Fishery Management executive gives bleak outlook for industry - - The News for South Mississippi

Fishery Management executive gives bleak outlook for industry

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has a group that overseas the fishery management in the Gulf concerned about the fishery based economy of our region. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Executive Director Stephen Bortone testified to that at a congressional hearing on the rig explosion and leak this week.

Bortone told lawmakers, "there are a number of short-term (i.e., days, weeks, and months) effects that are likely to cause harm to several fisheries and the ecosystem in which they occur... During the spring and early summer months, many commercially and recreationally important reef-associated fish species, such as the groupers and red snapper, spawn in the area currently subjected to the oil release."

He expressed concern over how the oil, "affects the life and condition of the early life stages of these and other species" including the food upon which they depend.

Bortone testified, "dispersants can make the oil easier to ingest as the oil is too often formed into small, bite-sized particles."

Bortone also testified, more significant are the long-term effects on fishing and fishing related activities when a continued closure of a significant part of the Gulf of Mexico occurs. He said that charter boat captains suffer not only immediate cancellations of reservations, but from "a bad decade as that is the length of time it may take for public confidence to return."

And he testified for commercial fishermen the long-term impact because of the impact on "eggs and larvae of commercially important fish species, it is reasonable to assume that more restrictive management measures will have to be implemented to replenish those resources.

He added, "rebuilding fish stocks is painstakingly slow. This oil release event is likely to curtail the pace established for fish stocks currently undergoing rebuilding."

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