Commercial fishermen send representative to DC

Commercial fishermen in the Florida Keys will take part this week in a national conference, where their representative will speak about one of the most controversial fishing regulations implemented in recent years — annual catch limits.

Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, will join anglers, marine biologists, fishery managers and representatives from eight fishery management councils at a week-long conference in Washington D.C. called “Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries.”

Kelly is one of 27 experts that will speak. He plans use the conference to lobby against annual catch limits, which went into effect in 2011.

Kelly plans to push a proposal to exempt the spiny lobster fishery from annual catch limits because the spiny lobster larvae make their way to South Florida from places like Mexico and Cuba.

He proposed a “trans-boundary act exemption” for spiny lobster, because the creatures come from foreign countries.

“I’m going to address annual catch limits, and their effects on the commercial fishing industry,” Kelly said. “We want to make sure fishery management is based on sound science.”

The conference was first held in 2003 and then again in 2005. This year, the conference will focus on how the government can implement policies and rules to keep fisheries sustainable at their highest levels. The conference will address the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other adjustments to current management strategies.

The conference will provide a forum for fishermen and fishery managers to exchange information, according to event organizers.

It will be organized into three sessions that focus on improving fishery management, advancing ecosystem-based decision making, and furthering sustainable fishing.

tohara@keysnews.com

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