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TimestampEnter Your Full NameEmail addressCity, State, Zip CodeCheck all that applyComments
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8/18/2020 8:34:01Bob Zalesbobzales2@gmail.com
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
DolphinsAll,
This is being sent on behalf of the Gulf members of NACO and the Commercial Grouper Long Liners of SOFA.

You have heard from fishermen from all sectors and all states about the ever increasing problem with interactions by dolphins with boaters and fishermen. We are not only seriously concerned about the impacts these animals are having on fishing we are greatly concerned about the increasing harm to the animals by these interactions. These animals are being hooked, wrapped in fishing line, struck by vessels, and as some have seen on news reports some are being speared and shot. This harm to the animals is not acceptable nor is the damage they are causing to fishermen. We have pleaded with you, NMFS, the MMAC, and other federal government officials to provide help. We are seeking ways to deter these animals from fishermen and boaters in a way that provides no harm to the animal. Our hope is to be able to find some way to harmlessly deter them so they are better protected as well. NMFS suggestions to run away from them, leave the area, does not work. The use of pingers may work for a small period but the animals soon learn a pinger is harmless so it has no impact. Unless your vessel is able to run at speeds greater than 15 to 18 knots these animals simply follow the vessel. In many cases even when you run several miles to try and get away from them another pod is usually waiting for the vessel.

These animals are smart and know when a vessel is fishing. Sometimes they just wait and watch and allow you to keep a fish or two then they go after what you hook. In some cases they simply grab your fish, pull against you, and if you free spool your reel they will drop the fish but when you begin to reel the fish in they grab it again. Some will continue to do this as long as the angler is willing to play. In most cases when they are done playing they will bite the fish off behind the head or break the line to eat the fish. No fish is too large or small for the dolphin to take it. While trolling live baits for pelagic species dolphins will grab the bait fish by the tail and pull the bait fish off. There are days where you can fish in a normal way, hook a lot of fish, but bring few fish back to the dock. Customers are complaining about the money they spend to catch fish and have those fish taken by the dolphins. In some cases the dolphins will jerk the rod and reel from the anglers hands and take it overboard. I have had dolphins chase fish to my boat and land on my transom and fortunately so far have fallen back into the water rather than my cockpit. Commercial fishermen have to leave areas where they are catching fish and try to find another area to fish. This restricts their harvest and causes them to burn excess fuel and spend unnecessary time looking for other productive spots. Private rec anglers get frustrated with having their catch taken from them and losing their tackle.

As y’all have heard on numerous occasions from folks across the Gulf this is an increasing problem. This is not limited to any one sector as the dolphins affect charter, commercial, and private recreational anglers. We are struggling to receive help from whatever agency/s willing to work with us to find ways to deter these animals in a harmless way. Something needs to be done asap as this problem will not go away if left unattended. Due to the covid, unfortunately you will not hear from folks in person. You may hear from some online but the number of those who will send an email is very small compared to those you would hear from in person. Go to any dock, talk to any fisherman, you will hear similar stories. We are willing and able to work with anyone to address this problem as some type of fix is necessary to protect the animal and those of us on the water. We look forward to any suggestions on ways to deter these animals.

Thanks,

Capt Bob Zales, II
President
NACO

Fishery Management Consultant
SOFA


Capt Bob Zales, II
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8/18/2020 8:43:04Bill Kellyfkcfa1@hotmail.comMarathon, FLCommercial Fisher
King Mackerel Allocation
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Si3j9e0vDvLUnbSRSnDYT6XZkc7OW_B4/view?usp=sharing
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