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New Scientific Findings Question Value of "No-Fishing Zone" at Cape Canaveral

Supposedly, the no-entry zone at Cape Kennedy is loaded with trout and other fish, and it is claimed that great numbers of them "spill over" into nearby waters to increase fish populations.

That's been the much-heralded story a Miami biologist uses to promote no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPA). He claims samplings at the Cape were America's first (and only) proof of how great it is to ban all kinds of fishing in an area.

Anglers have challenged the claim on a number of grounds, including the fact that the biologists' samplings inside versus outside the closed zone were done in the late ’80s, when fisheries outside the areas were devastated by gill nets. The netting was stopped in '95 and fish populations have increased dramatically in most cases.

And now there is new evidence causing more rain on the MPA parade.

Recent net samplings by state-level biologists turned up substantially more trout outside the no-entry zone than inside, another embarrassment for the total no-take gang.

The mystifying statistics were reported by Don Wilson of the Orlando Sentinel, who questioned state biologists about whether trout populations were down in the last few years.

Sure enough, samplings have shown drops overall, but the biggest reduction was inside the no-entry area where it amounted to a 64 percent decline in just a year, compared to only 9 percent in the fished part of the lagoon.

Stu Kennedy of the Florida Marine Research Institute said a decline may relate to natural cycles but he also speculated, as have others, that the no-fishing zone may result in increased numbers of larger trout, with mixed effects overall.

"Since seatrout are cannibalistic, they may be reducing the number of juvenile trout," he said.

Still, biologists cautioned against reading too much into the statistics because the research gear is difficult to use in heavy grasses. Derek Tremain said a team of six researchers used hook-and-line methods to catch 99 trout in two hours in the unrestricted areas.

Bottom line is that while trout stocks have fluctuated, there are far more today than before the gillnet ban and the no-fishing zone has been shown to have little or no effect on surrounding waters.

"But you can count on the MPA extremists to ignore the new evidence and continue to fool many evironmental groups with outdated and false information," said Florida Sportsman Founder Karl Wickstrom.

Writen by Gary Craig ( Central Florida East Coast Fishing)

So much for Biologist from Miami.
Give us back the "No-Fishing Zone"

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