Policy News

Southeast U.S. Fishery Managers Propose Protecting Spawning Zones

Southeast U.S. fishery managers are considering a proposal to protect certain areas where fish live and spawn. The proposed spawning special management zones (SMZs) would target small, important areas on the edge of the continental shelf. Scientists and fishermen are working together to identify these unique sites where deep- water snappers and groupers are known to gather to reproduce off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Florida.

If approved, the zones would prohibit deep-water fishing in the spawning areas, although fishing at the surface probably would still be permitted. These zones would complement other habitat protections along the Southeast coast that also are designed to safeguard fish and corals to maintain healthy ocean ecosystems. Providing undisturbed areas for fish to spawn could aid in the recovery of depleted species such as red snapper, warsaw grouper, and speckled hind, which need more time than some other fish to reach their best spawning years.

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