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Fishing Notes Florida March 2007

Circle hook rule takes effect in billfish tourneys

In November the IGFA hosted a meeting of billfish tournament directors and officials of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to discuss a new rule beginning in 2007 affecting offshore tournaments in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico on the use of circle hooks.

Tournament directors and other interested parties were invited by the NMFS to the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum to hear an explanation of the new rule. According to the new rule, which began Jan. 1, anglers fishing from Highly Migratory Species permitted vessels (also a requirement) in Atlantic billfish tournaments “must deploy only non-offset circle hooks when using natural bait or natural bait/artificial lure combinations and may not deploy a J-hook or an offset circle hook in combination with natural bait or a natural bait/artificial lure combination.”

Regulations continue to allow for the use of J-hooks with artificial lures.

Much of the discussion focused on a provision within the rule that allows for Exempted Fishing Permits to be issued, which would permit J-hooks to be used with natural bait as part of a scientific study. This provision was a direct result of input and concerns received from some tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region.

The use of EFPs are not designed to simply allow for a way to fish outside of the regulations, but to provide a mechanism by which meaningful research could be conducted that would otherwise be prohibited by a given rule. There are many requirements associated with the use of EFPs and by the end of the discussion it was the general consensus that although allowed they would most likely be too cumbersome to implement in a tournament setting.

“It’s our desire to help improve communication and understanding between the recreational fishing community and fisheries managers,” says IGFA president Rob Kramer. “Most of the major billfish tournaments from the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico had representation at the meeting and were able to express their concerns and questions with regards to the new rule.”

For information on this rule, visit .

White marlin could earn endangered status

The white marlin could be protected under the federal Endangered Species Act if environmentalists have their way. Federal officials will conduct a formal review to consider putting the sport fish on the Endangered Species list.

The review, announced in the Federal Register by the National Marine Fisheries Service, comes pursuant to a court-approved settlement agreement resolving a lawsuit filed by two conservation organizations.

A study published in Nature in 2003 documented the decline of large predatory fish by 90 percent over the world’s oceans. Of all these species, the white marlin is perhaps the closest to actual extinction, and continues to be caught at levels that will cause continuing declines, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The biggest threat to the species reportedly comes from longline fishing.

In January 2004 the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, challenging the agency’s rejection of a petition to protect the white marlin under the Endangered Species Act. In October 2005 a federal judge approved a settlement requiring the Fisheries Service to revisit whether the white marlin warrants the protection.

However, a management plan approved by the Fisheries Service in October 2006 allows longline fishing to continue in important white marlin spawning habitat.

“The marlin is now on a course where only Endangered Species Act protection can stop its decline,” says said Brendan Cummings, ocean program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.

Top honors for team MarineMax

When local-rod-and reel shop owner and fishing talk radio show host Dean-O Hicks was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the Fort Myers fishing community sprang into action. With the help of the Kiwanis and Lions clubs, the community organized the unique We Love You, Man fishing tournament to raise funds to help Hicks and his family.

Team members from MarineMax of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers formed a team to fish the tournament. With the help of a new Laguna B-210, the team captured first place in the adult division and donated all winnings, a total of more than $1,600, back to the charity.

“Dean-O Hicks has been a tremendous supporter of not only the Southwest Florida fishing community, but of the greater Fort Myers community as a whole, and we consider it an honor to be able to show our support for him and his family at this difficult time,” says Ed Foley, parts manager of MarineMax of Southwest Florida.

Foley, together with his 12-year-old son, Trevor, and fellow MarineMax team member Jeff Lancaster, fished off of a MarineMax Laguna B-210, joining about 35 other teams of children and adults at Mullock Creed Marina in San Carlos Park for the tournament. Despite windy conditions and choppy seas, the team managed to reel in one Snook and two Redfish with an aggregate weight of 13.1 pounds, enough to secure a first place finish in the adult division.

At the awards ceremony, Team MarineMax was awarded a 6-foot treasure chest filled with nearly $4,000 worth of donated nautical gear. The team immediately donated the chest back to the charity, and its contents were auctioned off, earning $1,650 for the cause.

Calls for guidelines to aquaculture development

Congress should enact legislation to ensure that strong environmental standards are in place to regulate the siting and conduct of offshore marine aquaculture, according to an independent panel of leaders from scientific, policymaking, business, and conservation institutions.

At the same time, the Marine Aquaculture Task Force suggests that the federal government should provide funding and incentives for research, development, and deployment of technologies, and techniques for sustainable marine aquaculture.

Aquaculture is the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants.

The task force — organized by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Lenfest Foundation — was charged with examining the risks and benefits of marine aquaculture and developing a set of national policy recommendations to guide future development of our oceans.

Members of the panel have been meeting since the summer of 2005, and they presented their findings Jan. 8.

“There is a growing need for seafood to feed a hungry world, but the world’s fisheries can no longer meet the demand,” says task force chairman Rear Adm. (ret.) Richard F. Pittenger, former WHOI vice president for Marine Facilities and Operations and a former Oceanographer of the Navy. “Half of our seafood comes from aquaculture, and that share is only going to grow. The federal government has proposed a five-fold increase in U.S. aquaculture production, and while we certainly agree with an increase, we believe it must be done in an environmentally responsible way.”

The task force recommends that Congress assign a leading role to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for planning and regulating the industry.

Learn more about the Marine Aquaculture Task Force by visiting .

Edmiston art collection available for purchase

The Jim Edmiston Art Collection is now available for purchase by the piece from the IGFA Web site. The collection of 18 rare pieces of original artwork and bronze sculptures was donated to IGFA by longtime IGFA representative Jim Edmiston prior to his death in April.

“This collection represents the respect man has for the strength, beauty and sheer will of fish,” says Jordyan Edmiston, the artist’s daughter, “and it was very important that the sale of these pieces benefit the IGFA.”

The collection features original works from Guy Harvey, Be Forbes, Kent Ullberg, Al Barnes and Russ Smiley. The collection is available for purchase online and in the IGFA’s gift shop at the Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum.

To view the collection go to