Posts Tagged ‘Catch Shares’
Sportsmen’s Caucus urges Council to step back from unpopular catch shares, sector separation
WASHINGTON, DC – In yet another sign of discontent over federal management of the nation’s marine fisheries, co-chairmen of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) have sent a letter to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council expressing the concerns of its membership over the concepts of catch share programs and sector separation. The bipartisan CSC is one of the largest and most effective caucuses in the US Congress with more than 300 members representing almost all 50 states.
“As leaders of the Caucus, we are writing to report that continued consideration and promotion of the management concepts known as sector separation and catch shares by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are causing concern among our members,” CSC co-chairmen Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) state in the letter. “More specifically, we have serious concerns about the current proposal to further subdivide the recreational fishing allocation by awarding the charter boats with their own guaranteed allocation.”
The CSC goes on to question the process the Gulf Council is using to develop and implement sector separation and catch share programs, and points out that the Council first needs better scientific data, additional economic evaluations and demographic studies to assess how mixed used fisheries would best be reallocated.
“Even if such reallocation issues were analyzed and modified, taking a portion of the allocation from the recreational sector for the proposed charter boat sector has the potential to decrease the funding available for state fisheries management,” the CSC states. “The members of the Caucus are well acquainted with the successes of state-based conservation, which is almost entirely guided and funded by sportsmen and the money they spend on fishing and hunting. The sportsmen’s ethic of stewardship is at the heart of the American System of Conservation Funding and is built, in part, on the foundation of individual anglers’ recreational fishing activities.”
The letter from the CSC is yet another unequivocal message from elected officials to federal fishery managers in opposition to sector separation and catch share programs. In 2009, four Gulf state governors wrote a letter stating their opposition to catch shares and Congress has passed amendments cutting funding for such programs.
“We hope the members of the Gulf Council are listening because the message from Governors, Congressmen, and the recreational angling community is quite clear – privatizing public wildlife resources through sector separation and catch shares is the wrong direction,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “If the Council and NOAA Fisheries continue to ignore this message, then that should be interpreted as yet more evidence that the federal management system is broken and Congress should engage to either rein in a federal agency that has lost its way or explore a completely new paradigm for managing the nation’s marine resources.” To see the full letter from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, click HERE.
Tags: Catch Shares, gulf council, reallocation, sector separation
Posted in CCA Federal Fisheries, CCA Gulf of Mexico | No Comments »
Outlandish catch share proposal draws heated opposition from anglers
SAVANNAH, GA – A request by a commercial fishing group for a “voluntary” catch share program in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery raised hackles at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting this week. Aside from concerns about the legality of the concept and outrage over the details of the proposal, recreational anglers are questioning why the Council continues to explore catch share programs a year after it voted to terminate all work related to catch share development.
“Labeling it ‘voluntary’ violates even their own definition of catch shares, so what you are left to assume is that this is nothing more than an attempt by catch share proponents to circumvent the will of the Council and keep these unwanted programs in the discussion,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s Government Relations Committee. “Beyond that, the details of this particular proposal should offend everyone, whether they fish or not.”
The South Atlantic Fisherman’s Association (SAFA) made a presentation to the Council’s Catch Shares Committee on a Voluntary Individual Fishing Quota Program for several species in the snapper grouper complex, quite possibly the worst candidate for such a program. This mixed-species fishery has substantial recreational landings and 600-plus permitted commercial fishermen, yet only about 50 fishermen have signed up for the program. In contrast, catch share proponents have tried for years to implement a program in the golden crab fishery, which is purely commercial with roughly half a dozen commercial boats involved, and have not been successful.
Making the proposal even more inappropriate, SAFA’s presentation included a request for the Council to conduct an analysis to determine which of the current regulations, including conservation measures such as size limits, trip limits, area closures and spawning season closures, could be reduced or eliminated for the “voluntary” catch share program. SAFA also asked that the federal government purchase the vessel monitoring system required of commercial vessels and pay for the installation on boats involved in the program.
“Apparently, it is not enough that proponents of catch shares want to hand these commercial fishermen a windfall, but they also want them to be exempted from the conservation measures in place for these species and make the rest of us pay for their equipment, too,” said Brewer. “Exactly what is the benefit of a program like that and why does it merit a presentation to this Council?”
Incredibly, the Catch Share Committee voted 4-4 on a motion to start an amendment to institute the “voluntary” catch share program. The chairman of the committee ultimately voted against it so the motion failed, but the committee did approve a motion to do an analysis of the “voluntary” catch share program.
“It is unbelievable and frightening that such a proposal came to life and was within one vote of passing that committee,” said Brewer. “It was just a year ago that the Council voted to dismiss these programs and yet here is one of the worst ones I’ve ever seen somehow being kept alive in this forum. We urge the Council to reject this proposal outright and stand by its vote to terminate any work that seeks to subsidize the most destructive and unprofitable sectors of our fisheries.”
Tags: Catch Shares, snapper grouper complex, south atlantic council
Posted in CCA South Atlantic, Catch Shares | No Comments »
Sector Separation – It’s OK to Throw Bad Ideas Away
by Ted Venker
Coastal Conservation Association
Linus Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and one of only four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize.
As far as I know, though, he never worked in fisheries management. He might not have liked to fish and possibly may not have even liked to eat fish. However, given his famous saying about ideas, we could certainly use him on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council today.
“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas,” Pauling once said, “and throw the bad ones away.”
What Linus saw so clearly has apparently proven to be a tough concept for most of the Gulf Council to grasp. It’s good to have ideas. Big problems need lots of ideas to solve. Put them all on the table – poke them, prod them, sift through them. But when they turn out to be bad ideas, throw them out and be done with them, for goodness’ sake.
Someone should have thrown out the idea of sector separation long ago, but instead the idea seems to be a classic case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
Sector separation is the proposal to formally split existing and future recreational sector allocations of harvest into separate private boat and charter / for-hire / headboat sector portions. This approach has been pushed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which is also advocating catch shares for the for-hire and headboat sectors.
Times are tough for charter/for-hire and headboat operators in the Gulf of Mexico. No one disputes that. Times are tough all over. But somehow, a small, vocal minority of operators has convinced the Gulf Council that they need extra help. They figured their lives would be a lot easier if someone would literally give them some of the recreational quota of red snapper and allow them to be one of the very few segments in America today with some stability in their businesses. The Council apparently feels the need to do something to help them.
In reality, every entity from the federal government to your local vegetable stand craves a little stability in their business right now. I bet all of the state wildlife management agencies that are seeing their budgets slashed and burned would love to see some stability and guaranteed revenue streams as well.
It’s a nice gig for the operators, if they can get it. But does the chance to play favorites for a few operators justify the Council striking off on such a radical and wildly unpopular idea that makes no sense at any level?
It makes no economic sense for anyone but a handful of fortunate operators. By catering to a very small segment of the Gulf reef fish fishery, the Council is apparently willing to shortchange the private boat angling sector that is many times larger and far more economically vibrant – see Table 1 below.
NOAA’s own economic studies show that for the period 2009 to 2032, private boat recreational anglers will contribute $9.1 billion of the value in the Gulf of Mexico shrimp and reef fish fisheries, followed by the commercial shrimp fishery at $1.6 billion, and the recreational for-hire fishery at just $0.83 billion.
It shouldn’t make any sense to state wildlife management agencies. Given the limited recreational allocation, the only way the idea works at all is if managers take fish and fishing days away from private boat anglers and give them to a few private businesses. Private boat anglers supply the vast majority of license fees that support state fisheries programs. Charter/for-hire vessels supply a much smaller percentage of revenues. It is very likely a move to separate the recreational sector will create challenges for state fisheries directors by influencing the growth in the number of licensed anglers and fishing opportunities in their states.
The issue of sector separation and catch shares for the recreational angling sector has drawn opposition from governors, Congress and recreational anglers. And yet, the Gulf Council members continue to toy with the idea like a puzzle they can’t quite fit together.
Linus Pauling, where are you when we need you?
Before the Council lets sector separation whither into existence against the will of everyone but a few operators, it should first heed calls to reallocate fisheries according to modern factors like economic, social and conservation criteria, rather than outdated catch history. There is a very good likelihood that reallocating red snapper would solve many of the problems faced by operators without creating so many new ones.
Today’s Gulf red snapper allocation is 51 percent commercial/49 percent recreational. Before the Gulf Council turns the recreational sector inside out and upside down for the benefit of a few charter/for-hire and headboat operators, it would seem wise to first determine what happens if they changed the allocation to something more reflective of current reality. Maybe something that would encourage growth in the sector that is the greatest economic engine in this fishery.
Now that’s a good idea.
If those same operators are still struggling a few years from now under the new allocation, then perhaps you reallocate again or perhaps you throw some other ideas on the table and sift through those.
But take it from a guy who won two Nobel Prizes – don’t forget to throw the bad ideas away.
Tags: Catch Shares, EDF, sector separation
Posted in CCA Blogs, CCA Gulf of Mexico | 1 Comment »
Even Gulf commercial fishermen say catch share concept fails
KEY WEST, FL – Recreational anglers apparently are not the only ones who object to the use of catch share programs in the Gulf of Mexico. During the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting this week in Florida, commercial grouper fishermen pointed out serious flaws in the catch share concept that are forcing them to discard an estimated 700,000 to 1 million pounds of dead red snapper annually. Coastal Conservation Association is calling for an accelerated review of both the commercial red snapper and grouper catch share plans by the Gulf Council.
“A lot of the grouper guys say the concept is not working and they are throwing half their fish away. They can’t get shares to keep the red snapper they catch while they are fishing for grouper, and so they are asking for the commercial red snapper program to sunset and just go away,” said Dr. Russell Nelson, CCA’s Gulf Fisheries consultant. “CCA pointed out that this kind of waste was a likely result when the Council was discussing the grouper catch share program in 2009, but those concerns were ignored.”
According to public comments to the Gulf Council by Bob Spaeth of the Southern Offshore Fisheries Association, a survey of commercial grouper fishermen revealed that a majority felt they were worse off after their Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program went into effect. Furthermore, it appears that the commercial grouper sector may have caught the majority of its shares for the entire year already, meaning that very few grouper will be landed in last quarter of the year. That prompted a request from the commercial sector that they be allowed to catch some of next year’s quota this year.
“Again, this shows that catch share programs pose more problems than solutions,” said CCA’s Chester Brewer, chairman of the National Government Relations Committee. “The idea may be compelling on paper to some, but when you put it into practice and factor in human nature, all the economic models fall apart. These ideas are sold as one-size fits all solutions, but there are inherent, fundamental flaws that are unavoidable.”
As the debate flared over commercial catch share programs, the Gulf Council tried to sidestep controversy over the appointment of a Headboat IFQ Advisory Panel that was originally intended to explore separating headboats from the recreational sector and giving them their own shares of red snapper in yet another catch share program. In a thinly veiled attempt to deflect mounting criticism over the panel, the Council elected to rename it the Ad Hoc Headboat Advisory Panel and broaden its scope to examine all things important to the headboat industry, not just sector separation and catch shares.
“If commercial boats and recreational anglers don’t favor catch shares, it is hard to see why NOAA Fisheries continues to promote them. They don’t make economic sense or conservation sense,” said Nelson. “Unfortunately, there are financial incentives for Councils to implement catch share programs and so these concepts keep hanging around even though very few people are in favor of them.”
CCA has encouraged members and all recreational anglers to contact the Gulf Council at firstname.lastname@example.org to urge the rejection of sector separation and catch shares in recreational fisheries.
Tags: Catch Shares, grouper IFQ, gulf council, red snapper IFQ
Posted in CCA Gulf of Mexico, Catch Shares | No Comments »
Federal insistence on catch shares for headboats outrages anglers
NOAA ignores overwhelming opposition, proceeds with controversial program
In spite of opposition from governors, Congress and the vast majority of recreational anglers, NOAA Fisheries has unveiled a proposal for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to take red snapper from the private boat angling sector and give them away in a catch share program. This latest affront to anglers is outlined as an item on the Gulf Council’s June agenda calling for a closed-door session to appoint an advisory panel to make recommendations on a new headboat Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program.
“It is infuriating that NOAA Fisheries is disregarding the very clear messages that have been delivered on catch shares and their impact on recreational anglers,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “Four Gulf state governors signed a letter in 2009 warning about the negative impacts of catch shares on recreational angling. The Jones Amendment barring any NOAA funds from being used to implement new catch share programs was approved by Congress just a few weeks ago. Yet, somehow, NOAA Fisheries believes it is OK to proceed with a closed-door session to figure out how to do a new catch share program. This is an agency that seems almost completely disconnected.”
Catch share systems bestow a percentage of a public fishery resource to a select group of fishermen to harvest. The commercial entities pay nothing back to the public for this right to harvest a public resource and Coastal Conservation Association has contended that these programs ignore the participation and beneficial economic impacts of recreational fishing. According to a presentation by NOAA Fisheries to the Gulf Council in April 2011, splitting the recreational sector and implementing a catch share program for charter/for-hire boats could shorten the private boat recreational red snapper season by as much as 20 percent. CCA is opposed to sector separation and filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2009 over the Gulf grouper catch share program in a case that continues to make its way through federal district court.
“NOAA has funded economic studies that show the vast majority of the value of Gulf reef fish fisheries is in the private recreational boat sector,” said Brewer. “Why would they insist on going down a path that discourages the most valuable part of this fishery? When you combine the public outcry with the economic data, it appears that NOAA Fisheries is intent on doing the wrong things to manage this fishery. It defies logic and common sense.”
In response to the closed-door session to appoint an IFQ advisory panel, Gulf Council member Ed Sapp has requested clarification from NOAA Counsel on the Jones Amendment that prohibits NOAA from expending funds to implement new catch share programs.
“I’ve already received numerous phone calls from fishermen who believe NOAA and the Gulf Council are operating out of line,” he said. “I feel that it is vitally important that we have these public discussions before we proceed with any new catch share related issues.”
Tags: Catch Shares, gulf council, headboats, IFQ
Posted in CCA Gulf of Mexico, Catch Shares | 1 Comment »
HOUSTON, TX – Following its meeting March 28-29 in Tampa, Florida, the Limited Access Privilege Program (LAPP) Advisory Panel to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is presenting a suite of options at the Gulf Council meeting next week to aid the struggling charter/for-hire industry and seem to lead inevitably to catch shares and sector separation in the recreational sector.
Discussions at the two-day AP meeting included a “days-at-sea” program for the charter for hire fleet and the allocation of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the 63-boat headboat fleet in the red snapper fishery. Each proposal would presumably reserve part of the recreational allocation for such boats and allow them to fish it throughout the year. The LAPP AP was originally tasked with looking at IFQ/catch share programs for the “other species in the reef fish management unit” across sectors, but was subsequently tasked with looking into pilot programs to give the for-hire fleet flexibility in red snapper fishing days in an effort to help the depressed economic status of the fleet.
“Development of these proposals was a fast, unexpected turn of events,” said Bill Bird, a CCA board member and panel participant. “It seemed to me that everyone in that room, including Council staff, knew where they wanted this to go before the meeting even started, despite CCA’s objections. Most of the details remain undefined, but it is difficult to understand how either program would work unless those boats get a specific allocation of the recreational quota. You can call it anything you want, but it looks and sounds like the first steps to sector separation and catch shares.”
From the start, CCA was concerned at the prospect of the AP turning to catch shares as a tool and it is clear that those concerns were well-founded.
“The assignment of the catch share approach to a pilot headboat program was out of left field and spun out of control at the meeting very quickly, even though no headboat operators are represented on the LAPP AP,” said Troy Williamson, CCA board member and panel participant. “It was a runaway train and CCA will certainly make the case at the Council to stop it in its tracks.”
CCA is opposed to both recreational catch shares and to splitting the recreational sector between private boat anglers and the charter/for-hire fleet. “Sector separation,” as it is known, and catch shares are both unpopular concepts with the vast majority of the recreational angling community.
“The days-at-sea program is being sold as a benefit for conservation, data collection and management, but all of those things can be achieved by means other than catch shares and sector separation,” said Bird. “Additionally, the Council could help the entire recreational sector and not just the charter and headboat operators by reallocating the red snapper fishery properly in the first place. In fact, the Council just decided at its February 2011 meeting to finally begin reviewing red snapper allocation and the existing red snapper IFQ program. To make this recommendation before that review has even started doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
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.
Tags: Catch Shares, Gulf red snapper, LAPP AP
Posted in CCA Gulf of Mexico, Catch Shares | 5 Comments »
Coastal Conservation Association
The catch share issue is generating a lot of attention, and it is certainly warranted. Any concept that proposes to privatize a public resource should get a strong reaction from the public and every attempt should be made to beat it back.
However, some of the rhetoric about catch shares is overheated, and it is threatening to blur some other important concepts, like the very real differences between recreational and commercial fishing. Take for example the recent press release headlined, “Catch Share Activists Meet Heavy Resistance.” That release uses words like, “turncoats,” “sellouts,” “treachery,” and “sharecropping” to blast proponents of catch shares. Very provocative stuff that would get anyone’s blood boiling. Light the torches and grab your pitchforks!
The release goes on to laud elected officials for defending the “fishing industry,” and laments that too many fishermen are struggling to provide for themselves and their communities.
“Honest fishermen work very hard to make a living in our states every day,” it quotes representatives who are pushing an amendment to block funding for catch shares as saying. “We write to express our concern that NOAA’s catch share policy will further endanger the economic vitality of the already struggling fishing industry…”
The release is about an amendment filed by Rep. Walter Jones, who has been an unabashed, unapologetic champion of the commercial fishing industry, to keep any of the millions of dollars earmarked in NOAA’s budget from being used on catch share programs in the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and New England areas. It is an amendment that Coastal Conservation Association happens to support – there are far better things for NOAA to be spending scarce resources on than catch share programs. Things like more frequent stock assessments, developing fishery independent data and improved recreational catch data. CCA is currently engaged in a lawsuit against the federal government and Environmental Defense Fund over a catch share program. A victory there, and passage of Rep. Jones’s amendment, will go a long way to slowing down the rush to embrace catch shares as a one-size-fits-all solution to any fisheries problem.
It is important, though, for anglers to keep an eye on the ball in this debate. Beneath the incendiary language of that press release is a continuing, subtle and somewhat sinister slide into defending the commercial fishing industry, which caused most of the problems in our fisheries in the first place. Rep. Jones has filed a potentially useful piece of legislation to derail a management tool that was developed for commercial fisheries, and as a side benefit it would also ward off the negative impacts of catch shares to recreational ones. You may recall that North Carolina made headlines recently for allowing trawlers to continue industrial fishing operations in state waters despite outrageously wasteful striped bass kills that were videotaped by recreational anglers.
So what exactly is this “hard-working fishing industry” described in this release that some groups are fighting to protect? I don’t know too many in the recreational sector who fall into that category other than those in the charterboat industry, which depends on and caters to recreational anglers. The marinas, and the tackle and boat manufacturers could conceivably be the “fishing industry,” but I don’t get the feeling that is who this release was talking about. After all, the same folks who wrote this release also marched on Washington DC last year and, although there were well-intentioned recreational anglers in their midst, for the most part they were arm in arm with trawlers and netters and longliners from all over New England to demand their right-to-fish at all costs.
I know lots of anglers who work hard to support their fishing habit. They aren’t supporting their families with it. They’re passionate, sure, and they spend a fortune buying boats and tackle and fuel and bait and equipment. They want to go fish whenever they can, which is never often enough, and they hope the resources are healthy enough that they can bring a pile home for dinner.
But are they a “hard-working industry” bent on bringing enough fish back to port to sell and support their community? That doesn’t sound like recreation. It doesn’t sound like the for-hire industry either. That sounds a lot like commercial fishing, and as we have seen historically, and most recently in Maryland and North Carolina, industrial fishing and recreational fishing don’t have the same goals on most issues.
In the fight to rein in this Administration’s zeal for catch shares, it is good to find common ground with Rep. Jones and others where we can. But it is also good to not get so caught up in overheated rhetoric that the recreational sector sells its soul and erases the lines between recreational angling and industrial fishing.
To re-rig an old saying, the rear-end you kiss today just might be connected to the trawler who dumps thousands of pounds of dead striped bass over the side tomorrow.
Tags: Catch Shares
Posted in CCA Blogs, Catch Shares | No Comments »
Much has been made about the catch share issue in recent months. Catch shares are a poorly understood issue that has been made more complicated by an absolute avalanche of mistruths, half-truths, and outright lies swirling about it in fishing chatrooms and blogs across the country.
Almost every facet of the past, present and future of catch shares has been grossly distorted. A glance at the average chatroom would lead casual readers to believe that there is a vast, strange conspiracy linking all-powerful environmental groups with oil companies with “double-agents” posing as anglers to rid the world of fishermen. One recurring theme is that the goal is to empty the oceans of all people so the oil companies can pillage at will. Another, green theme says the goal is to empty the oceans of all people so that the fish and whales are left alone to prosper. There are long, fantastical charts linking this group to that group, to prove the conspiracy of anti-fishers exists. Everyone is on Pew’s payroll, or Environmental Defense’s or Exxon’s.
The only thing missing is a good 007 character to save the day.
None of it is true, but it makes good reading. And nothing spoils a good tale like a few cold facts, but in the interest of setting at least some of the record straight, this column attempts to splash a little reality on the catch share mystery.
- Catch share programs have been used sporadically in commercial fisheries for decades. They were created to address a fundamental problem in some commercial fisheries – too many boats chasing too few fish, resulting in dangerous, wasteful derbies. If you have ever watched the early seasons of Deadliest Catch on The Discovery Channel, that was a derby fishery. The whistle blew, all the boats went to catch king crab no matter what the weather was, no one slept and they fished until someone, somewhere, calculated the quota had been caught and then the season ended. Some made a fortune, some went broke, and everyone fished in a manner to catch as much as possible as fast as possible regardless of the danger or bycatch involved. The fact that no one sleeps for 4 or 5 days at a time is the reason it’s called Deadliest Catch.
- Staying with the Deadliest Catch theme, catch shares took the whole quota for king crab and divided it up among boats based on their past catch history. Each boat’s percentage effectively became “theirs” to harvest, however and whenever they liked during the season. The Northwestern, the Cornelia Marie, the Wizard, the Time Bandit and others all now “own” shares of the king crab fishery.
- The goal of catch shares in that scenario is to eliminate the derbies and reduce bycatch. A by-product of catch shares is that inevitably, some boats will sell out or lease their share to other boats. The overall number of boats drops, until a relatively few big boats are left fishing. Ideally, the dangerous derbies are eliminated, bycatch is reduced and the economics improve. That is the goal of a catch share system in a purely commercial fishery.
- Some environmental groups, Environmental Defense Fund foremost among them, became enamored, somewhat naively, with the prospects of applying catch shares to all fisheries, including recreational ones, based on their use, implementation and success in purely commercial fisheries. The critical disconnect is that no one at EDF understood or appreciated the vast differences between recreational fisheries and commercial fisheries. In EDF’s mind, catch shares were a solution to all fisheries problems.
Now, in order to set the stage for what comes next, you have to understand a separate but connected issue, and that is how allocations are set in mixed-use fisheries – fisheries that have both commercial and recreational participation. Allocations between recreational and commercial sectors have historically been based on catch history, often using time frames as short as selected three-year segments. Given federal managers’ history of promoting commercial fisheries, the time frames were often not favorable to the recreational sector.
Those allocations are essentially frozen, despite the growth of recreational angling and the growing economic contribution of the recreational sector. They are frozen because the reallocation process is a political nightmare for a Fishery Management Council. It is long, convoluted and tortuous, with lots of emotion thrown in for good measure. No Council member or staffer willingly endures it if he or she can possibly avoid it.
As a result, allocations that were set 20 or 30 years ago are completely out of whack with the demographics, population and public demand that exists today. When a stagnant recreational allocation combines with the constant migration to the nation’s coasts, the end result is that more and more recreational anglers are trapped chasing a fixed allotment of fish, resulting in shorter seasons and greater restrictions for everyone. The red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is a prime example. About 300 commercial boats currently chase 51 percent of the entire harvest of red snapper in the Gulf under a catch share system. Hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers get the other 49 percent.
And no one in NOAA Fisheries has been interested in cracking the egg on reallocation.
- Jumping back to catch shares, Dr. Jane Lubchenco was appointed to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2008. Dr. Lubchenco is a marine scientist with deep ties to EDF, including a stint on its board.
- Not long after that appointment, the Obama Administration created the Catch Share Policy Task Force, signaling a new focus to broadly impose catch share systems on federal fisheries, including those enjoyed by recreational anglers. Compounding the complexity of this issue is the fact that the Obama Administration is filled with people from places like San Francisco and Chicago who do not exactly understand or appreciate saltwater recreational angling.
- Promoted by a former board member of EDF – which doesn’t understand or appreciate recreational angling – in an Administration that doesn’t understand or appreciate recreational angling, the danger of a Catch Shares Policy Task Force was immediately clear. There was NOTHING to prevent catch shares from proceeding as a one-size-fits-all solution for the commercial and recreational sectors in every fishery.
- A coalition of marine industry and fishery conservation groups, recognizing the need to become involved in the process of shaping the new policy, engaged the Administration on the issue of catch shares. At the same time, the coalition engaged with environmental groups that were heavily promoting catch share systems, including Environmental Defense Fund. The goal of that engagement was to educate them on the problems catch shares present for recreational anglers and shape the policy so that at the very least it was not detrimental to recreational angling.
- That engagement is the source of a lot of confusion on the Internet. In the eyes of some conspiracy-theorist bloggers, by engaging the Administration and the environmental community on catch shares, the angling groups involved (CCA, CCC, TBF, IGFA, ASA, NMMA) were somehow “negotiating with the Devil,” “selling anglers out,” “getting on the EDF payroll,” etc. That line of thinking completely ignores the consequences of non-engagement. An outcome driven by an EDF-driven Catch Share Policy Task Force, in an Administration that has no interest in recreational angling, could only be bad for sport fishermen. The belief that anyone can achieve a favorable outcome merely by turning their back on this issue and “just saying No” is pure political fantasy.
- The coalition created a list of points to pursue in discussions with the administration, most of which are now included in the NOAA Catch Share Policy released in late 2010, such as:
- The coalition is and always has been firmly against catch shares for recreational anglers. The coalition does not believe they are an appropriate tool to manage recreational anglers under any circumstances.
- The coalition is firmly against separating the recreational sector into for-hire/charter and private boat designations.
- In mixed-use fisheries, those that have a quota for both recreational and commercial fishers, it may be determined that catch shares are an appropriate tool for the commercial sector. However, before implementing a commercial catch share system, the allocation must be redefined and updated using economic, social and conservation criteria.
- Once set, the new allocation must be reviewed periodically using those same criteria.
- In mixed-use fisheries that employ a catch share system for the commercial sector, the commercial shares must be made available for transfer to the recreational sector to allow for the growth of the recreational sector. The mechanism for transferring commercial shares could include state agencies, but is as yet undefined.
- The coalition’s engagement effectively changed the Catch Share Policy from one that was initially poised to work against recreational anglers, to a tool that may be used to address the persistent allocation problems that have short-changed anglers for decades. Would this be the case if the coalition had not engaged? Absolutely not. We would certainly have a catch share policy, but there would be very little in it that might work FOR anglers.
- Ideally, applying the current catch share policy in the Gulf of Mexico for red snapper, for example, could result in a 70% or 80% recreational share, with the potential to shift more commercial quota to the recreational side if economic, conservation and social factors determine it is warranted. Unfortunately, the policy does not apply to Gulf red snapper since a catch share system was implemented for that fishery in 2006. The outdated allocation for Gulf red snapper remains a stubborn problem seeking a solution. However, CCA is currently pursuing reallocation and transferability of commercial red snapper shares at the Gulf Council.
The coalition of groups that engaged with the Administration and the environmental community on catch shares stepped in to prevent a disaster for recreational anglers. Perhaps that is not as interesting as a good spy novel, full of intrigue, deception and betrayal, but this is not some daytime soap opera. This is a real-life fisheries debate, with real political consequences that must be confronted and dealt with.
When it comes to the Internet, it is good to remember that often the simplest explanation is correct. If it starts to sound like something Ian Fleming wrote, then maybe it has been written for entertainment purposes only. In fact, you should be suspicious of everything you read in chatrooms and online forums, which means you should even take this article with a grain of salt. At the very least, go see the complete text of CCA’s documents and testimony before Congress and letters to the Administration, and check out information about our lawsuit against the federal government and Environmental Defense Fund over the Gulf grouper catch share program. It’s all on the Catch Shares page in the Newsroom section of www.JoinCCA.org. Do some research and, by all means, decide for yourself.
Tags: Catch Shares, EDF, NOAA Catch Share Policy
Posted in CCA Atlantic States, CCA Blogs, CCA Gulf of Mexico, CCA South Atlantic, Catch Shares | 8 Comments »
Overwhelming opposition to management scheme at Gulf Council workshop
TAMPA, FL – If the public comment period at the Sector Separation Workshop hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is any indication, recreational anglers are united against any proposal to separate the recreational sector into for-hire/charter and private boat angler categories. The three-day workshop was put on by the Gulf Council this week ostensibly to help managers and stakeholders gain a better understanding of sector separation as a proposed management tool for recreational fisheries.
“CCA is opposed to sector separation simply because it makes recreational anglers compete against each other at a time when there seem to be fewer and fewer opportunities for anglers to pursue fish offshore,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “There would be no desire for sector separation if we had adequate allocation for these fisheries in the first place, and the allocation problem is not going to be fixed through a management scheme that slices up the recreational sector.”
As it stands now, fisheries managers divide harvest quotas between commercial boats and recreational anglers. Under Sector Separation, managers would assign quotas to commercial boats, private boat anglers and charter/for-hire boats. In testimony submitted to the Gulf Council, CCA focused on four key points in opposing sector separation:
- The creation of imbalances in distribution of fish among anglers fishing from private boats and those fishing on charter vessels;
- The creation of deep political conflicts within states as decision-makers grapple with how to spread fishing opportunities between private and charter sectors;
- The challenges state fisheries directors will have when determining how Sector Separation will influence the growth in licensed anglers and fishing opportunities in their states;
- Shorter public season for most offshore fishing. Private boat anglers will often be unable to pursue many species unless they pay a charter/for-hire vessel.
“Sector separation will only create additional divisiveness among users and will further detract from the public’s ability to access these important natural resources,” said Brewer. “We sincerely hope that Council members are listening to the overwhelming majority of recreational anglers who believe that this is not a good management tool for our sector. There is a long list of serious problems that need to be resolved before the Council should even consider taking on this kind of diversion.”
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. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.
Tags: Catch Shares, reallocation, sector separation
Posted in CCA Atlantic States, CCA Federal Fisheries, CCA Gulf of Mexico, CCA Pacific Northwest, CCA South Atlantic, Catch Shares | No Comments »
Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Oversight Hearing Committee on Natural Resources United States House of Representatives
Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation delivered testimony on the U.S. Catch Share Policy before the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Oversight Hearing, Committee on Natural Resources on behalf of CCC, American Sportfishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association and The Billfish Foundation.
In his testimony, Angers conveyed that the organizations appreciate that implementing catch shares in commercial-only fisheries can be a useful tool for managing harvest, however they are an inherently inappropriate tool for recreational-only fisheries.
The groups have serious concerns about the potential impact of commercial catch shares on the recreational sector in mixed-use fisheries (in which there are both recreational and commercial components). Our organizations respectfully submit that the Draft Policy Catch Share Policy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under consideration lacks the necessary guidance to protect the recreational sector from adverse impacts associated with the implementation of a catch shares policy in mixed-use fisheries.
Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Coastal Conservation
Given the cascading and substantial impacts of fisheries restrictions and closures currently underway in a number of key recreational fisheries, the protection of the recreational sector should be a priority for the Congress – and for NOAA Fisheries as it develops any new overarching policy on catch shares. At a minimum, NOAA should ensure that vital socio-economic information on recreational fisheries is gathered prior to the issuance of any final policy; undertake a re-evaluation of allocations prior to implementing a commercial catch share system, and allow inter-sector transfers of catch share quota through mechanisms that ensure equitable access to the recreational sector.
In mixed-use fisheries where there is a large and growing recreational sector, exclusive fishing rights proposals maximize benefits to the commercial fishing industry while ignoring the participation, conservation value and economic contribution of recreational fishing, which totals $80 billion and provides over half a million jobs – an economic impact equal to or greater than commercial fishing economic impacts.
For the complete testimony, click HERE.
Tags: Catch Shares
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