Imagine a Gulf coast where recreational anglers suddenly saw a catch share initiative created for a few coastal fishing guides. Certain (not all) guides would be able to have a determined portion of a fishery and could sell opportunities to go fish for red drum…even if the fishery had been closed to the general private recreational angler. It is hard to think that recreational anglers who fought so hard to restore redfish stocks from the perils of gillnets, purse seines and the blackened redfish craze would now have a significant portion of the fishery given away to a handful of guides. Sound far-fetched?
The Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery is already in this brave new world of fisheries management. It is a fishery that could be almost completely privatized as soon as the end of this year and be held from that point forward by commercial fishing and private charter businesses using this public resource for profit. It is very likely, as soon as next season, private boat owners will not be allowed to venture into federal waters to catch a red snapper and bring it home.