Grouper Fishing Ban

Federal regulators have given preliminary approval to a one-month ban on grouper fishing in Gulf waters, despite protests from dozens of fishermen.

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council has approved the ban for all grouper from February 15 to March 15 after initially considering limiting the ban to only red grouper.

The recreational fishermen had told the council that the ban wouldn't bolster the red grouper population in the Gulf.

Council members say the ban isn't likely to take effect until 2007 because of the lengthy regulatory process.

Federal regulators fear grouper are being over fished. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that recreational fishermen exceeded the red grouper quota in 2004 by 138 percent.

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