Thousands of commercial and recreational fishermen are headed to St. Petersburg, the Southeast Regional Headquarters of the National Marine Fisheries Service, for the first ever “Fishing Matters to Me” rally which kicks off at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.
Conservative estimates put the number of licensed saltwater anglers who live, work and fish within 100 miles of the rally at more than 1 million. The recent emergency closure of the Gulf of Mexico’s grouper fishery has prompted the fishermen to take to the street in protest.
Organizers of the protest say the grouper shutdown, and a similar measure governing red snapper in the South Atlantic, has cost the fragile economies of the Southeast an estimated $5 billion in lost revenue. Recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, two groups once at odds over the same stocks, have come together to ask for fundamental changes to the system that manages the nation’s fisheries.
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