The Southeast United States' vibrant fishing populations could suffer if we don't prevent overfishing, the removal of fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.
Right now, federal fisheries managers are considering a proactive plan that would prevent overfishing and let healthy populations of fish like some species of snapper and grouper thrive. But the management councils are under pressure to delay or weaken the plan -- and we can't let that happen.
This plan would set limits on the number of fish that can be caught each year, protecting fish populations before they can plummet to critically low levels. It would also avoid tougher restrictions in the future by managing fishing populations wisely now.
Weakening this plan could mean unsustainably low levels of fish, affecting the ocean ecosystem and the Southeast's economy. Tell the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils to approve this critical plan.
I'm writing to urge you to adopt measures to prevent overfishing in southeastern U.S. waters at your upcoming June meeting in Key West, FL.
[Your comments will be inserted here.]
Our coastal waters are a unique ecosystem that attracts divers, anglers and tourists from around the world eager to enjoy healthy waters and abundant fish populations. Chronic overfishing threatens ecosystem health and the rich fishing heritage and valuable economic output of our region's coastal communities.
Right now you have a chance to prevent overfishing on relatively healthy stocks and restore vibrant fisheries by setting science-based annual catch limits for all species under your authority. I feel it's critically important to protect fish populations before they suffer declines, as has happened to roughly a dozen species of snapper and grouper in the southeast region. Your preventative plan should avoid tougher, more painful restrictions in the future by managing fish populations wisely now.
Thank you for your commitment to preserving our coastal treasures: healthy fish populations, and abundance of fresh, local seafood and ample opportunities to go fishing for future generations. Science-based catch limits today will yield healthier fisheries tomorrow.
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