Red Grouper and Shrimping Both Making the News

Charter fishing boat captains are worried one of their most popular catches may be off limits this fall.

Federal regulators say that the red grouper population in the Gulf of Mexico is getting dangerously low. They're considering a recreational fishing ban on red grouper for four months starting in September.

Charter boat operators say the ban is unnecessary and will hurt their business.

Capt. Tom Rice, a local charter captain, says it’s a problem.

"You know, the majority of the time we catch a good mess of fish. The people are happy with that, but the more we keep whittling away at that the less these people are going to want to come down and go fishing."

The current grouper limit is two fish per person each day. There was a ban on grouper fishing last year, but only commercial fishermen were affected.

Meanwhile, commercial shrimpers are getting behind a proposal to cap the number offshore shrimp licenses. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is scheduled to vote on the cap in May.

Many commercial shrimpers are being forced into early retirement by part-time shrimpers trawling in federal waters.

Supporters say fewer boats would mean larger catches and more profits for shrimpers licensed to shrimp federal waters.

State waters would remain open to anyone.

The shrimp industry has been hurt recently by rising fuel costs, cheap imports and overcrowded waters.

New tariffs on foreign shrimp may help but some local shrimpers say the tariffs don't help with their small catches


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