April 26, 2017 — Two years ago, fisheries authorities threw the brakes on catching cobia, a popular game fish and a favorite of recreational fishermen from Florida to Maryland.
Suddenly, anglers could catch fewer fish – and sometimes none at all.
But the reasons for the new rules, it turned out, were flawed.
Now some congressmen hope to enact a new law changing the way saltwater fish stocks are managed. With better use of data, they say, will come better decisions.
“It’s a fairly archaic system,” said Rob Wittman, R-Va., one of the bill’s sponsors. “And there’s a lot of consternation about the lack of good data being used to make decisions that affect watermen.”
Current law calls for rebuilding fish stocks and preventing overfishing. But of the 538 species managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is data for only 180. And the congressmen contend the information is either wrong or outdated.
NOAA does not comment on proposed legislation, according to John Ewald, the agency’s public affairs officer for fisheries.
He pointed to a National Academy of Sciences study that reported NOAA has made “impressive progress” in its data-collection efforts.