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JONES LETTER TO SECRETARY LOCKE
Dear Secretary Locke:
I am writing to strongly encourage you to approve the State of North Carolina’s request for emergency action to reopen the blueline tilefish and snowy grouper fisheries north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. These two fisheries were effectively shut down when, in December, 2010, you approved Amendment 17B to the South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Plan. That amendment closed the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from 240’ depth to the end of the EEZ at 200 miles offshore to protect two species of fish – speckled hind and warsaw grouper – for which there are no valid stock assessments.
As the State’s request made clear, emergency action is justified by new scientific information made available to the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council last month. This data was produced by National Marine Fisheries Service scientist, Dr. Nick Farmer. It confirms what the State of North Carolina suggested was the case prior to approval of Amendment 17B, namely that there are virtually no interactions north of Cape Hatteras between blueline tilefish or snowy grouper and speckled hind or warsaw grouper.
Emergency action is necessary to prevent devastating economic impacts on fishermen who have depended on access to blueline tilefish and snowy grouper. According to the state of North Carolina, the economic loss would be over $1 million, with each fishery participant losing over $20,000. Losses of this magnitude during these already treacherous economic times are unacceptable.
On behalf of North Carolina fishermen, I urge you to immediately take action on this emergency request. Dr. Farmer’s newly available science demonstrates that reopening the blueline tilefish and snowy grouper fisheries will not affect speckled hind and warsaw grouper, and doing so will help save the economic livelihoods of many fishermen. Thank you for your consideration of this request. I look forward to your response.