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Press Releases

CCA Comments on Alabama EFP Request

July 16, 2014
Dr. Steve Branstetter
Southeast Regional Office
NMFS
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Dear Dr. Branstetter,

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for the Alabama For-Hire red snapper fishery, which has been extensively debated by the Gulf Council. We feel compelled to note that the Council’s Reef Fish Committee originally voted 5-4 to recommend that NOAA Fisheries deny this permit. The vote of the full Council to overturn the Committee’s recommendation shows the level of disagreement and controversy related to managing this troubled fishery by exempted fishing permit.

The nine-day recreational season for red snapper in 2014 was a convoluted product of a flawed federal law, outdated allocations and inappropriate management tools for the recreational sector. It was, however, ideal for creating the conditions for some charter/for-hire operators to be receptive to the lure of individual fishing quota programs for that industry. We have noted the careful avoidance of promoting this and other similar schemes as catch share programs, but that is certainly what they are, and we question whether the larger for-hire industry has been made fully aware of the inevitable economic outcome. Since catch share programs are expressly designed to reduce capacity, we are opposed to such programs in the recreational sector since they reduce access to red snapper.  In addition, it is very possible that for-hire operators who feel compelled by current circumstances to favor this course of action today could find themselves out of the fishery entirely within just a few years. This aspect of IFQ programs should be emphasized by Council staff at least as energetically as the possible benefits for the select few winners.

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A Brave New World

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.

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COURT UPHOLDS FLORIDA’S NET BAN

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                               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                          For More Information:

 

                                 July 7, 2014                                                                                                                           Ted Forsgren 407-702-3567


 

COURT UPHOLDS FLORIDA’S NET BAN

 

Today, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion upholding the net ban amendment…again. CCA Florida once again led the charge to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations implementing the Constitutional Amendment that was passed by 72% of the voters in 1994.

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