For Immediate Release
June 18, 2020
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on a framework action that considers modifying surface trolling provisions and possession allowances in the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The Council recommends prohibiting all fishing year-round in both Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps. The Council also recommends prohibiting the possession of any Gulf reef fish species year-round, except for vessels with a vessel monitoring system (VMS) and a valid commercial reef fish permit that are in transit, with all fishing gear stowed.
Fishing activity is limited in Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps to protect gag spawning aggregations. Currently, no bottom fishing is allowed in those areas, but surface trolling is permitted from May 1 – October 31. It is difficult to enforce the no-bottom-fishing regulation when surface trolling is allowed, and the Council heard concerns that illegal recreational bottom fishing is regularly occurring in the areas.
Prohibiting fishing and possession of reef fish within Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Protected Areas is expected to reduce fishing activity and make law enforcement easier. The Council will submit these proposed changes to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.