FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Tuesday, June 2, 2015
CONTACT: Jeff Angers, 225-931-9700
Washington (June 2, 2015) – A coalition of organizations representing the saltwater recreational fishing and boating community congratulated the U.S. House of Representatives on its passage of H.R. 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary statute governing the nation’s marine fisheries.
House Committee member helps derail state management amendment
WASHINGTON, DC - Legislation to transfer management of Gulf red snapper away from the federal government and allow the Gulf States to manage the fishery entirely was narrowly rejected last week during a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee. The state management amendment was one of many being considered by the Committee during the mark up of HR 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson Stevens Act sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).
With the support of the Chairman of the Committee and the sponsor of the bill, the state management amendment was offered by Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.) to implement the recommendations of the five Gulf state directors to bring an innovative solution to the long-standing chaos of federal red snapper management. Unfortunately, in negotiations leading up to the vote and even during the hearing itself, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) vigorously opposed the state management amendment and promoted his own amendment that will tweak some aspects of snapper management but will ultimately maintain it under federal control and lock in status quo for the fishery.
Coastal Conservation Association announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against implementation of Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Also known as “sector separation,” the amendment is a highly controversial management plan for red snapper that takes a significant percentage of the recreational quota and reserves it solely for use by the charter/for-hire industry.
“Amendment 40 embodies everything that is wrong with federal management of our marine resources. It is completely out of step with this nation’s heritage of wildlife resource management,” said Bill Bird, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “It has been overwhelmingly opposed at every step in the process, but a very small minority has been allowed to manipulate the system to their personal advantage.”
Dr. Steve Branstetter,
NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
Dear Dr. Branstetter,
The Coastal Conservation Association is opposed to the exempted fishing permit (EFP) application filed by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to allow Mississippi-licensed for-hire vessels to harvest and possess Red Drum from federal waters during the course of regular for-hire fishing trips. The application states that the EFP’s purpose is to collect biological information on offshore Red Drum to aid biologists in assessing the status of the population in a future stock assessment. Information already available to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and to NOAA Fisheries shows this EFP will not achieve the stated scientific goals, and that it should be rejected.
Very clear scientific goals were established at the Special Red Drum Workgroup in July 2014 - none of which are addressed by this proposal. The workshop was requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to determine what information was available and what was needed to develop a stock assessment on Red Drum. The workshop was attended by members of the Gulf Council’s Science and Statistical Committee, key members of the Council’s Red Drum Committee, and other experts from around the Gulf of Mexico. The workshop determined that “fishery-dependent" data (such as those collected by fishermen and those that would be collected by this EFP) were already more than adequately represented for each state.
The federal government's management of Gulf fisheries has created some of the most chaotic, dysfunctional and unsatisfactory fisheries in the country, and now it seems that the agency is set on bringing that same experience to our red drum fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA Fisheries is currently seeking comment on a two-year plan to allow harvest of breeding-size red drum in federal waters for the first time in decades. Through the use of an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP), a tool that has been intentionally misused repeatedly to circumvent regular management procedures and skirt public opinion, Mississippi for-hire vessels would be allowed to target 30,000 pounds of over-sized red drum to collect "scientific data" on the stock.
Representing this EFP as a science tool is grossly misleading and inaccurate.