Mad About Cobia

cobiaFor those who don’t know, Cobia is a popular, migratory game fish valued for its fight and its meat. Also known as “Sergeant fish”, “Crab Eater”, or “Lemonfish” they are found both inshore and nearshore, inhabiting inlets, bays, and among mangroves; are frequently seen around buoys, pilings, and wrecks. Cobia migrate from the Gulf of Mexico northward following the Gulf Stream as it brings warmer waters along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Cobia are known to live up to 10 years and reach a length of 6 feet and a weight exceeding 100 pounds. The spawning season extends from late June to mid-August along the southeastern United States and from late summer to early fall in the Gulf of Mexico. Cobia eat some fishes, although the bulk of the diet is crustaceans (thus the common name “Crab Eater”). Last month (February 2016), the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) announced that beginning June 20th, the entire east coast of the United States will be shut down to Cobia fishing.

SAFMC

I wondered, “Under what authority can SAFMC shut down recreational and commercial fishing for a specific fish, and why are they picking on the Cobia?” Well, with a little research (www.safmc.net ), I learned that the SAFMC is responsible for conservation and management of America’s fisheries from three to 200 miles off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida…basically the entire length of the annual Cobia migratory pattern following the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic. The SAFMC also has federal control over Cobia (among other fish species) and has determined there are two distinct populations of Cobia – one for the waters from the Florida-Georgia state line to New York, and another for Florida and the Gulf States.

Through scientific studies of the Cobia populations, the SAFMC has also determined that the northern-East Coast population last year had been grossly overfished. This discovery has forced the SAFMC to take conservative action and impose a strict closed season on Cobia fishing beginning June 20, 2016 from the Florida/Georgia border extending north to New York. While the SAFMC has jurisdiction in federal waters, it can’t order shutdowns in state waters where 95 percent of Cobia are caught. States that don’t comply can find their fisheries to be severely restricted in the future.

Killing Cobia Fishing To Save The Fish

fight cobia closureEconomically, this closure will prove devastating to many aspects of the Cobia fishing marketplace. From lost sales of bait, tackle, ice, fuel, boat sales and service, fishing charters and even the hospitality industry, the effects will translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue all along the Atlantic coast. Worse, it will directly affect the income of many individuals who depend on a short window of opportunity to make their livings.

Legal fees are being raised for a potential lawsuit against the SAFMC that, according to Federal law, must be filed by April 9. “Defense Fund to Fight Cobia Closure”, a GoFundMe account established by Mid-Atlantic Fishermen United has been set up to cover the legal fees. Sadly, only about $1,600 of the estimated needed funds of more than $50,000 have been raised so far. Mid-Atlantic Fishermen United was organized to represent all affected recreational and charter fishermen and protect their respective rights. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/4wtt57gs to learn more about Mid-Atlantic Fishermen United’s fight for the right to continue fishing for Cobia.

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Posted in: Pro Staff Blog
gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been an active duty member for seven years and counting, traveling the world, and defending my country! My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman
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