Judge Overturns Ban on Grouper in Gulf of Mexico
TAMPA, Fla. A two-month ban on recreational grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico that was scheduled to begin Tuesday has been overturned.
U.S. District Judge John E. Steele ruled Monday that federal officials went too far when they outlawed all grouper fishing to protect one species, the red grouper.
The restrictions had established a closed season for grouper in November and December in federal waters that start 10 miles offshore and reduced the daily bag limit of the fish from two to one. This came after data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that recreational fisherman exceeded the red grouper quota in 2004 by 138 percent.
"This is a big day for the state of Florida and all saltwater anglers," said Ted Forsgren, director of the Florida Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, which joined the lawsuit. "We see this ruling as a victory."
The decision means that many species of grouper can be caught in federal waters, beyond 9 miles offshore in the Gulf. Red grouper remains off limits in those waters through December.
Source: Associated Press