If there is a way to screw up a fishery the government will surely find a way to do it. I am almost convinced that they do it on purpose. Do we need government controls on our fisheries? Absolutely, without government controls people would go out and kill everything as quickly as possible but the government needs to do a much better job to protect our resources! We had a situation a few years back where NOAA closed down red snapper, bee liners and dramatically cut the sea bass limits in federal waters for the North Atlantic Fisheries Region. Believe me I am all for tighter restrictions when it comes to fishing but this decision was 100% political and had nothing to do with sound fisheries management practices. Moreover, of all of the fisheries that needed to be shut down these would have been last on the list as they were all very healthy at the time. In fact, we have gotten to the point now with red snapper that it is difficult to catch anything else because they have taken over! What really concerns me though is the trickle down effect that these policies made on other state fisheries. All of this took place at around the same time as the increase in gas prices which only compounded the fact that nobody was going to spend $4.00 per gallon to run out 40 miles just to release most of the fish. With so many guys switching from offshore to inshore fishing (and these are guys that know how to fish and generally go out to kill) with these new regulation we have seen dramatic decreases in the numbers of our inshore fish populations. As far as our state SCDNR fisheries managers; they have made absolutely no changes in bag or catch limits even though the fisheries are steadily declining and it doesn’t look as though there will be changes coming anytime soon. I guess that they are planning to allow the rest of our fisheries dwindle down to nothing just like the cobia before they decide to take action! Stay tuned for next month as we will be will be discussing how lack of law enforcement and poaching has impacted our fisheries.