The letter in the June 30 Post from Lee Weddig, executive vice president of the National Fisheries Institute, concerning the Post article "Staving Off a Black Day for Redfish" contained some misleading comments.
Mr. Weddig indicated that recreational fishing organizations were "hiding behind a self-righteous cry of conservation" and that "commercial fishermen were accused of endangering the health of the redfish stock."
Recreational fishing organizations are justly concerned about the sudden exploitation of a popular species of fish. The increased use of highly efficient, take-all, powered nets has caused the serious depletion of the once-abundant Gulf stock of king mackerel.
Because of a sudden increase in demand for redfish made popular by a Cajun recipe, that species has now been subjected to intensive harvesting by the owners of fewer than a dozen big-net boats whose redfish catches increased from 210,000 pounds annually in 1983 to 6.3 million pounds in 1985.
A redfish does not spawn before age 4 or 5, when it is 25 to 30 inches long (the size targeted by the net boats), but may live for 20 to 25 years. Although in the wild a female may dispense 1 million to 3 million eggs, research data indicate that 99 percent of the eggs may be destroyed before hatching. Can anyone estimate how long it will take that species to restore the stocks so rapidly depleted?
All Gulf states are now trying to conserve the remaining stocks of important species through bag limits, minimum or maximum lengths and research to determine how much harvesting pressure the stocks can tolerate and still remain healthy for future fishermen and customers.
Recreational fishing organizations have encouraged the acceptance of these restrictions in the interest of ensuring healthy stocks of fish for this and future generations of fishermen -- both those who fish commercially and those who fish for fun.