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Posts Tagged ‘reallocation’

Congress weighs in on Gulf Council’s sector separation scheme

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.

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Economic studies make convincing case for reallocation

Mountain of evidence points to allocation increases for recreational anglers in the Gulf

With the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set to review allocations for Gulf red snapper and grouper during its meeting this week in Tampa, Coastal Conservation Association has presented a summary of 19 studies going back to 2000 that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater portion of the allocation of these two species to the recreational sector. All of the studies, conducted by private, academic and government scientists, have been presented to the Gulf Council previously and the Council has chosen to take no affirmative action.

“We’re not talking about one or two studies, we’re talking about an overwhelming body of work spanning  more than a decade by some of the most respected  economists in fisheries management,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “The best available economic science clearly supports increasing the recreational allocation. It is difficult to understand why NOAA Fisheries has not acted on these studies before now to produce the best possible outcome for the economies of the Gulf states and for the nation.”

CCA supports basing allocations on modern economic and demographic criteria that reflect current and future realities for these fisheries rather than outdated catch histories. Management schemes that give away public resources through measures such as sector separation and catch shares lock-in outdated allocations to individual businesses, making those resources subsequently unavailable to respond to economic and demographic changes.

“We urge NOAA Fisheries to use the considerable economic information it has in hand to increase opportunities for the entire recreational sector, comprised of hundreds of thousands of anglers,” said Brewer. “Recreational angling is an economic engine that should be enhanced during these tough economic times that are impacting every sector of our society.  These 19 studies indicate that a relatively simple allocation shift would immediately produce economic benefits to anglers and the businesses that depend on them.”

CCA supplied the summary of economic data to Gulf Council members and NOAA staff in a letter to Council Chairman Robert Gill. CCA urged the Council to act on the information and look objectively towards maximizing the benefits generated for the entire nation by these valuable marine resources.

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CCA calls on South Atlantic Council to manage for the future

Reallocation glaringly absent from documents on managing fisheries

As part of its ongoing effort to encourage the federal fisheries management system to overhaul the way it views the nation’s marine resources, Coastal Conservation Association is urging the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to break with the failed policies of the past and chart new management plans for a series of important recreational fisheries.

In recent months, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have all opted to explore reallocation of fisheries using forward-looking criteria rather than outdated catch histories. The South Atlantic Council is noticeably absent from that list.

South Atlantic Council staff recently concluded a series of public hearings and scoping meetings on a wide variety of marine resource issues. Nowhere in the hundreds of pages of documents that accompanied dozens of controversial management measures was there any reference to reallocating the nation’s fisheries to better reflect modern shifts in demographics, economics and conservation ethics. Federal fisheries have historically been allocated using backward-looking catch histories, many of them locked into time frames that were selected to favor high commercial allocations.

“We understand that we are dealing with an agency that has not been sympathetic to recreational interests. However, evidence is mounting that not only are recreational anglers usually the best stewards of the resource, we are the best economic engine in many of these fisheries, too,” said Bill Bird, CCA National Board member from Florida. “In many cases, it is not even a close call. Instead of finding new and sometimes baffling ways to preserve an outdated commercial fishery, we believe managers have an obligation to begin managing these fisheries for the future, instead of simply repeating the past.”

Economist Brad Gentner recently analyzed the South Atlantic red snapper fishery and found recreational fishing generates significantly greater economic impact than the commercial sector.

“We’re not saying every fishery has to be 100 percent recreational, but many of the current allocations border on the absurd when you look objectively at the economics,” said Chester Brewer, CCA National Government Relations Committee chairman. “We recognize that economics should be just one of the guiding principles to manage these fisheries, but even a cursory glance at terrestrial wildlife management shows what can be done with a forward-leaning approach. There is no reason marine resource management should remain stuck in a bygone era.”

In testifying on Snapper Grouper Amendment 24 during the recent public hearings, CCA asked the Council to examine the red snapper allocation based on social, economic and conservation factors.

“We believe that the greatest economic benefits to the country can be achieved by having the South Atlantic red snapper fishery reopen as a recreational-only fishery,” said Bird. “The snapshot report by Gentner indicates that the South Atlantic Council should follow the lead of other councils and take this opportunity to order a complete economic analysis as part of an overall effort to chart a new path for this fishery.”

Click HERE for the economic snapshot of South Atlantic red snapper.

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Gulf Council begins to act on call for reallocation

CCA’s call for reallocation could provide much-needed relief for recreational anglers

GULFPORT, MS – The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has taken a long-awaited first step toward addressing outdated allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors in the grouper and red snapper fisheries. During its meeting this week in Gulfport, the Council voted to begin an amendment on grouper allocations, and to review red snapper allocations and transferability options at its next meeting in April.

“This is something that Coastal Conservation Association has been working on for a long time, and it is a significant development for recreational anglers,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “Frozen allocations based on ‘realities’ that no longer exist have plagued recreational anglers for decades. Crafting forward-looking allocations for these fisheries based on current and future economic, social and conservation criterion is the foundation of sensible management.”

CCA has maintained that economic data should be a key part of how allocations are determined for important mixed-use fisheries that have both commercial and recreational participation. The posterchild for the problems that exist with outdated allocations is Gulf red snapper, where about 300 commercial boats take 51 percent of the total harvest every year, while hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers are left with the remaining 49 percent.

To emphasize the point on reallocation, CCA commissioned an economic study by Gentner Consulting Group in 2009 that revealed the maximum economic value of the Gulf grouper fishery would be achieved by a significant shift of the allocation to the recreational sector. The study, conducted by Brad Gentner, who ran the recreational economics data collection program for the National Marine Fisheries Service for eight years before starting his own company, showed the fishery would yield far more jobs and economic output from a greater recreational allocation.

“CCA has always advocated that the fishery management councils look at how they want these fisheries to look in the future, instead of reflecting an outdated past based on catch histories,” said Brewer. “There is a lot of hard work still to be done, but this is a very encouraging sign that federal fisheries managers are finally willing to work on a forward-leaning management philosophy. It could be the answer to a lot of the problems anglers are seeing in the Gulf and elsewhere.”

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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.

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Recreational sector stands united against sector separation

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.”

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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.

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Fisheries managers take huge step toward righting allocations

Anglers applaud precedent-setting move to examine outdated allocation for scup

CHARLESTON, SCThe Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee met jointly today, and in response to a request from Coastal Conservation Association voted to begin an analysis of the scup fishery to determine whether a modification of the current allocation is needed. The current scup allocation, set back in the 1990s, gives 78 percent of the resource to the commercial sector, leaving only 22 percent available for public access. The analysis commissioned today will look at current economic/social/biological aspects of the fishery, which will be used to determine the proper allocation.

“This is a precedent-setting development, and managers should be commended for taking the first steps to reallocating a fishery based on relevant current factors rather than outdated historical catches,” said Richen Brame, director of CCA’s Atlantic Fisheries Committee. “Demographics change, economics change, everything changes, but fisheries allocations have been frozen in time for decades. CCA has long called for federal managers to conduct this type of analysis for every fishery to determine where the greatest economic and conservation benefits lie today.”

CCA raised the issue of scup reallocation during the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in August, citing a suggestion from the Council’s own Scup Monitoring Committee. Commercial fishing interests immediately objected to revisiting the allocation issue and a motion recommending that the National Marine Fisheries Service conduct an economic study to determine the optimum allocation was indefinitely tabled. At the request of one Council member, however, the matter was finally referred to a Council committee for further consideration.

“For years, CCA has made the rebuilding of depleted stocks such as scup our first priority.  Now, with the stock at 170 percent of target levels, it is time to assure that the public has adequate access to this public resource, and that the great majority of the fish aren’t reserved for the private profit of a handful of individuals,” said Charles A. Witek, chairman of CCA’s Atlantic States Fisheries Committee. “The lopsided allocation, which grants the public a mere 22 percent of overall landings, is a travesty that must be remedied.”

“This is the first time that I can recall a fishery management council seeking economic information to determine the allocation for a fishery,” said Brad Gentner, president of Gentner Consulting Group which conducts economic studies of various marine fisheries. “We have often produced economic studies for various clients, including CCA, to make cases for reallocation, but this is dramatic shift for a Council to begin this process on its own.”

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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.

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Fisheries Allocations Still Out of Whack

Scup is latest in long line of allocations that shortchange recreational sector

While the news from the most recent Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council meeting indicated a rosy future for scup, the Council’s failure to seek an economic study of the way scup are allocated between the recreational and commercial sectors presages a far dimmer future for scup anglers.

After approving a 41 percent increase in total allowable catch for 2011, a move that was fully justified by the science and welcomed by the recreational community, the Council began a preliminary discussion on revisiting the allocation issue, as was suggested by the Council’s own Scup Monitoring Committee. Commercial fishing interests immediately assailed Council members for raising the issue, and an acrimonious, hour- long debate, described as “really ugly” by one of the seated Council members, ensued. Ultimately, a motion recommending that the National Marine Fisheries Service conduct an economic study in order to determine the optimum allocation was indefinitely tabled. At the request of one Council member, the matter was finally referred to a Council committee for further consideration.

“The Council is allowing the scup fishery to follow the same disturbing path followed by summer flounder,” said Richen Brame, CCA’s Atlantic States Fisheries director. “The allocations for these fisheries have been frozen in time even though the fisheries themselves have evolved. The Council should be leading the charge for an economic study to determine where the greatest benefit from this fishery lies today, and not hiding from the fact that conditions change.”

Up until 2006, allocations for various fisheries were set using an awkward, backward-looking system that arbitrarily selected landings records from a time frame as short as three or four years, and allocated the fishery going forward based on that snapshot. The system often produced wildly skewed allocations that were never revisited, prompting the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2006 to include a requirement directing the management councils to review allocations periodically using, among other criteria, economic studies to determine the where the greatest value of the fishery lies.

The current scup allocation, set back in the 1990s, gives 78 percent of the resource to the commercial sector, leaving only 22 percent available for public access. As a result of fisheries managers’ success in rebuilding the stock, there is fear that increased landings will push down the price paid to commercial fishermen, while recreational fishermen still suffer under the strictest regulations in history.

“The Council should be proud that its conservative management has made scup a fishery success story. They have done a wonderful job here,” said Charles Witek, Chair of CCA’s Atlantic States Fisheries Committee. “What possible harm could a rigorous economic evaluation of the recreational and commercial scup fisheries do? Such information is currently required for proper management. The recreational community is asking that the Council fulfill all of its obligations, and forge ahead with an economic study that will free scup allocations from the shackles of the past, and shape a fishery that will provide the greatest benefits in the future.”

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Reallocation Is the Answer

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.

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Council action on Gulf red snapper signals need for reallocation

Shortened recreational season brings allocation issue to the forefront

Recreational anglers were cheered earlier this year by news that after decades of federal management, culminating with a two-fish bag limit and a 74-day season in 2009, scientists suddenly announced that the Gulf red snapper stock is no longer undergoing overfishing, which is a significant step on the road to recovery.

However, the reward for decades of sacrifice announced at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting this week is a good news/bad news scenario for recreational anglers who will see their quota increase to about 3.4 million pounds in 2010, from 2.5 million pounds in 2009, but will also see their season shrink by at least two weeks.

“Thanks to a combination of factors, including significant bycatch reduction measures for the shrimp fleet, the stock is improving,” said Dr. Russell Nelson, CCA Gulf Fisheries consultant. “But clearly the Council now needs to take into account the problems caused by the increasing average size of the fish being caught and take a long overdue look at reallocation.”

Even with a recovering stock, the hundreds of thousands of anglers pursuing red snapper in the Gulf are still left with just 49 percent of the total allowable catch, 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.

“Based on current data and from reports by recreational fisherman themselves, it appears that we have a strongly recovering red snapper fishery with larger fish being taken by recreational anglers which tend to skew the data on the pounds of fish being caught by recreational fishermen,” said Tim Strickland, chairman of CCA’s Gulf Fisheries Committee. “The inequitable result being proposed is the shortest season ever for recreational fishermen in 2010.”

CCA has long called for reallocation of fisheries where appropriate based on an economic analysis to provide the greatest economic benefit to the country.

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