Come summer, 46 Square miles of the Dry Tortugas national management area will be off limits to all fishing. The Governor and State Cabinet today approved a resolution, telling the national Park Service to come back in three years with a study on whether the closure has increased fish stocks of grouper and snapper. Park Superintendent David Kimball thinks the closure balances fishing and long term goals.
“Our votes are for a restored fishery, resources for future generations, but the key is at this park to provide a balance of protection and visitor enjoyment and we think we can hit the target at this point.”
Another 150 square miles of the reserve is already off limits to fishing. The Coastal Conservation Association’s Ted Forsgren rgued before the Cabinet that catch and release fishing should have been allowed. <>
Banning all fishing whatsoever including catch and release fishing ought to be the last resort, not the first measure. What you see from all the fishery studies in the park, you see the large increases in snapper and grouper and so forth, while they allow recreational fishing, so we don’t see any reason to limit all types of recreational fishing at this park to do that.
The Park Service plans an educational campaign before actually closing the area to fishing. It is hoped the closure will allow fish to grow larger, producing more eggs and improving fish stocks. The Agreement to close the area is for five years before it must be renewed by the Cabinet.