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Project FishSmart is the model for common-sense fisheries management

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – In 2008, a diverse group of anglers, for-hire fishing boat operators, commercial fishermen, environmental-organization representatives, marine biologists, tackle shop owners and fishing tournament organizers met under the umbrella of FishSmart to develop a new way to approach fisheries management. The American Sportfishing Association was a member of the original steering group.
Funded through a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and organized by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, or UMCES, the project’s purpose was to develop a process by which a diverse group of stakeholders could develop a consensus position on fishery management recommendations for a current issue.
The pilot project focused specifically on the South Atlantic king mackerel fishery because of its recreational and commercial importance. Maintaining long-term access to the fishery and preventing overfishing were the common goals held by all the groups involved.
Over an eight-month period, the stakeholders used a model developed in collaboration with UMCES scientists to weigh how alternative management regulations would impact the fishery. Using this information, the workgroup recommended three different options to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council for its consideration. All three options will ensure the long-term viability of the fishery by implementing reasonable bag limits, while preserving a year-round fishery and preventing overfishing. The Council then voted to include the three management recommendations in its public scoping document.
“Project FishSmart is an example of how divergent viewpoints can come together to make common-sense fishery management recommendations,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “The workgroup members reached consensus on a forward-looking assessment, the goal of which was to prevent the Atlantic King Mackerel from being overfished. The focus wasn’t just on today and the restrictions anglers would face, but the long-term health of both the stock and a quality fishing experience.”
FishSmart program leader and UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory researcher Thomas Miller said, “The project provided us the opportunity to illustrate the science behind the models and to see the implications of management decisions. This ‘interactive’ experience led to a substantial increase in understanding, as well as ownership, on the part of everyone involved.”
The American Sportfishing Association is the sport-fishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sport-fishing community. For more information on ASA visit www.asafishing.org.
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