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Press Releases

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     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2012                                           CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH

 

Congress weighs in on Gulf Councils sector separation scheme

Sportsmens Caucus urges Council to step back from unpopular catch shares, sector separation

WASHINGTON, DC – In another sign of discontent over federal management of the nations marine fisheries, co-chairmen of the Congressional Sportsmens Caucus (CSC) have sent a letter to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council expressing the concerns of its membership over the concepts of catch share programs and sector separation. The bipartisan CSC is one of the largest and most effective caucuses in the US Congress with more than 300 members representing almost all 50 states.

“As leaders of the Caucus, we are writing to report that continued consideration and promotion of the management concepts known as sector separation and catch shares by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are causing concern among our members,”  CSC co-chairmen Jeff Miller (R-Fl.) and Mike Ross (D-Ar.) state in the letter. “More specifically, we have serious concerns about the current proposal to further subdivide the recreational fishing allocation by awarding the charter boats with their own guaranteed allocation.”

The CSC goes on to question the process the Gulf Council is using to develop and implement sector separation and catch share programs, and points out that the Council first needs better scientific data, additional economic evaluations and demographic studies to assess how mixed used fisheries would best be reallocated.

“Even if such reallocation issues were analyzed and modified, taking a portion of the allocation from the recreational sector for the proposed charter boat sector has the potential to decrease the funding available for state fisheries management,” the CSC states. “The members of the Caucus are well acquainted with the successes of state-based conservation, which is almost entirely guided and funded by sportsmen and the money they spend on fishing and hunting. The sportsmens ethic of stewardship is at the heart of the American System of Conservation Funding and is built, in part, on the foundation of individual anglers recreational fishing activities.”

The letter from the CSC is yet another unequivocal message from elected officials to federal fishery managers in opposition to sector separation and catch share programs. In 2009, four Gulf state governors wrote a letter stating their opposition to catch shares and Congress has passed amendments cutting funding for such programs.

“We hope the members of the Gulf Council are listening because the message from Governors, Congressmen, and the recreational angling community is quite clear – privatizing public wildlife resources through sector separation and catch shares is the wrong direction,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of Coastal Conservation Associations National Government Relations Committee. “If the Council and NOAA Fisheries continue to ignore this message, then that should be interpreted as yet more evidence that the federal management system is broken and Congress should engage to either rein in a federal agency that has lost its way or explore a completely new paradigm for managing the nations marine resources.”

To see the full letter from the Congressional Sportsmens Caucus, click HERE.

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6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.      Website: www.joincca.org

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2012                                           CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH

 
Twenty Congressmen join call for moratorium on rig removals
 Efforts to save marine habitat gain support from across the country

 

WASHINGTON, DC – A letter from the Congressional Sportsmens Caucus (CSC) to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar calling for a moratorium on rig removals due to the federal governments Idle Iron policy will carry the signatures of 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, an impressive bi-partisan display of concern for marine habitat in the Gulf of Mexico.

“As leaders and members of the Congressional Sportsmens Caucus, we are concerned that the Idle Iron guidance issued by the Department of Interior in October of 2010 is having an adverse impact on critical marine habitat in the Gulf of Mexico,” states the letter, signed by Representatives from 10 states. “We request that your Department enact a temporary moratorium on the removal of structures related to that Directive until a stakeholder process can be developed to determine both the best methods to properly dismantle rigs that have cause to be removed, and to protect those structures that are shown to harbor thriving marine ecosystems.”

In response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the U.S. Department of Interior issued the Idle Iron directive which resulted in a policy that will ultimately force removal of any rigs, platforms or associated structures from non-producing wells. Coastal Conservation Association and other groups have argued that the structures are the basis for thriving ecosystems that sustain an immense diversity of life, and have called for a thorough evaluation to be developed before any removal decisions are made. CCA worked with CSC and with Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) on this most recent call for a moratorium on the Idle Iron policy to develop that process. Rep. Palazzo presented the concerns of the recreational angling community at a briefing hosted by the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation in June where he also invited fellow members of the Caucus to sign onto the letter to Secretary Salazar.

“Sportsmen know the value of habitat. We know how hard it is to create it and we know how easy it is to lose it,” said Rep. Palazzo. “We cannot sit idly by while marine habitat in the Gulf is destroyed by a policy that clearly needs more consideration. The Idle Iron issue may seem complex, but at the end of the day we would be wise to protect these habitats.”

The letter from the CSC is the latest in a string of efforts that CCA has worked on and supported to derail the Policy, including the Rigs to Reefs Habitat Protection Act filed in 2011 by U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and the companion bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Palazzo; language implementing strict review and reporting requirements on removals in the Sportsmens Act of 2012; the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils decision to begin the process of classifying rigs and other vital artificial reefs as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), and letters from both Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to Secretary Salazar urging him to reconsider the policy. In June, a coalition of marine conservation, tackle and boating industry groups called for a halt to the Idle Iron policy in a letter to Secretary Salazar, citing the irreparable damage it stands to inflict on an extensive range of marine fisheries and ecosystems. Additionally, the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council, an 18-member committee established to provide input to the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on recreational boating and fishing issues and aquatic resource conservation issues, sent a letter to Secretary Salazar calling for a two-year moratorium on rig removals.

“We are grateful to all the elected officials who share our concern for this marine habitat and are willing to fight against arbitrarily dismantling the largest artificial reef system in the world,” said Pat Murray, president of CCA. “The entire issue of platform removals needs a much more thorough review given the incredible habitat at stake. Political leaders and experts from across the spectrum have voiced serious concerns about the impacts of the Idle Iron directive and are demanding a more reasoned process to evaluate these structures.”

For a copy of the CSC letter click HERE, and to learn more about the issue of these artificial reefs and their impact on the marine environment visit the CCA Rigs to Reefs page.

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Florida Saltwater Fishing Panel

Data... it runs the world. Everyone needs accurate and up to date data to run a business and make decisions. It is no different for fisheries managers that create the fishing regulations that we abide by, which is why Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Recreational Marine Research Center at Michigan State University have developed the Florida Saltwater Fishing Panel. This panel will help aide the researchers in learning more about recreational fishing and the economic benefits gained from the recreational fisherman in Florida.  

Many of you received an email within the last week regarding this panel that included a link to a registration page, and some of you have already signed on to participate. The panel is open to anyone that possesses a valid Florida Saltwater Fishing License or Persons with Disabilities Resident Hunting and Fishing License, as well as exempt residents age 65 and older. “FWC is excited about the partnership with Michigan State University and the new opportunities that present themselves to us and all fisheries managers,” said Nick Wiley, FWC Executive Director. “The Florida Saltwater Fishing Panel brings a new and exciting aspect to recreational fishing data collection.” A panel member will be asked to complete a 10-15 minute web based survey once a month for a one year period. While most of each survey will focus on the anglers last saltwater fishing trip in Florida during the previous month, surveys may also include questions about current or proposed fishing regulations, licenses, conservation of fish stocks and management effectiveness.

All panel members will receive a coupon from West Marine for each monthly survey they complete. Participants will also have the opportunity to review summary results from the monthly surveys. “I urge all CCA members, their family, and friends to take part in this saltwater fishing panel,” said Jeff Miller, CCA Florida Chairman. “Joining the panel and completing the survey helps show the economic impact the recreational fishermen have here in the state of Florida. It helps show the fisheries managers that allocation of fish should not be based on past catch records but allocated solely on the economic impact from a fishing sector. Recreational fishermen deserve more and here is a perfect opportunity to do your part in fisheries data collection.”

All interested anglers must register by August 20th to receive the September survey. However, new members will be accepted throughout the duration of the panel. Please take a moment of your time and click here to do your part in giving back to a fishery you enjoy so much. For more information please contact Trip Aukeman CCA Florida Deputy Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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