Washington, D.C. – June 26, 2014 – After significant objection from the recreational fishing and boating community, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has taken steps to correct a key fisheries economics report that misleadingly indicated that the domestic commercial fishing industry in the United States was significantly larger than the recreational fishing industry. When imported seafood, which is not regulated or managed by NMFS, is removed from the equation, the corrected data show that the recreational fishing industry is actually $7.9 billion dollars larger than the commercial fishing industry. Furthermore, the corrected data show that the domestic commercial fishing industry actually decreased by $2.3 billion in 2012.
“When seafood imports, industrial species, shellfish and fish that aren’t caught by recreational anglers are removed, recreational fishing generates $33.3 billion dollars more than their commercial counterparts while taking far fewer pounds of fish,” said Ted Venker, Conservation director for the Coastal Conservation Association. “That is the apple-to-apples number that needs to be considered when we are talking about management decisions that impact domestic fisheries, and it is important that NOAA corrected the data.”
For More Information Contact
Ted Forsgren 407-702-3567
On May 15 the First District Court of Appeals heard arguments on a local judge’s ruling that overturns Florida’s 20 year old Constitutional Amendment limiting marine net fishing. The three judge panel questioned lawyers representing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Wakulla Fisherman’s Association. The Court’s ruling will likely come between July and August 2014.
Red Grouper: Another example of how NOT to manage a recreational fishery
The current recreational fishery data collection system estimates the harvest based on a survey of anglers, much the same as has been done successfully for decades in freshwater fisheries and wildlife. There is a lag time between the harvest and the resulting estimate of the total harvest of the species. That is the reality of recreational fisheries management - it simply is not a system set up to monitor harvest in real-time.
It is well known that recreational fisheries respond to the abundance of fish. That is, as abundance increases, so generally will the recreational catch. The opposite is also true; as abundance decreases so does the recreational catch. Unlike commercial fisheries, there is no economic incentive that drives fishing effort. Thus, knowing the current abundance of a population is critical, or at least having some estimate of the number of fish recruiting into the fishery each year. Unfortunately, in the Gulf of Mexico we currently have neither for red grouper.
Coastal Conservation Association
Catch share programs have been promoted as a panacea to many fishery management challenges, but close scrutiny of these programs shows they create far more problems than they solve. Putting ownership of a wildlife resource into the hands of a private business for its own profit is a dramatic departure from the way this country has traditionally managed wildlife resources. Congressman Steve Southerland is right to question if this is a path the country should take. The end result of catch share programs is what we are seeing in the Gulf of Mexico today, with a very few, select commercial shareholders wielding a disproportionate level of power and enjoying a year-round red snapper season, while the public is left with just an 11-day season to pursue this abundant and popular fish.
May 9, 2014
Secretary Penny Pritzker
U.S. Department ofCommerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Secretary Pritzker:
We respectfully request that the Department of Commerce issue a corrected “2012 Fisheries Economics of the United States” that separates imported seafood from domestic seafood.
In the “2011 Fisheries Economics of the United States,” as a result of the constructive engagement of industry, policy makers and researchers, the National Marine Fisheries Service split the economic impacts of the seafood industry into that portion supported by domestic seafood harvest and that portion attributable to imported seafood product. This is very important as imports generate the lion’s share of economic activity in this country. In 2011, only 40% of the total sales in the U.S. were generated by domestic harvest. In 2012, only 36% of total sales were generated by the domestic harvest of fish. Perhaps most importantly, the 2011 report provided more information. It provided the impacts generated by domestic harvest plus the additional impacts generated by the importation of seafood, and the report summed both for the total economic footprint of the seafood industry. Generally, more information is preferred to less by all users of this valuable report.
Imagine how different duck hunting would look today if 100 years ago the federal government had taken a page out of the current NOAA Fisheries playbook and decided to embrace and enhance the market hunters.
As the 100-pound barrels of birds rolled out of the Chesapeake, the Outer Banks and the Mississippi oxbows in the early 1900s, it would not be hard to imagine a bureaucrat deciding that the market hunters were providing a valuable source of “Protein for America”, a term of propaganda we hear so often today. It is much easier to understand how one could come to that conclusion in 1903 than it is today, when only thoroughly undeveloped countries are forced to exploit their wild natural resources to the fullest to feed their people.
Broken system produces 11-day season for recreational anglers
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA (4-11-2014) – The impact of a recent federal district court ruling in favor of commercial red snapper fishermen and seafood packers was driven home this week as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set the 2014 recreational red snapper season at just 11 days, the shortest season in the fishery’s history under management. The judge’s ruling was an indictment of federal data collection and management systems, but it will be recreational anglers who ultimately pay the price.
“This is what happens when common sense leaves the building and you blindly insist on managing recreational angling with the same system you designed exclusively to manage a few industrial fishing operations,” said Mark Ray, a vice chairman for Coastal Conservation Association which intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of recreational anglers’ interests. “Now the whole complex system is being mercilessly manipulated by the commercial industry and environmental groups to restrict access to these resources to fewer and fewer people. This is rock bottom – the fishery itself is in wonderful shape and anglers have an 11-day season in federal waters.”
HOUSTON, TX (3-27-2014) – In a case brought by commercial fishermen, seafood processors and trade groups closely associated with the Environmental Defense Fund, a federal district judge acknowledged this week that federal management of recreational anglers is deeply flawed and in need of overhaul. The lawsuit essentially challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s policy of setting hard quotas for the recreational sector without timely or reliable means to manage to such a standard.
“The judge ruled the only way she could given the realities of the federal fishery management system,” said Bill Bird, vice chairman of the National Government Relations Committee for the Coastal Conservation Association, which intervened on behalf of the interests of recreational anglers. “Under federal management, the rules of this fishery are designed exclusively to manage a few, elite commercial businesses seeking to profit from the sale of a public resource. While the plaintiffs simply intended this case to result in severe curtailment of the recreational sector, this decision also makes it abundantly clear that recreational anglers are at a dead end under federal management unless a solution can be found to suit their needs.”