Gulf Fish Forever The Gulf of Mexico provides jobs, food, and recreation to millions of people. As a marine habitat, it is a national treasure that we should all want to preserve. Commercial fishing is a key economic driver around the Gulf. Recreational fishing is an important element in every part of the economy; from tourism to boat sales, fuel, and tackle. But we have a problem - it is called overfishing. Both commercial and recreational fishermen are now so efficient that we catch fish faster than nature can replace them. Without robust fish populations, every one of us will suffer - not just the fish.
Priority - Rebuild Depleted Fish Populations
Some of the species at risk: Red Snapper Grouper Greater Amberjack Gray Triggerfish Sharks Menhaden Sea Turtles
If we don't act now it may soon be too late. Decades of overfishing caused by liberal seasons and high catch limits, more efficient technology, and larger fishing vessels have reduced many species to unsustainable levels. Recreational and commercial fishermen blame each other as government regulators ignored scientific evidence of declining stocks.
The good news: we can reverse this trend with a few steps. The federal Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to set catch limits that take into account the protection of marine ecosystems that fish, and other sea animals depend on for survival.
How you can help right now
If you could "wave a magic wand" and repair the damage we have inflicted on nature, would you do it? Well, you can.
Make your voice heard. Tell your leaders to quit procrastinating. Act now, put the politics aside and use scientific data to set a course that will end overfishing in the Gulf.
Federal waters are managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Go to www.gulfcouncil.org Send a message to the Gulf Council that you support the Magnuson-Stevens Act and demand that it be fully implemented to "end overfishing for species undergoing overfishing in U.S. waters by 2010 and for all other species by 2011."
The quicker we act, the quicker the Gulf of Mexico will replenish itself and we will truly have Gulf Fish Forever.
Menhaden - Save the Bait
Menhaden Maddness continues in the Gulf of Mexico. Menhaden spend their short lives swimming in large schools filtering algae out of the water and converting it into their highly nutritious flesh. This provides a crucial link between the primary producers of energy --plants -- and the upper levels of the food chain, including red drum, sharks, dolphins, pelicans, and a host of other sea life that rely on menhaden. Read More...
Before 1976, the waters in the Gulf of Mexico and across the nation were fished by both domestic and foreign vessels. The FCMA "Americanized" our seas by creating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending from the shoreline out 200 miles, in which only domestic or approved foreign vessels could fish. Under this new jurisdictional scheme, the states control from their shoreline to three miles into the Gulf of Mexico, with the exceptions of the west coast of Florida and Texas, which control nine miles into the Gulf. The federal government controls the remaining waters in the EEZ. Read More...
A key threat to Gulf fisheries is the unintended taking of marine life in the process of catching a target species. Often, this "bycatch" is thrown back overboard dead or dying. While the most widely known example of bycatch in the Gulf is the shrimp fishery, bycatch exists in all Gulf fisheries leading to significant conservation and management problems. Read More...
Over 50 percent of the Gulf region's wetlands have been lost since 1790. Furthermore, the Gulf ranked as one of the worst regions in the country for coastal water pollution and toxicity in a recent Environmental Protection Agency report. Coastal wetlands are extremely important to the majority of the Gulf's fish species. Read More..
The process of taking more fish from the sea than the population is able to handle is called "overfishing." Heavy fishing pressure can disrupt predator/prey relationships, alter marine habitats, and impact the growth and mortality rates of both predator and prey species. If left unchecked, overfishing can deplete a fish population, leading to what scientists refer to as an "overfished" or depleted condition. Read More...
The Gulf Council demonstrates why significant reforms are necessary, having virtually ignored the mandates of the Sustainable Fisheries Act. The management councils must be reformed to separate the decision about how many fish can be caught from the social and economic considerations of who should be allowed to catch them. Read More...
As a critical step in ending overfishing and rebuilding sustainable fish populations in the Gulf, the GRN is calling on the Gulf Council and NMFS to develop and enact effective bycatch regulations as part of long-term ecosystem management. Read More...