Scuba Spearfishing Ban and Other Actions

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    Bob Pastor
    Keymaster

    Spearfishing Proposal:

    ourfloridareefs.org and The Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) is currently proposing a a ban on scuba spearing in the tri country reefs (RMA N-59). Additionally they are proposing (among many other things) to reduce the lobster mini-season bag limit to 6 per person, (RMA S-97), create a National Marine Sanctuary in SE Florida (RMA S-65), and implement a Marine Protected Area (RMA N-146). Please try to attend a meeting, or use the links for more information and to record your thoughts, opinions, and recommdations.

    THE COMMENT PERIOD ENDS ON MARCH 1ST!

    Text version of Tom Campbell’s presentation at the Jan SFSC Meeting

    Proposal by Our Florida Reefs to :
    A) outlaw use of scuba spear fishing from Dade through St Lucie Counties

    B) reduce mini season catch from 12 to 6
    Who are “Our Florida Reefs”

    Organization formed 15 years ago to protect reef system in the four county area. They are funded by FLDEP. They have staff and some scientists and a number of volunteers. They have good intentions and cover everything from water quality to mooring buoys ,reef protection and in this case fisheries.

    Apparent basis of proposals:

    A) Scuba Spearfish Ban:
    1.From the meeting at Force E:
    *Many other countries ban scuba spear fishing as part of their fisheries management
    *Biscayne bay study showed larger fish were speared vs hook and line.
    *Larger fish are breeders
    2. From Frank and Chiefy (volunteers on OFR) and Internet research
    *The Bahamas have larger more abundant fish and they ban scuba spearing.
    *Pacific Ocean 20 year study recommended ban on scuba spearing in Guam suggesting a “deep refuge ” allowed fish to grow larger and breed more

    B) Mini season lobster limit decrease
    They want to reduce level of reef damage from anchoring and frenzied divers tearing up the reef to get a lobster.

    What can/should you do?
    Provide a written response on the Internet (web address here).
    Go to one or more of the meetings and voice your opinions. (Scheduled meetings here)

    Suggested responses in your own words:
    *Lead with a statement of opposition to A and or B
    * state your usage and enjoyment of A and B and frequency
    *indicate environmental awareness , selective targeting, avoid reef impacts, drift diving without anchoring. Picking up trash on the reef. Helping injured fish and turtles etc.
    * indicate that you typically have limited catch, one or two nice fish or sometimes none
    * challenge the science and provide statistics if you have a good source
    *challenge the fairness of singling out one group
    * suggest alternative management strategies such as:
    ~Increasing size limits on hog fish to 14 or 16 inches
    ~Prohibit anchoring for diving
    ~Reduce bag limits on snapper
    ~Close snapper season during spawning
    ~Prohibit spearing of red grouper
    ~Slot limits for grouper
    ~Commercial spear fishing ?

    From Frank Schmidt:

    We are requesting everyone to register their thoughts. Their voices will be listened to when they comment in either by writing or by attending one of the 6 scheduled meetings. Meeting locations and times attached.

    The main goal of the South East Florida Coral Reef Imitative (SEFCRI) is to help preserve and protect our coral reefs. I joined this organization approximately 10 years ago. I am now one its Board of Directors and serve as a Vice Chair in charge of fishing. SEFCRI is mostly made of approximately 150 people who are largely scientist and academics. Through the years we looked at many management proposals to help our coral reefs. We added Our Florida Reefs (OFR) in the last 3 years to get more involvement from stake holders as to defining and refining management proposals. We also added another organization to give us Technical Advice as to each proposal. (TAC). TAC is largely made up of every Technical person in both government and or academia we could possibly reach and get involved that had an interest in preserving our coral reefs.

    The 68 management proposals that are moving forward have been documented, studied and believed by a majority of the above people to be worthy of potential funding and moved forward. Some may require legislation to become new laws. Some may require FWC to turn them into regulations and some must have enforcement commitments. All need education of the public and some degree of buy in.

    SEFCRI is a funded environmental agency. It is staffed by approximately 15 personnel. It has money to do studies on each proposal and has. OFR and TAC are mostly Government paid people with FWC and or Department of Environment of Florida staff or University level advisors.

    To comment on an RMA, you go to the OFR site and you will see the opportunity to “Comment Now” on the HOME screen (see attached) or follow this link to the RMA comment page: http://ourfloridareefs.org/RMAcomment/.

    2. Next, you click on the Focus Area you want to comment on (Education and Outreach, Fishing, Diving and Other Uses, Land Based Sources of Pollution, Maritime and Coastal Construction, Enforcement). That will bring you to a page with Every RMA for that focus area.

    3. Once you click the RMA you want to comment on, there will be a “Make a Comment” red tab that comes up. That tab takes you to the comment form.
    Thanks
    Frank Schmidt

    Links:

    Home page
    http://ourfloridareefs.org

    For access to all Required Management Actions (RMA)

    Draft Recommended Management Actions: Areas of Focus

    To go directly to the comment section of RMA N-59, Ban on Scuba Spearfishing

    Draft Recommended Management Action (RMA) Comment Form

    To go directly to the comment section of RMA S-97, Reduce Lobster Mimi-Season Bag Limt

    Draft Recommended Management Action (RMA) Comment Form

    To go directly to the comment section of RMA S-65, National Marine Sanctuary in SE Florida

    Draft Recommended Management Action (RMA) Comment Form

    To go directly to the comment section of RMA N-146, Marine Protected Area

    Draft Recommended Management Action (RMA) Comment Form

    To view Our Florida Reefs Community Meeting Schedule (graphic and text version)

    Events

    To view Our Florida Reefs Community Meetings Schedule (graphic version)
    http://ourfloridareefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2016-meetings-orange-text-boxes.jpg

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