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Commercial Fishing Collaborative withdraws permit application for catch shares

JEKYLL ISLAND, GEORGIA - A controversial exempted fishing permit (EFP) to initiate a commercial privatization program for at least six species of fish in the South Atlantic was shelved this week after widespread public outcry. The announcement that the South Atlantic Commercial Fishing Collaborative, made up of two sitting Council members and one former member, were withdrawing the EFP was made at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Jekyll Island, Georgia.

“Public sentiment against this EFP was overwhelming, which shows that the angling public is very much aware of these privatization schemes and they’ve had enough of them,” said Bill Bird, chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “There should be no place for privatization of our public marine resources in the federal fisheries management system, but our fear is that this EFP will be retooled and reintroduced in the future when the noise dies down. Anglers in the South Atlantic will have to remain vigilant.”

Read more: Fish grab scheme put on hold in South Atlantic

How manipulation and corruption are making a mockery of federal fisheries management
 
By Jeff Angers   
 
This question often comes up in discussions about the federal fisheries management process: Why are people who profit from the harvest and sale of America’s marine resources allowed to sit on management bodies that make regulations governing those resources?
 
It’s a good question.
 
The most contentious issue in the Gulf of Mexico is privatization of the red snapper fishery in which millions of dollars’ worth of a public resource was gifted to select commercial operators to harvest for their own personal profit. Gifted, for free. Yet, someone who owns red snapper shares can sit on the Gulf Council and vote on every aspect of that fishery. And one does…. Click Here for the rest of the article.

By Jeff Angers, Sport Fishing magazine

 

The chaos characterizing Gulf of Mexico fisheries laws is poised to infect South Atlantic waters without executive-level intervention.

Gag grouper are just one of the popular sport-fish species that may become part of a new "giveaway" in the Atlantic.
Chaos reigns in marine fisheries management thanks to a federal agency that advocates for private ownership of America’s public resources.
 
The alarming investigative series “Hooked Up” (Fox8/New Orleans) dug deep into the muck of the controversial giveaway of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the stage is being set to export this swamp to the South Atlantic for at least six species – blueline tilefish, gag grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, the jacks complex and vermilion snapper.
 
A group calling itself the South Atlantic Commercial Fishing Collaborative is using the oft-abused federal Exempted Fishing Permit process…… Click here for the rest of the story

Legislation clarifies intent of Pacific billfish conservation measures


WASHINGTON, DC (February 16, 2017) – Conservationists and anglers are praising a bill filed yesterday by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that seeks to clear the way for full implementation of a landmark law to raise protections for billfish. The Billfish Conservation Act (BCA) was lauded when it was signed into law in 2012, but a slight ambiguity in the wording of the original legislation prevented it from being implemented as intended by the federal government.

“IGFA has been devoted to the success of the Billfish Conservation Act from the beginning, and we are hopeful that the action of Senators Nelson, Rubio, Manchin and Moran will close the continental U.S market for billfish once and for all," said Rob Kramer, president of the International Game Fish Association. “On behalf of the millions of saltwater recreational anglers, thank you for working to ensure the United States is the leader in billfish conservation."

Read more: Senators Weigh in on Billfish Conservation Act

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.”

Read more: CCA applauds Congressman Graves’ efforts on behalf of recreational anglers

A last-minute decree from the Obama Administration to phase out the use of traditional fishing tackle in waters under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drawn the ire of the recreational angling community. Filed on the day before President Obama left office, Director’s Order No. 219 will require the use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle to the fullest extent practicable for all activities on Service lands, waters and facilities by January 2022, except as needed for law enforcement or health and safety uses, as provided for in policy.
 
Coastal Conservation Association is joining partners in the recreational angling, boating and tackle community to call on new leadership at the Service to rescind Order No. 219 and work to develop instead a science-driven policy with input from stakeholders.
 

Read more: Last-Minute Lead Tackle Ban Shocks Angling Community

The linked editorial below is from Jeff Angers with the Center for Sportfishing Policy and has been published on the Sport Fishing Magazine web site. It is a call for President Trump to take this opportunity to break from the past and appoint people in the federal fisheries management leadership structure who understand recreational fisheries. It clearly articulates what anglers expect and we encourage you to share it with your state chapter membership:
Anglers Call on Trump to Deliver
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and staff are to be commended for proposing innovative measures for red snapper management in the Atlantic.  Under the current restraints on this fishery, without a fresh look at management options it is unlikely a season for red snapper would open in the foreseeable future.  We appreciate their efforts and the opportunity to comment on the scoping phase of Amendment 43.

One of the fundamental problems with red snapper is the large number of estimated dead discards, which are literally overwhelming the allowable mortality.  The discards are preventing any chance of opening a season for red snapper harvest. Few, if any, of the suggested management options in this scoping document would matter unless and until the number of dead discards is reduced.  However, the first thing that must be done is verify that the current estimate of discards is accurate.  We hope the Council, as a first step, would have the Science and Statistical Committee re-examine the current discard mortality estimate to ensure it is the best and most current estimate.  

Read more: Coastal Conservation Association Comments on South Atlantic Fishery Management Council...