Chair’s Column: Spring 2020

[NEWSLETTER: Spring 2020]

 

I hope this finds you safe and healthy as we navigate the uncharted seas brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  Daily life has been completely altered for all of us.  I will be blunt.  This virus has levied a huge economic toll on those whose livelihoods are dependent upon fishing: commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and retailers, seafood processors, charter captains and crew, and others.  The sanctions and restrictions put in place to protect the health and lives of our nation’s citizens have unfortunately caused the wholesale market for fresh seafood to shrink, chartered fishing trips to be cancelled, and access to the resource to be lost in areas where boat ramps or marinas are shuttered.  The Council regularly acknowledges the way the 2008 economic crisis reshaped our commercial, charter, and recreational fisheries. The same will be true for the 2020 pandemic.

 

While businesses have been impacted, many people have turned to recreational fishing as a way to connect with nature and escape from the indoors while practicing social distancing.  They are choosing to use this time to reconnect with their favorite pastimes or learn new hobbies such as fishing.  I take heart that the opportunity to fish is a bright spot for many during these uncertain times.

 

Of course, not every day is perfect for getting out on the water. On those days you just can’t fish, perhaps you’ll help us improve the science that informs our management and decision-making.  Our new FISHstory project will go live in May, and we need citizen scientists, like you, to make this project a success.

 

If you haven’t heard, FISHstory will use photos of the Daytona Beach headboat fleet taken from the 1940s through the 1970s to tap into information on South Atlantic fisheries in the years prior to dedicated catch monitoring programs.  The set of 1,300 photos, provided by retired commercial and recreational fishing captain Rusty Hudson, is a time capsule of both fishing and family history.  From the comfort and safety of their homes, citizen scientists can identify and count fish in the photos to provide data on historic catches.  Not a fish expert?  Not a problem!  Council staff has created specific training materials to help you make your best educated guess.  To learn more, visit: https://safmc.net/safmc-fishstory/.

 

Though “normal life” is on hold, the Council continues our important work of conserving and managing the federal fisheries of the South Atlantic.  If there is something you think we can help you with, please contact the Council office at (843) 571-4366 or reach out to your Council representatives. Contact information is available at: https://safmc.net/council-members/.

 

Stay well,

 

Jessica

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