Posts Tagged ‘Gulf red snapper’
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 »
Emergency rule gives option for longer season if quota not taken due to oil spill
GULFPORT, MS – In response to a request from Coastal Conservation Association, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has approved an emergency rule that paves the way for the recreational red snapper season to remain open past July 24 if the quota is not taken due to the oil spill. Dr. Russell Nelson, CCA’s Gulf Fisheries Director, made the request for the impact of the oil spill to be taken into account during the Council’s meeting this week in Gulfport, Mississippi.
“We appreciate the Council taking a pragmatic approach to this unprecedented situation in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Nelson. “If the quota is not taken, a longer season will hopefully allow more people who have been sidelined by the oil spill to take advantage of this recovering stock.”
The recreational red snapper season is set to run from June 1 to July 24 and is the shortest season on record at 53 days. With as much as 35 percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico closed to all fishing as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it is likely that the season will end before many anglers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are cleared to fish offshore. With passage of the emergency rule, on a motion made by Florida state member Bill Teehan, the Gulf Council has given NOAA Regional Administrator Roy Crabtree the authority to leave the season open if recreational quota remains available.
“This is an example of how the Council and the recreational community can work together to find common-sense solutions to complex problems,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “We are going to face many challenges in the Gulf of Mexico and it will be necessary for everyone to find a way through the tough times. It is good that the Council has acknowledged the impact the oil spill has had on recreational anglers and the coastal communities that depend on them.”
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: Gulf red snapper, red snapper
Posted in CCA Federal Fisheries, CCA Gulf of Mexico | No Comments »
Anglers left holding the bag with shortest red snapper season on record
NOAA Fisheries announced a perplexing paradox today that speaks to the flaws in the federal fisheries management system. In the release, NOAA Fisheries declared both an increase in the overall total allowable catch of Gulf red snapper in 2010 and the shortest recreational red snapper season on record, at the same time.
“We are very encouraged that a combination of factors, including shrimp trawl bycatch reduction and environmental impacts, have converged to produce a recovery in red snapper, at long last,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “However, there is obviously something systemically wrong with how this fishery is being managed when recreational red snapper anglers will be sitting at the dock more than 10 months of the year while the commercial sector fishes year-round.”
Even with a recovering stock, the recreational anglers from five Gulf States pursuing red snapper in the Gulf are still left with just 49 percent of the total allowable catch of 6.945 million pounds, while about 400 commercial fishermen are currently entitled to 51 percent of the harvest through a catch share system. A rebounding stock means recreational anglers are finding it easier to catch red snapper, and the fish they catch are bigger. With a quota set in total pounds, the only way the government is capable of controlling recreational harvest is to shorten the season. In 2010, that means 53 days.
“The next step for this fishery has to be a serious look at reallocation. When you think how much the demographics and economics of this fishery have changed since it was set at 51 percent commercial and 49 percent recreational, the current allocation is indefensible,” said Brewer. “We must have reallocation of fisheries where appropriate, and there is no greater need for this than in Gulf red snapper.”
At the recent Recreational Fishing Summit in Washington DC, commercial catch shares were credited by some federal fisheries managers for the recovery of Gulf red snapper, a claim that CCA and others in the recreational fishing community are quick to refute.
“There is an effort right now to credit catch shares with the recovery of Gulf red snapper, which is false advertising,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “This recovery is being fueled by the impact of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and others on the fishing fleet, by reductions in fishing effort due to high fuel prices, and by mandated reductions in shrimp trawl bycatch due to CCA legal action. Catch shares have succeeded in cementing in the current allocation and creating a 53-day recreational fishing derby, and that is about all.”
More information on Gulf red snapper, including a summary of a 2009 bioeconomic study conducted by Texas A&M University showing the overwhelming value of the recreational sector, can be found in the Gulf of Mexico section of the CCA Newsroom.
Tags: Gulf red snapper, reallocation, red snapper
Posted in CCA Gulf of Mexico, Catch Shares | No Comments »