Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida Congressional Delegation, issued the following statement regarding the possibility of multiple fisheries facing closure. The Congresswoman has interceded in past occasions with the Department of Commerce that regulates the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and intends to do the same this time around.
"I am extremely concerned about the proposed annual fishing limits for grouper and snapper. Also troubling is the proposed closing of large fishing areas that would severely undercut the economic lifeline of countless recreational and commercial fishermen in the Florida Keys and throughout South Florida.
At a time of very difficult economic conditions, I just don't see any sense in making the lives of these fishermen all the more complicated by placing such limits on grouper and snapper fishing. I have contacted the Secretary of Commerce on prior occasions and was able then to obtain a reprieve on the fishing limits. I plan to do the same this time as well and have asked other members of the Florida Congressional Delegation to join me in this important endeavor. I will also request from the Secretary of Commerce that he hold off on considering an interim rule for Snapper, until the fishery council has a chance to go through its public process, which it is now doing.
Government should protect the environment, but not when it comes on the backs of our commercial fishermen who are struggling now more than ever. It is not just and it is not the proper course to take. If all parties involved join forces, then we can strike a balance between protecting our fisheries and the economic livelihood of thousands of commercial fishermen throughout the State. We must do better."