Grouper Ban Threatens Florida Fishing Industry

From the Miami Herald:
On Jan. 1, a new four-month ban on grouper fishing goes into effect to protect the species during its primary spawning season. Fishery managers and ocean conservancy groups say several types of grouper have been overfished for decades and need protection.

Unfortunately for many in the Keys, the ban also coincides with the island chain's peak tourist season. Charter boat captains, as well as commercial fishermen, say the regulations are "Draconian'" and economically devastating.

"It's a bitter choice between sustaining the fishery or sustaining someone's livelihood,'' said Andy McDonald, the wholesale manager at the Islamorada Fish Co. "But if you don't sustain the fishery, there will be no livelihood.''

"This couldn't come at a worse time,'' said Andy Griffiths, who owns a three-boat charter operation near Key West. "My business already is off 80 percent because of the economy.''