[image-1]Fishery managers voted in favor of a measure to protect a spawning site off the coast of Charleston known to many as Devil’s Hole. Yes, it is an awesome name, but read on.
The popular fishing destination also called Georgetown Hole (a much less cool name) is also one of the few breeding spots for certain species of snapper and grouper in danger of being overfished. In an effort to protect these creatures, fishermen, scientists, and representatives from the Pew Charitable Trusts got together to map out protected spawning sites in federal waters off South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which manages fishing in these waters, voted 11-2 to prohibit bottom fishing in deeper waters in a 3-square-mile portion of Devil’s Hole.
Leda Dunmire with Pew Charitable Trusts says this decision by the fishery management council has been five years in the making, taking into account the wishes of both conservationists and fishermen.
“Some of the places where these species spawn, understandably, are some of the most popular fishing grounds. If you talk to folks in the fishing community, Devil’s Hole is legendary for the kind of fishing that can go on there,” says Dunmire. “There is some understandable concern when any kind of fishing real estate is ‘taken off the table,’ but these are very targeted areas. They are not completely prohibiting fishing. It’s only bottom fishing.”
The council’s decision will now go to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker for final approval. The important lesson is that the breeding grounds of Devil’s Hole are on track to flourish once more.