From the Executive Director's Desk
Marine Protected Areas, Spawning Special Management Zones, and Coral Protected Areas
How/When will the Council/fishermen get some credit for protection?
When the idea of Marine Protected Areas or MPAs first surfaced many years ago, the suggestion from scientists was to "close a certain percentage of the area and obtain an equivalent percentage towards Spawning Potential Ratio or SPR". SPR was the way stock status was measured back in the day and has now been replaced with stock biomass. The specific definitions of these terms are not important. What's important is the original concept of protecting some area and obtaining an equivalent credit" towards management.
The Council has worked with fishermen, advisory panels, scientists, and NOAA Fisheries to identify and protect a large amount of bottom habitat from fishing for species in the snapper grouper fishery management plan. Articles in this issue of the newsletter talk about efforts to develop a comprehensive System Management Plan (SMP) to monitor and document the effects of our closed areas.
The next step is to develop a working paper for the SEDAR stock assessment process that will make the case for some "credit" towards ending overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks. Information is becoming available that documents improvements in the numbers/size of fish within closed areas established by the Council and NOAA Fisheries. We'll take a closer look at research and monitoring efforts within the Council's managed areas in the next issue of the newsletter. It is time that the Council and fishermen receive some return on their investment from closed areas.
The Council's new System Management Plan Workgroup will help guide this effort. Meeting information is available from the Council's website, and workgroup meetings are available via webinar as they occur. Stay tuned as the Council works through this process and attend meetings to hear about progress.
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