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Ted Venker
Conservation Director
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.

Read more: Catch share programs going down the wrong track

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.

Read more: Letter requests corrected economic numbers

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.

Read more: The Road Once Taken

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.”

Read more: Federal management of Gulf red snapper grinds to historic low

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.”

Read more: Ruling against recreational angling confirms federal fisheries management system broken

Coastal Conservation Association of Florida (CCA) will host its inaugural Day on the Hill at the Capitol building courtyard during Florida’s Legislative Session on March 20, 2014. CCA Florida is a statewide, non‐profit marine organization working to protect the state's marine resources and the interests of saltwater anglers. Comprised of 31 local chapters from Pensacola to the Keys, we support strong, resource‐based law enforcement, access to the resource for recreational fishing, and strong, fairly‐balanced regulations to protect state and federal fish stocks. CCA Florida is part of the Coastal Conservation Association a National organization with 100,000 members.


Snapper Briefing

[readon url="https://www.ccaflorida.org/docs/Snapper_Briefing02282014_WEB.pdf" target="_blank"]Download Briefing PDF[/readon]

The Coastal Conservation Association-FL (“CCA”) is pleased to submit its comments to the Supplement Draft General Management Plan and specifically to the Preferred Alternative, the Alternative 6. CCA has been involved in this process for over ten (10) years and its local members have actively participated in the process. Many of CCA’s members have been lifelong users of the park and were active in this process. It is from that background that these comments are made.

CCA was formed to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources and its objective is to conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of those coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. CCA is the largest organization of its kind in the United States and has over 100,000 members with almost 10,000 located in the State of Florida. Many of CCA’s members, both local and from other states enjoy fishing in Florida and especially in the waters of Biscayne National Park.

Recreational fishing in Florida is a multi-billion dollar industry and its value to the State exceeds that of citrus. Recreational fishing not only is a significant economic engine, but it provides good wholesome activities for families and people of all backgrounds. Its social impact can’t be underestimated. The Park is situated in the sportfishing and arguably the boating capital of America.

Read more: BNP Comments - Feb 2014