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February 15, 2008

Feb. 27 meeting in Charleston to focus on coastal sharks

A meeting to discuss a comprehensive Fishery Management Pan for Atlantic coastal sharks will be held in Charleston at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Marine Resources Division Auditorium.

The draft Fishery Management Plan addresses the management of 39 shark species. It proposes management measures for state recreational and commercial shark fisheries, including permitted species, regions, seasons, quotas, possession limits, size limits, protection of nursing and pupping grounds, authorized gear, dealer reporting, research, display, finning and bycatch reduction.
           
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) biologists have been monitoring shark populations in the state’s estuaries and nearshore waters since 1994. Bryan Frazier, DNR fisheries biologist said, "Data that is collected from our field monitoring throughout the coastal region is used in stock assessments to assist with informed decisions on the state and federal level." The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Fishery Management Plan is a collaborative effort between the 15 Atlantic coast states to ensure that imperiled shark population stocks have protection in the estuaries and nearshore waters. These areas serve as the shark fishery’s primary and secondary nursery grounds. 
           
Coordinated state management is a vital step towards establishing healthy self-sustaining populations of Atlantic coastal sharks. Many species have been in a depleted state and are vulnerable to collapse if fishing pressure continues as it has in recent years. Most of these sharks utilize state water coastal estuaries and bays as pupping grounds and nurseries. The draft Fishery Management Plan proposes to protect depleted shark stocks while they are in these areas during the most vulnerable stages of their life cycles.
           
Another goal of draft Fishery Management Plan is to establish complementary state and federal shark management. Currently some states mirror federal regulations for Atlantic sharks while other states have no management (other than spiny dogfish) or have regulations inconsistent with the federal Fishery Management Plan. Coordinating management between state and federal waters will close loopholes between jurisdictions and simplify regulations for law enforcement officials.
Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the draft Fishery Management Plan, either by attending public hearings or providing written comments. Copies of the draft Fishery Management Plan can be obtained via the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Webs site under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (202) 289-6400.

Public comment will be accepted until 5 p.m. on March 28 and should be forwarded to Chris Vonderweidt, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, 1444 Eye Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 289-6051 (fax) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Sharks). For more information, contact Chris Vonderweidt at (202) 289-6400 or cvonderweidt@asmfc.org.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.


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