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Third party will review credibility of fish-counting in South

| Apr 11, 2013 | Environmental Law |

Many people’s livings depend on the environment. The fishing industry, for example, is directly impacted when something shakes up the environment. The industry can also be impacted by government regulations and processes.

Businesses that make a living off of fishing from the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic are watching a matter unfold regarding how the government sets catch limits within the fishing industry. There’s debate over the accuracy of fish-counting and whether it needlessly limits the fishing industry’s numbers.

The federal government generally counts species of fish within certain fishing areas and, based on their counts, determines what a healthy catch limit is to set within the fishing industry. Basically, if they were able to count a robust number of red snapper, then the government would set a pretty liberal limit on what fisherman can catch. If the government claims it found a low number of red snapper, the fishing industry would be allowed to catch and keep fewer of that species.

There are economic and environmental factors to this matter. The fishing industry is crucial to the economy of states within the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. Fishing businesses want to be sure that the government’s fish-counting isn’t haphazardly placing limits on the industry and costing the economy for no good reason.

There can be a good reason, however, for setting catch limits. It’s an environmental reason. The overfishing of species can have a sweeping impact on the ecosystem within a given area. If one species’ numbers are off-balance, an entirely different species’ population can be impacted.

Because the economic and environmental costs to communities can be so greatly impacted by catch limits, the fish-counting process must be done responsibly and accurately. The Government Accountability Office is stepping in to analyze how fish-counting is done and to determine whether improvements must be made.

Source: USA Today, “GAO will study government’s fish-counting methods,” Ledyard King, April 2, 2013

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