they did.

Red grouper are not in particular trouble. NMFS are really worried about gag. Traps are much more discriminatory than longlines as to the type grouper they catch. Almost all reds, very few gags. Longlines catch lots of gags. Same with turtles. Longliners catch a bunch, traps very few.

It sounds to me as if their proposal is a good one, if we want to protect turtles and gags.

The new fish traps also have the same feature as modern crab traps, highly corrosive "fuses" holding the panels together which corrode in two after a couple months or so, which almost eliminates the "gift that keeps on giving" feature.

CCA is just yammering and trying to sell a few memberships and don't care whether it's at the expense of the turtles and gags, long as they can jab the commercial guys and make some hay with it.
 
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Well let me play Devil's Advocate here. There are half a million spiny lobster traps in lower Florida, and around two million northern lobster traps in the State of Maine alone. I won't go into the West Coast with its Dungeness crab traps or the fish traps used for Pacific Cod off Alaska (which is a certified sustainable industry, interestingly). There are probably over 10 million traps used in the US waters today, just guessing.

Myself, I think the "ghost trap" argument is a little overblown. Sure, I help clean up the bay bluecrab traps every year, although we find less and less as compared to when we first started collecting them in February, when we retrieved hundreds at a time. Rarely do I ever see much in these old traps, maybe a few juvies, since they're not baited anymore. I have also fished for lobster in the Northeast and I can say the only fish I ever caught was blackfish, maybe two a year. I can't say I lost any lobster traps either, since those were expensive rigs and we always pulled them before a storm.

I'm sure it's not good for tropical and semi-tropical coral reefs, these fish traps. But could it be that the hue and cry over "ghost traps" is out of line with reality? To me, the only gear that really keeps on fishing is the Gill Net, a horrible machine that catches fish forever. I can also point to a study of Maine lobsters that proved with underwater video that for every lobster caught, 9 others walked in and out of the trap, with countless fish doing the same thing. Funny, one chicken lobster but there were 10 in there at one time? Seems like most of them just walked away.

I'd like to see the science on this. If there is a reason not to use fish traps, if would probably be because of the Right Whales on the East Coast, since the whales have been known to get fouled in the trap lines located in the deeper offshore waters. Can't help it, I'm skeptical of everything I hear and read these days, including global warming. :wink:
 

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I was at the Corpus Christi meeting and heard about the red grouper fish traps as well. With the highly corrosive hogrings on the traps I could see them being successful. I'm not sure how exactly you can target ONE type of grouper as any with a certain body type would fit.
 

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well i know ill get shot as the messenger and let me make it perfectly clear that i have no stake in this fishery , nor do i know anyone who does , but they are targeting specific species of grouper with the traps and they have shown by the type of set , placement , size of entry hole Etc. to be very successful at catching targeted species especially Red Grouper with a very low by-catch rate. unlike in the grouper longline and bandit fishery , the catch of non target species such as Red Snapper , Gag grouper and turtles are virtually non existent
and according to studies and records of the trap fishery before it was phased out there is even a reduced catch of undersized and juvenile fish , why i cant tell you , that's just what the records show ,
if i remember correctly there has been discussion of 100% participation in an observer program , and yes , there is a possibility of seeing 30 out of 60 something long line permits given in trade for the trap fishery ,

now is it a great trade , well you can make that call for your self , but the council is looking at it because it appears to be a a less destructive way of targeting grouper ,

i have learned over time to not take every press release at face value. there is always more to the story.

Liz , not everything that comes out of that office is gospel
 
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