Florida Snook Fishing Ban Extended Another Year

From this story in the Miami Herald:
_State wildlife regulators Thursday extended a ban on snook fishing along the state's Gulf coast for another year, hoping that will give the species enough time to rebound from last winter's cold snap that killed thousands of the fish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 7-0 to extend the ban on Gulf coast snook fishing until next Sept. 1. On the Atlantic coast, commissioners voted to end the emergency closure this Sept. 17 and allow snook to be caught through Dec. 15. But commissioners voted to forgo the spring Atlantic snook season because that's when the fish spawn.

__"I would rather err more to the conservative side when it comes to managing the resource,'' said Commissioner Kenneth W. Wright, adding that he wants Floridians to be able to catch snook for years to come. Biologists told the commissioners that tens of thousands of the climate-sensitive sport fish likely died in January when overnight temperatures hovered around freezing for about two weeks, dropping water temperatures into the 50s in the snook's habitat. They are found in the Gulf and Atlantic and in inlets south of Daytona and Holmes beaches.

Christopher Lyon, an attorney for an Everglades-area outdoor marina and boat ramp owner, said the continued restriction would hurt his client's business. Kenneth Brown owns Outdoor Resorts of America in Chokoloskee, near the park. Lyon said Brown has seen a 75 percent drop in business because of the snook closures. ``The prolonged closure has dramatically affected the local economy, which relies on sport fishing,'' he said.

But others supported the restrictions. Everglades National Park officials sent a letter to the state, saying the park's snook were hard hit by the cold snap and needed more time to recover_