Designation of an area as a SMZ allows for fishing gear restrictions to prevent overexploitation of fishery resources. Such a designation promotes orderly use of the fishery resources on and around the artificial reefs, reduces potential user group conflicts, and maintains the intended socioeconomic benefits of the artificial reefs. Many of these areas have been established through cooperation with fishing organizations and local governments and serve as a means to promote localized conservation and positive fishing experiences.
Further, the South Atlantic Council has designated SMZs as Essential Fish Habitat – Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (EFH-HAPC). A total of 85 SMZs have been designated off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Visit www.ecfr.gov for details.
(Photo Credit: FWC – Keith Mille)