I’d like to clear up some confusion in the swordfishing community on the ability for anglers to continue to deep drop for the prize sport fish. I have been told by a few Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers that new regulations approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) prohibit deep dropping – or using mechanical rods that reach depths of hundreds of feet – for swordfish, effective last month. Actually, that’s not true.
The SAFMC did pass new rules designed to protect our deep-water coral, as well as diminishing populations of various species of groupers, snappers and other bottom-feeders. The rules pertain to fishing in water deeper than 240 feet, from the Florida Keys to North Carolina. This ruling does affect snapper and grouper, but it does not affect deep dropping for swordfish in these regions. I have had that personally confirmed by officials with SAFMC, which does not even have jurisdiction to pass rules affecting swordfish. For a full outline of the regulations, click here: http://www.safmc.net.
Let’s get one thing straight, though. If you believe that the way you’re fishing could do harm to our deep-water coral, please think of our environment first. As exciting as pulling up a double-marker can be, it’s not worth doing lasting damage to our fishing grounds.
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