Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thank you Mexico Beach!

The City of Mexico Beach is helping with the effort by publishing the letter below on the back of every water bill this month.

Thank you Mayor and Council!

Dear Citizens,

In January 2007, President Bush signed into law the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery and Conservation and Management Act. Among many new requirements, the act established new regulatory mandates based on a required timeline. Congress mandated that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement an improved Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey by January 2009; they also mandated that the NMFS stop over fishing of all fish species undergoing over fishing by 2010 and all other fisheries undergoing over fishing by 2011.

The NMFS has failed to comply with the mandate for an improved MRFSS data system by January 2009 and still does not have an improved recreational data system. However, the NMFS is working to comply with the mandate for stopping overfishing of all fish species by 2010—without an improved data system. The unintended impacts of the Congressional mandates has caused severe economic and social harm to small family fishing businesses, anglers, support businesses, local fishing communities, and the coastal states. In the Gulf of Mexico, the “Total Allowable Catch” of red snapper has been reduced from 9.12 million pounds to 5 million pounds, the recreational bag limit reduced from 4 fish to 2 fish, and the recreational red snapper fishing season reduced from 6 months to 30 days or less for 2010. The greater amberjack recreational fishery was closed on October 23rd; the commercial fishery was closed on November 6th. The recreational gag grouper fishery now has a two month closure and the recreational bag limit reduced from 5 fish to 2 fish.

Obviously, this is going to devastate the City of Mexico Beach and our local economy. Mexico Beach has always been the quant, little fishing village on the Forgotten Coast to which all others are compared. Our canal system with its two (soon to be three) boat ramps allowing direct access to the Gulf, our fishing pier, and open beach have all attributed to this reputation; this now appears about to change. More importantly, the adoption of these restrictions will destroy the businesses which are directly and indirectly involved in the fishing industry. Our local charter boat businesses(Charisma Charters, Miss Mary Charters, and Bottom Line Charters) and marina (Marquardt’s Marina) have all been suffering due to the current economy—adopting of these mandates may very well force them out of business. If these companies are negatively affected, a ripple effect will occur throughout the other businesses which thrive because of the fishermen and their friends and families who do business in Mexico Beach while here but not fishing.

This is why we need your help. Please contact your State representatives (even if you don’t live in Florida) and express your concern with these overly restrictive fishing regulations which are not based on scientific data or surveys. Also, please inform them of your strong support for the MICA bill, HB 1584 (Pallone Bill), and S-1255 (Schumer Bill) with the following amendment included:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the reef fish fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shall not be required to be rebuilt, and over-fishing ended, by a specific date provided that the annual level of fishing does not exceed the net reproduction rate for that fishery such that the fishery is rebuilding each year. If the objective set forth in this section is not met for any of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic reef fish fisheries in one year, the Secretary of Commerce shall adjust the fishing rate in that specific fishery in subsequent years to compensate for any overage.”

If you are interested in remaining informed on this issue, the following website has been created for that purpose: . Thank you in advance for your support regarding this issue!

Mexico Beach

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mayor Cathey! The water bill was an excellent way to raise awareness. We're still new and small, but is doing it's part to keep it's readers up to date with the latest info.

    Keep up the good fight!