The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has published a proposed rule that would suspend the requirement for using circle hooks with live or natural baits in all Atlantic tournaments featuring billfish categories. Curiously, the proposal states that the rule might be suspended of 2007 in order to take advantage of the conservation benefits that circle hooks afford through the increased survival of released fish. Read more about it here.
This issue might be critical to the ongoing review of the status of white marlin in relation to the endangered species act. The reaction to the circle hook requirement has ranged from full support to a demand for an exception for baits trolled with artificial lures.
This new rulemaking comes in reaction to the complaints about the requirement and may conflict with many tournaments that already have printed literature and rules for 2007.
Public comments on the rule are being accepted through March 30 via the following means:
Mail: NOAA/NMFS HMS Management Division, 263 13th Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Fax: 727–824–5398. Include the following in the subject line or envelope front: ‘‘Comments on Proposed Billfish Circle Hook Rule.’’