It is not unusual for veterans of federal fishery management to marvel at the vastly different personalities of the various fishery management councils across the nation. Each region has its own distinct style of operation, and the New England Fishery Management Council has arguably held the title of most contentious arena given that region’s repeated groundfish disasters. However, an argument can be made of late that nothing compares to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
A crucial vote on a highly controversial management measure for Gulf red snapper is scheduled for next week during the Gulf Council's meeting in Mobile. Known as Amendment 40 - Sector Separation, it is a radical departure from traditional management methods that will allow a broken management system to stay in place for most recreational anglers, and grant special access privileges to a select group of charter/for-hire operators.
CCA Florida opposes the Indian River County Commissions proposed expansion of the boat ramp at Oslo Road. The best science available clearly shows that the area adjacent to this dredge and filled project is critical fish habitat, acting as a nursery to juvenile tarpon, snook, trout and redfish. In light of the fragile state of the Indian River Lagoon, the extensive loss of vital sea grasses in recent years and the proximity of other available access points, it makes no sense to risk the loss of what appears to be the last, best chance of recovery of this national treasure.
Recreational anglers across the Gulf Coast are letting it be known that they are not happy with the direction of red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico, as a monumental vote on the future of the fishery looms next week at a federal fishery management meeting in Mobile, Alabama. In this latest round of comments, more than 1,000 anglers have sent messages to members of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in just the last three days asking them to focus on ensuring fair management of Gulf red snapper for everyone and not just select individuals. Since introduction, this misguided proposal has elicited thousands of comments in opposition.
Please see the below letter from CCA Alabama Chairman Russell Cunningham:
GULF COUNCIL MEETING SET FOR MOBILE, AL - FINAL ACTION ON AMENDMENT 40 -
VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION TO THE ADOPTION OF AMENDMENT 40!
The Gulf Fisheries Management Council (the "Gulf Council") will be meeting in Mobile, Alabama on Monday, October 20, 2014 through Friday, October 24, 2014. The meetings will be held at the Renaissance Battle House at 26 North Royal Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602. The Gulf Council will be considering several important items, including Amendment 39 (regional management of red snapper), Amendment 40 (gives a share of the recreational snapper catch to charter fishermen), and Amendment 28 (red snapper allocation between recreational and commercial fishermen). The Gulf Council is scheduled to take final action on Amendment 40 at its Mobile, Alabama meetings.
Federal management of red snapper is a mess - it has failed recreational anglers and the charter/for-hire industry alike.
Rather than fix the flawed management system, an effort to privatize up to 75 percent of the fishery is being promoted by commercial fishermen and a select few charter/for-hire operators. They are seeking to take advantage of this chaos and ensure that most of this fishery is privately held by a few individuals, for their private use. The rest of us face the prospect of a one-day snapper season in federal waters in 2015.