6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
Florida Senators Join Call for Snapper Season Extension
Stretch of bad weather impacts already short Gulf red snapper season
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ A stubborn tropical system that impacted the eastern Gulf of Mexico for more than a week in late June put a significant dent in the shortest red snapper season on record and prompted Floridas two U.S. Senators to write a letter to the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requesting an extension to the season.
â€œWeve spoken at length about the red snapper fishery and its economic impact in the state of Florida. Fishing is more than a job in the Gulf of Mexico â€“ it is a way of life,â€ wrote Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. â€œShortened seasons, decreased bag limits, and closures severely impact these coastal communities. We urge you to ensure that fishermen arent unfairly disadvantaged by weather that is out of their control, and extend the red snapper season accordingly.â€
The request by Nelson and Rubio is accompanied by a similar letter from 17 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also seeking an extension of the season.
â€œYou cant do anything about the weather and even without a tropical system stirring things up, you can lose a lot of days out on the water just because of high wind and waves,â€ said Jeff Miller, chairman of CCA Florida and owner of Millers Boating Center in Ocala, Florida. â€œA 40-day season does not leave much margin for error, and to be kept off the water for a week or more really impacts this region economically. I am glad that our elected officials are keeping an eye on this and thank them for going to bat for us. Hopefully NOAA Fisheries is listening.â€
Compounding anglers frustration is mounting evidence that the snapper population is the healthiest it is been in recent history, with fishermen finding snapper in places they have never appeared before and catching the two-fish limit literally in minutes.
â€œYou cant get a bait past them if you can get out there,â€ said Miller. â€œBeyond the impact of this recent spate of bad weather, someone really needs to look at how we are managing this fishery. Im all for rebuilding the fishery and proceeding with caution, but the current regulations seem way behind the curve. This is a success story for fisheries management, but they are still clamping down on it like its a collapsed stock. It just doesnt make sense.â€
The 2012 red snapper season opened on June 1 and is scheduled to close around July 11. To see a copy of the Nelson/Rubio letter, click HERE.
6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
CCA applauds Idle Iron language in Sportsmens Act
Legislation takes valuable step in protecting marine habitat
As a result of consistent pressure and engagement by Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and its partners, language that begins to address the critical issue of Gulf rig and platform removals has been included in the Sportsmen's Act of 2012. Congressional Sportsman Caucus Chairs Senators Jon Tester (D-Mt) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240) this week.
â€œThere is an immediate need to halt these removals and CCA is actively working to put a moratorium in place,â€ said Pat Murray, president of CCA National. â€œAs part of that overall strategy, this legislation includes a new plan for the Department of Interior to send a report to Congress on how it is going to assess this critical habitat before indiscriminately ripping out these artificial reefs. Something has to be done to make the federal government realize it is making a horrible mistake destroying this valuable habitat.â€
In a misguided response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the U.S. Department of Interior issued the Idle Iron directive in October of 2010 ordering that all non-producing rigs and platforms be plugged and any remaining structure removed within five years of the issuance of that directive. Since then, CCA has worked on and supported a number of efforts to derail the negative impacts of the Idle Iron Policy, including the Rigs to Reefs Habitat Protection Act filed by U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Ms), the recent decision by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to begin the process of classifying rigs and other vital artificial reefs as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), and letters of opposition from Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to the Department of Interior. Earlier this week, CCA and a coalition of marine conservation, tackle and boating industry groups called for a moratorium on the Idle Iron Policy in a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar,
â€œInclusion of Idle Iron language in the Sportsmens Act is yet another step towards our goal and we are grateful to Senators Tester and Thune for including this section in the Sportsmens Package. It raises the visibility of an issue that is of great importance to recreational anglers,â€ said Murray.
Passage of the Sportsmens Act would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to coordinate with relevant federal and state agencies and accredited marine research institutes to assess the biodiversity and critical habitat present at platforms and related structures subject to removal, and assess the potential impacts of their removal. DOI would also have to develop a report on the potential impacts that the removal of those structures would have on the rebuilding plans for Gulf reef fish and habitat. Ultimately, the Secretary of Interior would also have to submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives a final report that includes a description of public comments from regional stakeholders, including recreational anglers, divers, offshore oil and gas companies, marine biologists, and commercial fisherman, as well as options to mitigate potential adverse impacts on marine habitat associated with that removal.
The Sportsmens Act of 2012 contains a number of other components beneficial to hunting and recreational fishing and shooting. In addition to the Idle Iron language, the Act also contains a section containing the Billfish Conservation Act and a section that specifically excludes ammo and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act.
6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
Economic studies make convincing case for reallocation
Mountain of evidence points to allocation increases for recreational anglers in the Gulf
With the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set to review allocations for Gulf red snapper and grouper during its meeting this week in Tampa, Coastal Conservation Association has presented a summary of 19 studies going back to 2000 that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater portion of the allocation of these two species to the recreational sector. All of the studies, conducted by private, academic and government scientists, have been presented to the Gulf Council previously and the Council has chosen to take no affirmative action.
"We're not talking about one or two studies, we're talking about an overwhelming body of work spanning more than a decade by some of the most respected economists in fisheries management," said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCAs National Government Relations Committee. "The best available economic science clearly supports increasing the recreational allocation. It is difficult to understand why NOAA Fisheries has not acted on these studies before now to produce the best possible outcome for the economies of the Gulf states and for the nation."
CCA supports basing allocations on modern economic and demographic criteria that reflect current and future realities for these fisheries rather than outdated catch histories. Management schemes that give away public resources through measure such as sector separation and catch shares lock-in outdated allocations to individual businesses, making those resources subsequently unavailable to respond to economic and demographic changes.
"We urge NOAA Fisheries to use the considerable economic information it has in hand to increase opportunities for the entire recreational sector, comprised of hundreds of thousands of anglers," said Brewer. "Recreational angling is an economic engine that should be enhanced during these tough economic times that are impacting every sector of our society. These 19 studies indicate that a relatively simple allocation shift would immediately produce economic benefits to anglers and the businesses that depend on them."
CCA supplied the summary of economic data to Gulf Council members and NOAA staff in a letter to Council Chairman Robert Gill and urged the Council to act on the information to look objectively towards maximizing the benefits generated for the entire nation by these valuable marine resources.