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Louisiana representative takes on corrupt federal fisheries privatization program


Already well-known for his leadership on legislation to move management of the troubled Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery to the states, Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves is now playing a leading role in an unflinching critique of the federal government’s efforts to privatize Gulf fisheries for a select few commercial harvesters in a five-part investigative series by Fox8/New Orleans.

“If you watch this series you know that the forces trying to take over public marine resources like red snapper for their own are not afraid to target and take down any politician who opposes them,” said Bill Bird, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “That makes what Rep. Graves is doing by standing up to this corrupt system even more admirable. Recreational anglers and the public at large owe him their utmost support as he leads this charge.”

In his investigative report, “Hooked Up,” Fox8’s Lee Zurick digs into the immense transfer of public wealth to private hands – for free – that is occurring in the nation’s federal fisheries over the objections of the angling public and even the Gulf states. The Sea Lords, as the commercial shareholders have come to be known, are earning millions of dollars on gifted red snapper. Many of them do not even fish anymore, but are leasing their fish to others to catch for them.  As the investigation reveals, many of the Sea Lords take the considerable spoils from this scheme and plow them back into campaign contributions to Members of Congress to protect their scheme.

“It takes courage to shine a spotlight on this flawed system as Congressman Graves is doing,” said Bird. “This is a high-stakes political battle with a very well-funded and entrenched foe that will stop at nothing to keep what they have been gifted. We encourage Congress to follow Graves’ lead and make every effort to eliminate this flawed program in the Gulf.”