Guest commentary: Gulf fishery manangement a huge mess
The Baton Rouge Advocate
By David Cresson, Aug. 28, 2014
The Gulf red snapper fishery is a mess. Bob Shipp, the respected marine scientist with the University of South Alabama, recently retired from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council after serving two nine-year terms. After 18 years of grappling with counterintuitive and misguided federal policies, Shipp said in an article last week that Gulf red snapper is the worst-managed fishery in the United States and should be handed over to the states to manage from a fresh start.
That is a significant statement, and it explains a great deal of the concern and frustration of the recreational angling community over continued efforts by a select few businesses in the Gulf to profit by this chaos. The federal system that is in place to manage recreational angling is completely inadequate. It produced a nine-day recreational red snapper season in 2014, set against perhaps the healthiest red snapper stock the Gulf has ever seen. At the same time, more than half the fishery is literally owned by less than 400 select commercial businesses.
Amendment 40, a management measure known as sector separation that is under consideration by the council, is seeking to assign additional ownership privileges out of the recreational quota to select charter/for-hire operators. Ultimately, more than 75 percent of the entire red snapper fishery is likely to end up privately owned in some form or fashion.
Vitter Urges Gulf Council to Table Divisive Red Snapper Proposal
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council public hearing this week, during which they will consider a proposal to divide the recreational red snapper sector, further partitioning the annual fishery allocations.
“The option they want to consider is a painfully obvious attempt to disenfranchise the recreational sector in favor of the desires of a New York based environmental activist group to end public access to the red snapper fishery,” said Vitter. “The public has already made it clear that they do not support it and it’s not a good idea, and so I urge the Gulf Council to immediately end any consideration of this amendment to support what the Gulf fishermen want.”
Gulf fishing authority says red-snapper fix is easy
By Todd Masson, nola.com
Dr. Bob Shipp is THE authority on Gulf of Mexico red snapper. He recently retired after serving the last 20 years as chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama, and he also served two nine-year stints on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the board responsible for making recommendations to NOAA Fisheries about how federal Gulf fisheries are to be managed. During his time on the council, Shipp served as chairman on three separate occasions.
A New Orleans native -- he graduated from Jesuit High School in 1960 -- Shipp is the author of Dr. Bob Shipp's Guide to Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, the authoritative resource for anglers from the Rio Grande to Key West.
In an interview with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, Shipp laid out the problems with the way red snapper are managed and what the solutions are.
CCA Comments on Amendment 40
CCA released their comments on Amendment 40. Click here for the latest
Chaos reigns at Gulf Council - Gulf Council’s own Red Snapper Advisory Panel rejects sector separation
TAMPA, FL (7-30-14) – Even as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council fast-tracks a highly controversial plan to break the recreational red snapper fishery into private boat anglers and charter/for-hire operators, the Council’s own Red Snapper Advisory Panel voted today to reject the concept entirely.
The Advisory Panel’s recommendations are non-binding and it remains uncertain what impact, if any, the panel’s decision will ultimately have on the Gulf Council’s deliberations. The vote by a panel comprised of three charter/for-hire representatives, four private recreational anglers, two commercial fishermen, one representative of the Environmental Defense Fund and one academic would seem to signal that the concept of sector separation needs much greater scrutiny, even as public hearings are set to kick off next week on Amendment 40 – Sector Separation.
“It seems clear that there are forces at work here trying to ram this separation scheme through the process as fast as possible to take advantage of all the confusion and frustration over federal management of red snapper,” said Bill Bird, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “The Council spent the last 18 months on an amendment to reallocate the red snapper fishery between the commercial and recreational sectors, and then decided rather suddenly to shelve it. Then they fast-tracked this amendment to create a whole new sector in just a few weeks, but their own advisory panel doesn’t support it. This is just pure chaos.”
Take a Stand against Amendment 40 on August 18th in Baton Rouge
If Amendment 40 passes, it is likely that up to 75 percent of the entire Gulf red snapper fishery will be privately held, for private profit.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has scheduled a series of public hearings over the next few weeks on a dangerous privatization scheme for Gulf red snapper. The next meeting in the Baton Rouge area will be on August 18th at 6PM at the Hyatt Place Baton Rouge Hotel.
Reef Fish Amendment 40 - Sector Separation proposes to separate charter/for-hire businesses from the recreational sector and give personalized allotments of red snapper to use as their own.
The concept has been cast as a reasonable response to a broken federal management system, but it is a perilous development for recreational angling as it represents a huge step in the privatization of our fisheries.
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