Panel continues to push recreational-based catch share agenda
In a letter to the chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Coastal Conservation Association is asking the Council to reject the recommendations of the Limited Access Privilege Program Advisory Panel (LAPP AP) and abandon consideration of sector separation and catch share experiments in Gulf reef fish fisheries.
“The recreational anglers who participated in this panel have been greatly frustrated with Council-generated directives and LAPP AP agenda templates that were predetermined to achieve a particular outcome,” wrote Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “In the end, the panel has come up with a result that is opposed by almost the entire Gulf of Mexico for-hire sector, as well as the private boat angling sector.”
The LAPP AP was originally tasked by the Gulf Council with looking at Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ)/catch share programs for the “other species in the reef fish management unit” across sectors, but its scope was subsequently broadened significantly. Its focus evolved to include pilot programs to give a portion of the recreational red snapper quota to the for-hire fleet under a concept known as sector separation, which breaks the recreational sector into private boat anglers and charter/for-hire businesses.
“At the core of the report from the LAPP AP is the issue of taking red snapper quota away from the overall recreational sector to allow a tiny segment of the fishery to increase its economic viability,” says Brewer. “We see no effort by the Council to increase the financial viability of the entire fishery by maximizing the economic value available. NOAA Fisheries’ own analysis shows that the only way the Council will increase the number of days the for-hire vessels can fish for red snapper will be by taking fish away from the millions of private anglers along the Gulf Coast.”
CCA is asking the Council to focus instead on management measures such as completing the five-year review of the red snapper IFQ program, along with a review of red snapper allocation and the exploration of methods to exchange IFQ shares across sectors, all of which are mandated by the NOAA Catch Shares Policy. Similarly the Council should proceed with the timely completion of Amendment 28 and reallocate grouper between the recreational and commercial sector in order to create jobs and increased economic value from this fishery as well.
“We hope that the Council will recognize the extreme disconnect between the conclusions reached by this predisposed AP and the sentiments of the vast angling public,” says Brewer. “We urge the Council to abandon consideration of an unpopular and unnecessary program that caters to a tiny fragment of the fishery and instead focus on management measures that will create the greatest economic, conservation and social benefits.”
Click HERE for a copy of the CCA letter to the Gulf Council.
CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. For more information visit the CCA Newsroom at www.JoinCCA.org.