Future of Snapper, Grouper in South Atlantic Dangling on a Hook

Media Contact:
Tim McHugh, Media Relations Manager
Telephone: (202) 351-0492

May 10, 2012

In response to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announcement to remove the entire 240-foot snapper-grouper closure in the South Atlantic, Ocean Conservancy’s Deputy Director of Fish Conservation Program, Elizabeth Fetherston, issues the following statement:

“Ocean Conservancy is disappointed by the recent decision of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to remove the entire 240-foot (40-fathom) snapper-grouper closure in the South Atlantic, leaving the future of these fish dangling on a hook. This decision essentially leaves no management measures in place to ensure speckled hind and warsaw grouper do not continue to be subject to overfishing, and does nothing to recover these vulnerable and long-depleted populations. With a scientifically assigned catch limit of zero, it is unclear how removing the closure will provide the protection that the law requires and that the science has shown is necessary for recovery of deepwater grouper species like speckled hind and warsaw grouper.”

“These long-lived, slow growing fish are negatively impacted by accidental capture at these depths as they are unlikely to survive catch and release fishing. Interaction with these fish in deep water could negatively impact their population and thus removal of the closure may lead to further depletion of vulnerable deepwater species. The snapper-grouper closure was deemed necessary to prevent overfishing of these two species when it was first established at the beginning of 2011, with the statement that a prohibition on catch of these species ‘would not be sufficient to end overfishing of speckled hind and Warsaw grouper.’ Nonetheless, NMFS has decided to reopen the area without implementing any alternative protective measures.”

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