Thursday, December 9, 2010

RFA-FL Files Lawsuit Against NMFS to Stop Amendment 17A Red Snapper Bottom Fishing Closure

According to RFA-FL representative Dave Heil, a lawsuit has been filed in the Federal District Court of Jacksonville, FL to overturn the red snapper closure and the bottom closure off of Northeast Florida.

"Amendment 17A which contains the red snapper closure and bottom fishing ban is in clear violation of the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act," Heil said y after filing the lawsuit in Florida.  As legal counsel for the RFA, Heil said that the controversial management plan set forth by the Council and NMFS was clearly in violation of the federal fisheries law on a number of counts:

*  Illegally delegated authority from the Secretary of Commerce for approval of management plans down to a lower level NMFS employee.

*  Failed to comply with a Congressional mandate to replace the MRFSS system by January 2009 prior to enacting any new regulations.

* Used the old and discredited SEDAR 15 instead of the new benchmark SEDAR 24

* Closes 72 additional species of snapper/grouper.

* Closed only a portion of the South Atlantic off of Northeast Florida to bottom fishing, the area was reset at the last minute so as not to include any area where South Atlantic Council reside.

* Failed to do an economic study as required and failed to take into account the economic factors of the economy which has greatly reduced fishing pressure.

In an article in the Florida Times Union, Heil called the South East Data Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process flawed, and explained that it's based on the same historical guessing game as earlier studies going back more than 60 years.

Heil said on Friday that the RFA would be amending an earlier complaint filed in federal court to overturn the regulations, explaining that NMFS was required to use the "best available science" in drafting regulations, which RFA claims is not happening, a clear violation of federal law.

To view the entire complaint officially filed in Federal District Court in Jacksonville, visit

source: RFA press release

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