Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fishermen Sell Boats, Cut Inventory to Cope with Ban

Jennifer Lindgren Taren Reed Created: 12/28/2009 6:24:26 PM Updated: 12/28/2009 6:46:40 PM

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- In one week, there will be no more fishing for red snapper off the Southeast Atlantic coast. Already, those invested in the fishing industry are making changes to their businesses.

Read more.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Times They Are a-Changin' - by Nils Stolpe

Fishermen have finally concluded that it’s time for long overdue changes, and that the place to go is Congress.

It’s been a long time coming, but it appears as if a critical number of fishermen have finally reached the conclusion that the way things are heading, there’s not going to be an acceptable fishing future for any of us, that it’s time for some long overdue changes, and that the place to effect those changes is in Congress.

Read more.

Astounding new limits on black sea bass

By Mark Sampson • December 22, 2009

OCEAN CITY -- A few days ago, a bit of news came across my desk that was so shocking that I first assumed it had to be a fake. I spent a lot of time surfing different sites to make sure that what I was reading was true. Unfortunately, the story checked out.

Read more.

A letter from Charlie Crist

Thank you for contacting Governor Charlie Crist's Office and sharing your concerns about recent decisions by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council ("the Council"). The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.

Governor Crist supports the Council's efforts to protect our precious natural resources; however, the Governor believes this action will have serious ramifications for Florida's recreational anglers and our economy. The requirement to establish strict catch limits for all federally managed species that are undergoing "overfishing" by 2010 is affecting Florida in ways that were not anticipated. A closure effectively puts Florida's fishermen out of work in an already challenging economic time and would severely diminish the multi-million dollar annual contribution the South Atlantic fishery makes to Florida's economy.

Governor Crist has contacted Charles Davis, Chairman of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to encourage a prompt review of the science used to validate the Council's decisions in the fishery management process. The Governor also contacted U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and asked that the Department do everything possible to lessen the impact on Florida's anglers while still protecting our natural resources.

Rest assured, Governor Crist is committed to ensuring that necessary steps are taken to rebuild fish population in all waters adjacent to Florida, but firmly believes that a fishery-wide closure must be a last resort only after all other options have been exhausted.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact Governor Crist. Please do not hesitate to write again to share your concerns and ideas about issues that are important to you.


Warren Davis
Office of Citizen Services

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Transferable Rights of Recreational Fishery: An Application to Red Snapper Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico

Transferable Rights of Recreational Fishery: An Application to Red Snapper Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico -

A readers response to "Feds hope strategy boosts Gulf fishing"

Mr. Tresaugue,

I read your article yesterday in the Chronicle regarding the upcoming Catch Shares fiasco. There are some issues I would like to address;

1) Catch shares have already been in utilized in the Gulf FOR 3 YEARS NOW through the IFQ program which did away with the 10 day seasons/trip limits and replaced those with an allocation of the quota...the commercial snapper fishermen have not been "competing in derby-style openings" since January 1, 2007. The push underway CURRENTLY is to expand the Catch Share concept into the RECREATIONAL sector which, in my opinion will drastically change our fishing rights and heritage. I don't want to have to go to Walmart to purchase tags (at unknown prices) for each fish that I or my son intend to catch. These fish belong to EVERY American and should NOT be put on the auction block to the highest bidder. Additionally, since this concept is being pushed by well-funded environment.orgs such as EDF and others, there is the possibility that the shares would be bought by these green groups and not used at all. The average-Joe fishermen wouldn't stand a chance in competing at the auction block for these shares.

2) The Catch Shares concept revolves around the privatization of a public resource which could then be traded and sold as commodities, an ideology pushed hard by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Lubchenco resigned as vice chairman of EDF — known for its penchant for merging investment and environmental principles — to become President Obama's nomination to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Once confirmed by the Senate, she unfurled her commitment to catch shares and drafted Monica Medina, a former NOAA chief counsel in the Clinton administration,from the Pew Environment Group to organize a national catch share taskforce. Its final report is on Lubchenco's desk. It seems the green environmental.org (EDF) has infiltrated the federal government to the highest levels to force their view of the world upon the rest of us.

3) Given our nation's recent disastrous experience with the unintended and negative consequences of deregulation and poor oversight of financial and real estate markets, I do not trust our federal government to introduce this concept into the fisheries, especially when it is not needed. There has been an 18% drop in saltwater fishing participation in the years 1996 to 2006, with a 15% decline from 2001 to 2006. This shows a steep downward trend in participation in the latter half of that 10 year span. This SHARPLY contradicts what the NMFS claims to be happening, especially since they have cut the snapper season by 2/3, cut our limits in half, and forbid captain/crew from retaining fish since this report. The NMFS wants you to believe that there has been a 300% INCREASE IN EFFORT in 2008 and 2009 according to THEIR figures that shows that recreational anglers caught over 4 million pounds of snapper. Makes you wonder why there is such a strong push for Catch Shares and/or Sector Separation when there is clearly no need. http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/fhw06-nat.pdf

4) This a "paradigm shift" in the approach to managing the bounty of the sea, is being pushed by EDF-affiliated financial advisers with ties to Milken and Lehman Brothers - 2 of the most notable names related to failed financial schemes. Incredibly, people are actually listening to them; "Two months before the Environmental Defense Fund achieved a political policy triumph with the vote last week to transform the New England groundfishery from a commonly held resource into negotiable commodities, a bullish EDF executive was urging institutional investors to buy these catch shares. EDF vice president David Festa's projection was a 400 percent return on the investment, based on what he said was recent experiences with the imposition of catch shares in other fisheries. A consultant to EDF spoke of returns of 10 or even 20 times investment. "It's not telecom money, but it's real money," Festa advised a small but influential private audience of mutual and hedge fund managers and ENGO —or environmental non-government organization — officials at an April 28 panel on "Innovative Funding for Sustainable Fisheries and Oceans." The panel was part of the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in LosAngeles, "the largest gathering of capital markets in North America..." You can read the whole story here; http://www.gloucestertimes.com/punews/local_story_181090419.html

5) Currently, the Gulf snapper quota is divided into 51% commercial and 49% recreational portions. There is a plan on the table to be addressed by the regulators in early 2010 called the "SOS Plan", which is again being pushed by EDF to carve out a 57% portion of the recreational quota and gift it to the charter-for-hire industry. The SOS Plan would reduce the CFH sector by eliminating most of the part-time charter operators. The plan would introduce Catch Shares into the recreational sector and severely restrict access to the fishery to private recreational fishermen,which would then be limited to 21% of the total Gulf quota even though they are the majority stakeholder in the fishery. This has HUGE economic consequences which have not been addressed at all.

6) Federal regulators are citing the Magnuson-Stevens Act as reason for pushing Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures even though the same MSA has mandated implementation of a better data collection system PRIOR to such action. The NMFS has thumbed its nose at Congress by ignoring this Congressional mandate even though it was required to be in place by January 1, 2009. Congress understood the importance of upgrading the existing MFRSS system (which data has been proven to be fatally flawed), PRIOR to implementing any new Annual Catch Limits or Accountability Measures such as Catch Shares. It is negligence to the highest degree to continue to use outdated data collection methods, especially when directed by Congress to CEASE DOING SO, and it is my belief that this is Contempt of Congress and should be prosecuted accordingly.

7) Lastly, going back to the existing IFQ program in the Gulf, the federal government "gifted" a portion of our public resource (Red Snapper) to a small group of commercial fishermen. This gift is now worth millions of dollars to some of the lucky recipients. I recently talked to one commercial IFQ holder and asked him how much would he take for his IFQ quota - his answer? He wouldn't take even $10 million dollars! I then asked him how much he paid for those IFQ shares - his answer? "Thirty five years of my life!" In other words, he paid $0 for this gift, yet we all somehow owe him "reparations", "welfare money" or "bailout$$" due to his decision to work as a commercial snapper fisherman. This fisherman can now sit on his rear and "lease access to the resource" to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, personally profiting substantially from the government action, while not contributing a thing to the NGP other than driving the price of fish to the consumer higher and higher.

This is the real story Mr. Tresaugue. There is a LOT of money to be made on the converting the wild harvest of our fisheries into negotiable catch shares, creating a fish futures commodity market, and will forever change fishing that I, and my children, will know it.

We are leading an effort here in Texas to develop our own sustainable fishery in Texas State Waters working in partnership with TPWD. Texas State Waters are not subject ot federal regulations, and TPWD has proven to ably manage our wildlife resources infinitely better than the NMFS.

You can read more about it at www.Reef-Man.com.

Sincerely,Tom Hilton

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Does Fishing Mean To You?

Conservation Corner
Written by Gary Caputi - RFA

Recreational Fishing Alliance

Recreational Fishing Alliance

To millions of Americans it’s the ability to go to the beach or get on a boat, enjoy a day on the water and maybe keep a few fish for the table within the limits of current regulations. What makes fishing such a universal pastime is its availability to everyone regardless of age, race and wealth, but open access is being challenged from a very unlikely source.

At the April meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Dr. Russell Nelson, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation Association, presented a paper outlining a new scheme for managing fisheries that, if put into practice, would change recreational fishing into something unrecognizable. It is an attempt to bring recreational fishermen into a system that the Environmental Defense Fund calls “catch shares” and federal fishery managers call Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs).

After reading this paper I was struck by the realization that there are some among us who believe recreational anglers aren’t already paying enough for the “privilege” of fishing. In case you’re not keeping score we’re already required to purchase a saltwater fishing license and if you’re a nonresident the fees are becoming usurious. We not only pay sales tax on every piece of tackle we purchase, we also pay a 10-percent excise tax that goes to the Wallop-Breaux Fund. If you purchase fuel for your boat at a marina or other waterfront location you pay an 18.5-percent federal excise tax on that, too. As a group, anglers pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in user fees and special taxes to support conservation, management, enforcement, restoration and access projects…but apparently that’s not enough.

Under this proposal recreational anglers would be required to enter a competitive bidding process for the opportunity to purchase tags for the fish they want to catch. Tag auctions will be open to anyone – commercial and recreational harvesters, fish brokers, environmental groups – and the tags would be sold to the highest bidders. According to the paper, tag holders can take the fish home and eat it, give them as Christmas presents, or take their fish to a market, effectively wiping out the distinction between the commercial and recreational sector. The proceeds from the auction would be earmarked for management and enforcement because, obviously, we aren’t paying enough already.

The paper, titled A Free Market Based Approach to Managing Red Snapper and Other Marine Fishes, provides a framework that limits access to only those with the time to enter the auction and the financial means to make a high enough bid to obtain tags. In case you’re wondering how much that might be, since the quota system was introduced the price that commercial anglers get for red snapper has increased from $2.75 per pound to over $4 per pound, while the National Marine Fisheries Service reports IFQ shares selling for between $10 and $20 per pound.

This paper was presented as a formal response to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s question “Is there a better way to manage U.S. shared commercial and recreational fisheries?” The formula it contains goes against the very grain of what sport fishing has been and most anglers hope it will be in the future. While there are provisions in the MSA reauthorization that have caused significant socioeconomic harm to recreational fisheries, the law has and can continue to work in the future by addressing those provisions.

In a recent press release the RFA called the scheme the “pay to play” version of fisheries management. In many ways it mirrors a management approach being espoused by the Environmental Defense Fund and other Pew Charitable Trust funded organizations, yet the paper claims this program “is simple and arguably the most fair and equitable approach.” The operative word is “arguably” because the fairness is an illusion where recreational fishermen are concerned!

“With the changes to the MSA endorsed by the RFA and found in proposed legislation currently introduced in Congress the MSA can not only rebuild fisheries but provide for equitable distribution of allowable harvest,” said Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director.

“Most of the problems currently encountered by managers are the result of arbitrary rebuilding deadlines and a lack of flexibility as dictated in the most recent reauthorization,” Donofrio explained, adding “with these corrections we can continue to see stocks increase, as Gulf of Mexico red snapper have in recent years, without losing the open access process that has been inherent in recreational fishing.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fishermen To Protest In DC

We are getting good exposure for the March on Washington on Feb 24, 2010. We have our work set out for us because the more media attention we get the more the enviros will be coming out after us to stop our efforts. Our momentum is steadily growing with more and more groups and people requesting information wanting to join the movement. It's time to over come the millions of dollars spent to push us off the water. By joining together and staying UNITED we can effect positive change for us and our marine resources. The time is now.
Spread the word and make plans to attend the event with others from across the country who share your concerns. More info will be provided as it is developed. A lot of folks are working together for the common good of us all.

Gloucester Daily Times
December 16, 2009

National fishermen's protest set for Feb. 24

By Richard Gaines
Staff Writer

The date of a national demonstration by fishing interests in Washington, D.C., has been set for Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 17, the announcement of the changed date was made Monday by the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen, one of the organizers of the event.

CCGF spokesman Capt. Bob Zales said the change was made because Feb. 17 was discovered to fall during a congressional recess.

The protest has drawn national interest. Along with Zales' organization, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, an umbrella group representing states' recreational fishing organizations, United Boatsmen of New York and New Jersey as well as the organizers of the commercial fishermen's protest held in Gloucester in October at the regional offices of the National Marine Fisheries Service are expected to attend.

The target of the protest is Congress at a time when efforts are under way to modify the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act to allow more flexibility in the setting of rebuilding deadlines for overfished stocks. In its reauthorization in 2006, Congress required most stocks to be restored by 2014.

Congressman Barney Frank, whose House district includes New Bedford, has scheduled a caucus of East Coast congressmen and -women for tomorrow to consider how best to proceed.

Frank voted against the Magnuson-Stevens' reauthorization, which among things, shifted the authority to establish maximum allowable catches from the regional management councils, made up of gubernatorial appointees and statutory members, to their science and statistical committees.

In practice, the shift of authority has produced more conservative catch limits, according to Frank and industry figures. And Frank has questioned the wisdom of such rigid deadlines for the completion of rebuilding programs.

"The protest is about flexibility and upholding National Standard 8," said Amanda Odlin, who, with her husband owns and operates two commercial boats out of Boston. Odlin was the lead organizer of the protest that, in October, drew more than 300 fishermen and their supporters to NMFS' regional offices in Gloucester's Blackburn Industrial Park.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act contains 10 national standards or goals.

The text makes clear that rebuilding takes precedence.

But Standard No. 8 states that "conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act — including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks — take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts."

That economic impact is being raised by a number of fishing industry backers, and fishing community leaders.

"The overly restrictive management requirements created by the reauthorized Magnuson Act based on non-scientific arbitrary deadlines are forcing anglers off the water, eliminating commercial fishing, preventing consumers from purchasing locally caught fresh seafood, destroying small family businesses, increasing unemployment and adversely affecting coastal communities," Zales wrote in his announcement of the change in the demonstration date.

Along with Frank, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe has also initiated action to free up more fish for New England's commercial fleet. The Maine Republican's approach is legislation to recognize that a U.S.-Canadian management arrangement along the ocean border through Georges Bank is an "agreement," a structure with higher legal impact than the current "understanding," and in the process exempts the effort from Magnuson-Stevens

The impact of that measure would be to allow more yellowtail flounder caught on the U.S. side of the boundary.

Losses from the more conservative catch limits on yellowtail flounder have been projected to reach $100 million because the control of yellowtail by the New England Fishery Management Council also indirectly limits the harvest of scallops, the premier cash stock that yellowtail lives among on the ocean floor.

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or via em-mail at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com

In The Net

NOAA "Champions" another closure. No red snapper fishing until ...
Soon after NOAA's announcement about the red snapper closure, Holly Binns, manager of the Pew Environment Group's Campaign to End Overfishing in the ...
Recreational Fishing Alliance
Administrator, the former Pew Fellowship Award winner has championed the complete recreational closure of black sea bass, amberjack and red snapper. ...
Jacksonville Mobile Edition
Recreational Fishing Alliance challenges red snapper closure ... Lubchenco “the former Pew Fellowship Award winner ¦ has championed the complete ...
Anglers Are Lawyering-up - www.ifish.net
Dec 4, 2009 ... Soon after NOAA's announcement about the red snapper closure, Holly Binns, manager of the Pew Environment Group's Campaign to End ...
Red Snapper News - Spearboard Spearfishing Community
Red Snapper News Upper Gulfcoast. ... The PEW people and the fish huggers don't pull this crap and it makes them look more reasonable, plus they want to ...
Interview: Pew talks to Sport Fishing - Page 2 - Saltwater Fishing ...
PEW is pushing in favor of this proposed 35year closure on both red snapper and shallow water grouper in the southern atlantic (South ...
InTheBite -
Dec 15, 2009 ... "The current management of red snapper in the South Atlantic and Gulf ... to greater populations of red snapper, the Pew letter calls these ...
Interview: Pew talks to Sport Fishing - Page 2 - Saltwater Fishing ...
PEW is pushing in favor of this proposed 35year closure on both red snapper and shallow water grouper in the southern atlantic (South Carolina through the ...
Feds ban fishing for red snapper for six months | StAugustine.com
Dec 4, 2009 ... Most red snapper are caught by sportsmen, government regulators say. ... An endorsement of the ban came quickly Thursday from the Pew ...
United We Fish: Interview: Pew talks to Sport Fishing
Interesting views and comments posted here about Pew Charitable Trusts. ... Gulf Council to Convene on Red Snapper · Too many catches with Catch Shares ...
North Carolina Fishing Reports - - It's Official.. Red Snapper Ban ...
Red Snapper Ban - But Jane Lubchanco was nonimated by Obama to head NOAA. And she recently recieved a big recognition/award from the PEW people. ...
EDFish » South Atlantic Council Carefully Considers All Impacts of ...
Dec 16, 2009 ... Red snapper in the Southeast is said to have been overfished since ... There is no magic answer for red snapper and other fish in trouble ...

Proposal on fishing limits focuses on a smaller area | North ...
The leader of Pew's red snapper campaign said Friday that regulators should make certain whatever rules they adopt are strong enough to be effective. ...
Red Snapper Interim Rule passes, RFA files lawsuit
Dec 3, 2009 ... "Unfortunately, the red snapper population has not been able to reach .... the stocks. and to change the way noaa and pew interact with the ...
Officials Announce Five-Month Red Snapper Fish Ban | Boat Work Times
Commercial and recreational fishing for red snapper in federal waters off the ... Holly Binns, manager of the Pew Environment Group's Campaign to End ...
United We Fish: Red Snapper not "overfished"?
Dec 6, 2009 ... Red snapper assessment suggests overfishing is ending in Gulf of Mexico ... Interview: Pew talks to Sport Fishing ...
Red Snapper Interim Rule passes effective January 4 - Georgia ...
The interim rule for Red Snapper passed today. .... Y'all should see the PEW petition suppoting the ruling and the passing of 17a and 17b, which ironically ...
RED SNAPPER - A SIMPLE PLAN - Page 3 - 2CoolFishing
Sure, some folks would love it if we simply designated red snapper as a sport .... Pew environmentalists are goading administrators at the National Oceanic ...
Red Snapper ban FL to NC - IH8MUD.com
Most red snapper are caught by sportsmen, government regulators say. ... An endorsement of the ban came quickly Thursday from the Pew Environment Group, ...
1st sea bass now... - PierandSurf.com
close black sea bass, amberjack and red snapper. Gee, thanks. It is also important for you to know that the doctor is a Pew fellowship award ...
NOAA to move faster to reform commercial fishing - Nation AP ...
Dec 10, 2009 ... Fishermen are reeling in bigger and more mature red snapper - a sign that ... Lee Crockett, federal fishery policy chief for Pew Environment ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's time to stop Magnuson from being a weapon against fishing communities - by Nils Stolpe

Countless management initiatives are being imposed on fishermen who are looking at fisheries that are healthier today than they have been in decades.

A reduction in sea scallop landings of thirty percent. A total closure of the Gulf of Mexico recreational amberjack fishery. A reduction in spiny dogfish landings of twenty-five percent. A total seasonal closure of the recreational sea bass fishery in the Northeast. A total closure of the red snapper fishery in federal waters from Florida to North Carolina. Recreational summer flounder restrictions that have decimated the for-hire fleet. Massive West coast rockfish closures based on less than adequate science. A looming lobster bait crisis stemming from a massive though biologically unnecessary reduction in herring landings. One hundred and thirty thousand tons of uncaught groundfish TAC. A labyrinth of MPAs off California established wherever catchable fish are found. And the list could go on, and on, and on….

Read more.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Noaa Report--Getting Better

--- On Fri, 12/11/09, Gulf Council Press Release wrote:

From: Gulf Council Press Release
Subject: Gulf Council Press Release: NOAA News Release - Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recovering
To: "Gulf Council Press Release Mailing List"
Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 2:29 PM

727- 551-5707 December 11, 2009

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recovering

Science-based management has helped end overfishing for iconic fish

A recent scientific update on Gulf of Mexico red snapper shows that fishermen may be able to catch more fish next year. This news shows that when fishermen follow management measures based on science, they lead to rebuilding of fish populations and increased opportunities to fish.

“The update showed harvest levels were still a bit too high in 2008; however, scientific projections are promising for 2009, indicating that the stock may improve enough to support higher harvest levels,” said Dr. Bonnie Ponwith, Southeast Fisheries Science Center director for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This is very exciting news and is evidence of how science and management can work together to protect our natural resources.”

Historical records indicate fishermen have targeted red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico since the late 1800s as a subsistence fishery. However, fishing pressure became too great throughout the mid-1900s as coastal populations increased and saltwater sport fishing became more popular. Heavy fishing since then brought this population to a level that could not be sustained or reproduce as much as it could.

In response to the poor condition of this once prolific population, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council began to address the issues in the mid-1980s. The actions taken by the council have ranged in variety and degree, from adjusting recreational size limits to implementing a catch share program for commercial fishermen in 2007.

“This has been our most challenging fishery issue in the Gulf of Mexico to date,” said Dr. Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The Gulf Council deserves a lot of credit for making some very difficult decisions and commercial and recreational fishermen deserve equal credit for complying with the regulations to help this species recover.”

The red snapper population is still a long way from making a full recovery, but reducing fishing pressure has expedited the recovery process and continues to provide long-term benefits to the fish, as well as to those dependent upon it for business and recreation. As the species’ condition continues to improve, fishermen are reporting red snapper in areas where they haven’t been seen in many years, such as off of Tampa Bay, Fla., and southward.

The scientific update was completed by a panel of experts selected by the Gulf Council and comprised of academic, state, and federal scientists. This panel presented their results to the Gulf Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee in early December.

The Gulf Council may review this information at their next meeting in February in Mobile, Ala., and make a recommendation to NOAA’s Fisheries Service to increase the current red snapper catch levels. The update suggests the current catch level can be increased from five million pounds to slightly more than 6.9 million pounds.

While this is good news, an increase to the total allowable catches may not support an increase to the length of the recreational fishing season. Preliminary data indicate the recreational fishery exceeded its annual quota by more than one million pounds in 2009. Any decision regarding the length of the 2010 recreational fishing season will need to take into account final information on the extent of that overage. NOAA's Fisheries Service will determine the length of the recreational season early next year; however, the season will begin on June 1.

NOAA is committed to responding as quickly as possible to any Gulf Council proposals to reward fishermen for their sacrifice while ensuring continued success in rebuilding this population.

It is important to note that red snapper are managed separately in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida’s east coast). Earlier this month, NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced a temporary rule to protect red snapper in the South Atlantic as its population is in poor condition, much like the Gulf of Mexico population once was. The temporary measures for the South Atlantic become effective on Jan. 4, 2010, and will not apply in Gulf of Mexico waters.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit http://www.noaa.gov.


The below Press Release was sent out yesterday by CCGF. Please plan to attend and provide the info to your friends. More info will be provided as it is developed.

Press Release


For Immediate Release, December 10, 2009:

Recreational and commercial fishermen, support business owners, families, and community leaders will gather at the steps of our Nation’s Capitol on February 17, 2010 from noon to 3 PM to show congress a united front of the impacts caused by the unintended impacts of the Magnuson Stevens Conservation and Management Act as revised effective January, 2007 (RMSA). The overly restrictive management requirements created by the RMSA based on non scientific arbitrary deadlines are forcing anglers off the water, eliminating commercial fishing, preventing consumers from purchasing locally caught fresh seafood, destroying small family businesses, increasing unemployment, and adversely affecting coastal communities.

We fully support real science based management and the conservation of our marine resources while also being able to sustain recreational and commercial fishing activities, providing locally caught seafood, sustaining small family businesses, and supporting our coastal communities. Please stay tuned as the details are being developed and will be provided. Make your plans to join us for this historic event and work with us in a United effort from coast to coast.


CCGF urges all elected officials to work together and to join the efforts by the leaders of other coastal states for the best interests of our coastal communities and the Nation.

This effort is being coordinated by many organizations and individuals including but not limited to CCGF, RFA, FRA, United Boatmen of New York, United Boatmen of New Jersey, MSSA and more to be announced.

CCGF is a 501(c) (6) non profit that represents recreational for-hire vessel owners and operators, supporting businesses, and recreational anglers from the Gulf of Mexico

Capt. Bob Zales, II
bus. ph 850-763-7249
fax 850-763-3558

"The charm of fishing is that, it is the pursuit of
what is elusive, but attainable; a perpetual
series of occasions for hope."

quote on a wall of a ladies clothing store in Islamorada, FL.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Press Release: EDF Applauds New National Catch Share Policy

(Washington DC, Dec. 10, 2009) A policy released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) charts an historic new course for the nation’s fish stocks, giving hope for the recovery of struggling fishing communities and depleted fish resources. NOAA is seeking to correct decades of failed management that has resulted in economically-depressed, unsafe, and unsustainable fisheries around the country.

Read More.

Sticker Shock

We now have bumper stickers available at the following locations and are asking for a $2 donation to help with printing costs:

Bluewater Outriggers - Port St. Joe
Half Hitch Tackle - Port St. Joe
Cathey's Ace Hardware - Mexico Beach

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fishermen Protest Proposed Red Snapper Ban

Fisherman and their families turned out in force at Cape Canaveral on Wednesday, waving signs that said "defend your right to fish.

Link to video.

Snapper fishing ban opponents go to businesses for support

A group suing to stop a federal ban on red snapper fishing will use testimony from Northeast Florida’s fishing industry to help make its case.

Business owners from the Jacksonville area, Cape Canaveral and elsewhere are being asked this week for affidavits describing how the six-month ban scheduled to start Jan. 4 will hurt them, said David Heil, a lawyer representing the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The New Jersey-based group filed a complaint in Jacksonville federal court Friday, asking for an injunction to keep the National Marine Fisheries Service from carrying out the ban announced last week. That would be followed by a lawsuit over whether the ban was justified

Read more here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Legal Problems

Recreational Fishing Alliance challenges red snapper closure

The Recreational Fishing Alliance wasted no time in mounting a legal challenge to an interim red snapper closure, announced Thursday by the federal government and entered into the Federal Registry on Friday. Read more.

Red Snapper not "overfished"?

Please keep the letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls up. You are making a difference. Check out the latest news on gulf red snapper.

Red snapper assessment suggests overfishing is ending in Gulf of Mexico

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gloucester Daily Times

We need all of our legislators to join this effort. Contact everyone you know to have them request their representatives join this caucus. This needs to be a national caucus effort. Contact your representative today!

Frank eyes federal 'caucus' to revise fishing law

Letter from NOAA sidestepping the Main Issue-- Bad Data

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thank you Mexico Beach!

The City of Mexico Beach is helping with the effort by publishing the letter below on the back of every water bill this month.

Thank you Mayor and Council!

Dear Citizens,

In January 2007, President Bush signed into law the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery and Conservation and Management Act. Among many new requirements, the act established new regulatory mandates based on a required timeline. Congress mandated that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement an improved Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey by January 2009; they also mandated that the NMFS stop over fishing of all fish species undergoing over fishing by 2010 and all other fisheries undergoing over fishing by 2011.

The NMFS has failed to comply with the mandate for an improved MRFSS data system by January 2009 and still does not have an improved recreational data system. However, the NMFS is working to comply with the mandate for stopping overfishing of all fish species by 2010—without an improved data system. The unintended impacts of the Congressional mandates has caused severe economic and social harm to small family fishing businesses, anglers, support businesses, local fishing communities, and the coastal states. In the Gulf of Mexico, the “Total Allowable Catch” of red snapper has been reduced from 9.12 million pounds to 5 million pounds, the recreational bag limit reduced from 4 fish to 2 fish, and the recreational red snapper fishing season reduced from 6 months to 30 days or less for 2010. The greater amberjack recreational fishery was closed on October 23rd; the commercial fishery was closed on November 6th. The recreational gag grouper fishery now has a two month closure and the recreational bag limit reduced from 5 fish to 2 fish.

Obviously, this is going to devastate the City of Mexico Beach and our local economy. Mexico Beach has always been the quant, little fishing village on the Forgotten Coast to which all others are compared. Our canal system with its two (soon to be three) boat ramps allowing direct access to the Gulf, our fishing pier, and open beach have all attributed to this reputation; this now appears about to change. More importantly, the adoption of these restrictions will destroy the businesses which are directly and indirectly involved in the fishing industry. Our local charter boat businesses(Charisma Charters, Miss Mary Charters, and Bottom Line Charters) and marina (Marquardt’s Marina) have all been suffering due to the current economy—adopting of these mandates may very well force them out of business. If these companies are negatively affected, a ripple effect will occur throughout the other businesses which thrive because of the fishermen and their friends and families who do business in Mexico Beach while here but not fishing.

This is why we need your help. Please contact your State representatives (even if you don’t live in Florida) and express your concern with these overly restrictive fishing regulations which are not based on scientific data or surveys. Also, please inform them of your strong support for the MICA bill, HB 1584 (Pallone Bill), and S-1255 (Schumer Bill) with the following amendment included:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the reef fish fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shall not be required to be rebuilt, and over-fishing ended, by a specific date provided that the annual level of fishing does not exceed the net reproduction rate for that fishery such that the fishery is rebuilding each year. If the objective set forth in this section is not met for any of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic reef fish fisheries in one year, the Secretary of Commerce shall adjust the fishing rate in that specific fishery in subsequent years to compensate for any overage.”

If you are interested in remaining informed on this issue, the following website has been created for that purpose: www.unitedwefish.blogspot.com . Thank you in advance for your support regarding this issue!

Mexico Beach

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interview: Pew talks to Sport Fishing

The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) describes itself as "a knowledge-based advocate for policy solutions in the areas of the environment, state issues, economic concerns, and the health and financial security of the American people." Backed by Pew's assets that approach $6 billion is Pew's powerful worldwide Environment Group. For the first time in his 20-year tenure heading up that major part of Pew, Josh Reichert has granted an interview to a sport-fishing publication.

Interesting views and comments posted here about Pew Charitable Trusts.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

CCGF Press Release


Gulf of Mexico, November 30, 2009:

The fishing communities of New England have appealed to their Governors and elected officials to join together and lead the way to adjust the excessive regulations being forced by the Reauthorized Magnuson Stevens Act (RMSA). We support this effort and encourage fishing communities across the U.S. to join this movement.

The Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic fishing communities are being confronted by rapidly changing regulations that continue to threaten the very existence of our earliest organized industry. It is unbelievable to watch constituents everywhere be denied access to the enjoyment of recreational angling and purchasing healthy locally harvested seafood. Just when our Nation is struggling to create jobs and build healthy economies a reauthorized Act is working overtime to eliminate jobs and destroy coastal economies. Surely Congress never intended a seemingly innocent Act to cause such devastation among their communities.

Padi Anderson of New England stated, “New England is one region, which shares common interests - and common industries. Fishing has tied our communities together with a common thread for hundreds of years. Now is a time for solutions and responsive politics, not division and passivity. We look to the Senators, Representatives, and Governors to work together for the best interests of our communities and 400 years of tradition.” The group urged their representatives, “…to set aside partisanship, and join together in a United Front with ongoing dedicated communications and collaborative efforts to protect, support and represent community based fishermen and our resource, regardless of political affiliations or special interests. Specifically starting with an immediate halt to the implementation of Catch Shares.”

The five Gulf State Governors have made a formal request to Secretary of Commerce Locke urging a reconsideration of “catch shares" and allow states to play a key role in any proposed "catch share" system.

CCGF urges all elected officials to work together and to join the efforts by the leaders of other coastal states for the best interests of our coastal communities and the Nation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Letter From A Maine Fishermen

So that everyone clearly understands, here is another of many letters and emails being sent to elected officials across the gulf, south atlantic, mid atlantic, and new england. Some in the Gulf area have been told by a select few that those of us who oppose catch shares and oppose sector separation are against charter and commercial fishermen because we see the benefits of working together for the benefit of all. The below letter is from a fisherman in Maine, the most northern state on the east coast.

I do not know this fishermen, nor do I know many more like him who feel as most of us do that United We Fish! More and more are sending emails and letters and contacting legislators and elected officials to ask for help. The select few located in the Gulf region who are standing with groups like the Environmental Defense Fund to destroy your way of life are in the very small minority and are helping the enviros stop fishing and our way of life. I now challenge the few who have signed with the EDF Gulf group to join with the majority of fishermen, families, support businesses and communities to work with us and be part of the movement to have congress repair the unintended damage they have done, and amend HR1584 and S1255 to address "overfishing" and pass both bills so we can continue to fish while our marine resources prosper.

More and more legislators are working to help us because we are standing together as a national fishing community. Help us by joining with us. Together we can effect change and all survive. Our movement is growing daily, our momentum is building, and we will succeed in overcoming the enviro impact that seeks to destroy us. The EDF and other enviro goliath giant bullies will fall as the small fishermen come together as David in biblical times. We can win this fight and we will survive.

Hi Bob, I fwd this particular letter because it is written by a fella who happens to be both charter & commercial----he is my husband's younger brother & 8th child in the family. amanda
----- Original Message -----
From: Rob Odlin
To: RepSean.Flaherty@legislature.maine.gov
Cc: aodlin@
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2009 9:53 PM
Subject: United We Fish

I'm a Scarborough, Maine resident.

My wife and I are expecting our first child. I had planned on supporting them making a living fishing. I work as a commercial fisherman and have for 25 years. I'm the son of a fisherman, my brothers fish, my uncles fished and my cousins fish. For the last ten years I also operate a charter boat.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is planning a new policy of Catch Shares for May 2010.
I'm not sure you are aware of this or not, but thousands fisherman like me will not be able to survive this new form of regulation.

The new system only allows catching a small percentage of fish judged on what your vessel or permit history landed during the ten year period 1996-2006. There are thousands of struggling fisherman along the east coast , gulf coast and in Maine that will lose their boats, homes and livelihoods.

I'm asking you as my elected officials to join ranks with 5 governors,senators and congressmen of coastal states to demand NOAA and NMFS reconsider this Catch Share fiasco. Sign HR 1584 (S-1255) allow room for flexibility to help keep the nations oldest profession from losing a huge amount of its workforce.

We as fisherman contribute in many ways to the economy and provide healthy food to our nation. Many jobs are at stake on fishing boats, shore side infrastructure and support industry. Millions of dollars and thousands of jobs depend on smart and deliberate action by elected officials of this great nation. Please let congress know we need flexibility in the current law, the Magnuson Stevens Act. Demand on my behalf a reprieve from the Catch Share ITQ plan that is being quickly and unnecessarily forced upon us.

Sign or encourage those who can to sign : HR 1584 (S-1255) - [Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009] which will allow flexibility within the time frame for rebuilding fish stocks.

Sincerely submitted,

Robert M Odlin
Captain/owner F/V's Maria and Dorothy , Maine Lady III

Friday, November 27, 2009


In the Holiday season, it is difficult to keep the momentum we have going forward as congress is on holiday and in a rush to end the session this year. We must keep the momentum building and we have several issues that will help us do so.
The gulf council scientific and statistical committee (SSC) and red snapper adisory panel will be meeting in New Orleans on 12-1, 2 and 3 to discuss the recent red snapper updated assessment. This means we will have a good idea on what the status of the stock will be, what the recommended allowable biological catch (ABC) will also be for 2010. Preliminary results indicate that the projected quota for the rebuilding year of 2032 is still only 15 million pounds +- which means even when the fishery is rebuilt in another 22 years we will only be able to harvest 2 to 3 times the pounds of red snapper we do today. Scarey thought.
We are also still working with other groups in the northeast and south atlantic and DC to put together a march on the capitol sometime in Fedruary when members of congress will be most available. There are a lot of logistics to be covered for this.
Also, the signs along the highway idea has been captured by folks in the northeast and they are working to spread the idea down the coast line. Wouldn't it be a great meassage for folks to see signs like "United We Fish" along our coastal highways!
Keep the message growing!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

C.C.G.F. Press Release


Gulf of Mexico, November 24, 2009:

A radical environmental group is trying to influence fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. All five Gulf Governors sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Locke objecting to catch shares for the recreational sector and expressing concern over the red snapper commercial IFQ (catch share) that is in place in the Gulf. They did this out of concern for their constituents and small businesses.

The Governors wrote, “We are concerned that in the desire to adopt and implement catch share systems NOAA has forgotten its most fundamental responsibility under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to maximize the net economic value from the use of a public resource. Recreational fishing is an important activity in all of our states, and one that we would like to see continue to grow as a healthy activity for the public. However, we are concerned that NOAA policies could frustrate our ability to do that.

They also asked Secretary Locke to allow them the ability to protect their citizen’s access to public fishery resources and assure proper allocation of the resource in advance of implementing any catch share program. This was in regard to the grouper commercial IFQ program that is in line to be implemented in January of next year.

The Environmental Defense Fund is anti fishing and have become the bullies on the water with their seemingly unlimited budget. They continue to eliminate people from fisheries and by further dividing sectors it allows them to herd out the weakest sub-sector and then eliminate them bit by bit. In the Gulf they have convinced a small minority (less than 7%) of the federally permitted recreational charter boats to support separating from the recreational anglers who fish on their back decks.

Now radical activists of Environmental Defense are bullying people and trying to get them to sign an EDF petition stating that the five Governors made a mistake in writing this letter to the Secretary. The Governor’s stood up on behalf of their constituents and coastal communities in a public forum through proper channels. EDF continues back door under the table tactics that ultimately takes away anglers rights to their resources.

On November 15, 2009 Dr. Damon Cummings had a letter to the editor published in the Gloucester Daily Times that spotlighted flaws in forcing catch shares on fishermen. It follows this text. Read it and pay close attention to what he says. This is just more info on the tactics used by the bullies at the EDF. If you are approached to sign such a petition, read it carefully, do not be BULLIED to sign away your ability to fish!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Local Sponsors

If you would like to add your name to the list of local sponsors please call Tom Adams at 850-381-1313 or Chip Blackburn at 850-527-6272. The banners we ask that you purchase at our cost. The banners are $59 each and are two by eight feet. The signs are free! We hope to start delivery on Tuesday 1 December. We will also be providing a brochure for you to circulate to your customers.


Shell Shack
Parker Real Estate
Cathey's Hardware
Fish House Restaurant
Amanda's Bistro
Shoreline Styles
Lookout Lounge
Marquardt's Marina
Century 21 Gulf Coast Real Estate Mexico Beach
Century 21 Gulf Coast Real Estate Port St. Joe
Port St. Joe Real Estate
Sundance Realty
Emerald Coast Jewelry
Piggly Wiggly
Bluewater Outriggers
Bluewater Real Estate
Dockside Bar and Grill
G3 Real Estate
Coast2Coast Printing
Driftwood Inn
Bayside Bank Port St. Joe
Bayside Bank Mexico Beach
El Governor Hotel
Scoops Up
Regan's Oyster Bar & Pub
St. Joe Shrimp Company
Harmon Realty

Financial Donations

Myron & Judith Hayden
Tom & Mary Jane Hayden
Larry Jones
Joe & Mary Bush
Steve & Nancy Kautzman
Duane Wrona
Billie Joe & Zellie Shaw
Betty Clark Harder
Harmon Realty
Chales McKibbon

Sample Letter to Congress


Your address here


Dear Senator___________________:
Dear Representative_______________:

My family and I enjoy our natural resources and saltwater fishing is an important part of that enjoyment. We spend money to participate in fishing which helps to support our community, state, and country. We are very disturbed to hear that congress passed a law which is so restrictive that the National Marine Fisheries Service is required to implement severe reductions in our seasons and bag limits for several of the important fish we fish for. These restrictions are causing serious negative economic and social problems to our communities and people who depend on fishing activities.

Congressman Pallone from New Jersey introduced HR1584 in the House and Senator Schumer from New York introduced S1255 in the Senate. Both of these bills address the "overfished" requirements which has caused severe negative economic and social harm to the people, anglers, and communities in the North East. These bills must be amended to address the issue of "overfishing" which is devastating the people, anglers, and communities in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

We encourage you to support the draft legislative language that has been suggested by the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen (CCGF) and several other associations that will allow for flexibility in the law which will allow the NMFS to ease up on their restrictions and allow us to fish and our communities to not be so severely impacted, while also working to rebuild and maintain fish stocks.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the reef fish fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shall not be required to be rebuilt, and over-fishing ended, by a specific date provided that the annual level of fishing does not exceed the net reproduction rate for that fishery such that the fishery is rebuilding each year. If the objective set forth in this section is not met for any of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic reef fish fisheries in one year, the Secretary of Commerce shall adjust the fishing rate in that specific fishery in subsequent years to compensate for any overage.

Thank you,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Signs & Banners

We are currently advising local businesses, fishermen, and residents to voice their unity in opposing overly restrictive fishing regulations by placing signs and banners with one of the following slogans. We will be distributing some yard signs but feel free to create one of your own in a show of support for our communities economy and our way of life. Below are some suggestions for language.

United We Fish

Get the fishing data right

Give Amberjack Back

No more MRFSS' data

We Fish for Food

We want our Red Snapper back

Pass HR 1584 & S-1255'

Rebuild the Fishery AND Save the Fishermen

Say NO to Catch Shares

If you would like to order banners, brochures, t-shirts, or bumper stickers to help out contact Tim or Steve from the website below:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Overfished" Red Snapper

This is a short video to illustrate just how many red snapper are actually in the Gulf of Mexico now off the Florida Panhandle. We broke our twenty foot bream buster down to sixteen feet in length. The first fish was before the camera started rolling and it snapped off the bottom four feet of the pole. This video is of the second fish. We were hoping to be able to video the numbers of fish swimming around the boat but the glare was terrible early in the morning.

We caught a limit very quickly on a widely known artificial reef in about fifty feet of water. The pole was busted to pieces before the party was over.


Paper shows Big Green's 'inside' push for catch shares
By Richard Gaines
Staff Writer
November 15, 2009 10:37 pm

Since at least the 1990s, EDF has been pushing globally to have commonly owned ocean fish stocks converted into catch quotas that could be assigned as rights, creating tradeable market products that attract capital investment. New England has become the primary battleground.

In a paper an EDF official described as a grant proposal not meant for public distribution, the New York-based nonprofit environmental giant indicated four years ago that the appointment of "ocean program senior staff" member Sally McGee to the council in 2003 would allow EDF to "work the regulatory process from the inside."

Matched to McGee's strategic activities at the council and grassroots level, the paper suggested, were the continuing activities of David Festa, the oceans program administrator and a former policy director in the Commerce Department in the Clinton administration, at the pinnacle of power in Washington, the EDF document stated.

Festa, now an EDF vice president on the West Coast, would "bring pressure to bear in Washington" in order to create "top down" support for "our initiatives," EDF said in the paper, written in April 2005.

Festa is a longtime close associate of Jane Lubchenco, the catch share-promoting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who had been the vice chairman of EDF and an academic scientist when President Obama chose her as national steward of oceans and atmosphere.

Festa and Lubchenco co-taught a class at Oregon State University and co-bylined an op-ed piece suggesting President George W. Bush was an environmentalist after he used a disputed executive power to declare a vast marine protected zone in the Pacific. The 2005 grant proposal extols marine protected areas.

Lubchenco's first public policy initiative was to challenge the New England council to approve without delay a long-debated catch share program for the region's groundfishery.

The council complied in June. But at its September meeting, the council implicitly agreed it made mistakes by moving so quickly — it initiated revisions to the design of the bitterly debated transformation of the fishery, now largely stabilized and moving toward the sustainability mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Council meeting in R.I.

Finalizing these modifications — further limits to the fishing opportunities for those who have eschewed the catch share program — is a major item on the agenda for the council meeting that begins tomorrow in Newport, R.I.

The three-day meeting comes with EDF and the Obama administration's faith in catch shares under attack not only by fishing interests but also by Congressman Barney Frank, who since the death of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, has become the lead critic of the regional fishing policies, and even the Pew Environment Group.

Pew held two national teleconferences earlier this month to urge the administration to go slow on catch shares, and Frank recently released a letter to Lubchenco underscoring the potential for social destabilization resulting from catch shares' power to concentrate ownership of fishing capacity via ruthless market forces.

Since Lubchenco took office, a number of positions on councils for other regions' fisheries were filled with EDF and catch share partisans. McGee's initial appointment pre-dates Lubchenco's NOAA leadership, but McGee was reappointed last summer to a third council term.

Meanwhile, Festa — whose EDF salary was more than $300,000 in 2007 — last spring cited the windfall profit potential in the early acquisition of catch shares during an investors' conference at the Milken Institute on the West Coast.

Writing to the Sapling Foundation in 2008 about a 2003 grant, Festa said, "EDF's Oceans Program has turned this investment into what we now call the 'Big Bet' a campaign to convert the majority of US, Canadian and Latin American fisheries to catch shares."

With assets and liabilities of $145.7 million in 2007, the last year for which its IRS filings are available, EDF is one of the nation's largest and most influential ENGOs — for environmental non-government organizations — and has become known for its faith in the idea that market dynamics are the best tools for solving environmental problems.

'Economic engines'

"Through our tradition of working with market leaders to advance environmental progress," EDF said in its 2007 in-lieu-of-tax filing, "we achieve ambitious results by relying on rigorous science and harnessing economic engines."

EDF's sole rival among ENGOs in resources and influence is the Pew Environment Group, a division of the $5 billion Pew Charitable Trusts. Both 501(c)3s have made themselves permanent parts of the political Washington's political sinew.

EDF and Pew share a commitment to the "cap-and-trade" approach to carbon waste reduction in the continuing debate on climate control during last spring's U.S. House committee hearings and were perceived to be sharing a similar commitment to catch shares — until Pew's teleconferences in early November.

During the first teleconference, a participant, Zeke Grader, a well-known West Coast fishing industry official, cautioned against allowing "free market ideologues" — he made clear he meant EDF — to dictate fisheries policy.

Pew emphasized that it did not necessarily share the views of its panelists — Grader and others who were organized to speak about catch shares.

But Lee Crockett, director of federal fisheries policy for the Pew Environment Group, warned against a top down, one size fits all approach to catch shares. In a telephone interview, Grader said he found EDF's belief in the curative power of catch shares to be similar to a "religious" faith.

In a telephone interview, McGee asserted pride in her work; she is known around the council system to be a diligent and effective advocate. "My record speaks for itself," she said.

Julie Wormser, director of EDF's New England Oceans Program, described the grant proposal as hyperbolic, and speculated it was brought to light by unspecified anti-EDF interests long after it was forgotten by the organization.

Wormser said she was unable to determine the granting body to which the proposal was addressed. But the proposal clearly described catch shares as the goal.

"EDF seeks to put in place a management system that couples strong regulatory action with market forces to create sustainable fisheries," the EDF paper states.

"This is a gotcha," Wormser said, lauding McGee's record on the council.

No 'sleeper cell'

"Of course we are an advocacy group," Wormser said. "She's not a sleeper cell. Clearly, anti-EDF sentiment has been worked up. We are doing nothing that is anything that is not above board."

A grassroots federal agency whose members are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce based on nominations from governors — and nominations often subject to fierce lobbying — the fishery councils, one for each of the eight fishery regions, legislate under the authority of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the EDF Web site, McGee, a Mystic, Conn., resident who did undergraduate work at Smith College and got a master's degree in marine affairs at University of Rhode Island, "builds coalitions with the commercial and recreational fishing industries, federal, state and local natural resource agencies, and other non-governmental organizations in support of sustainable marine fisheries that align conservation with the business of fishing."

She has been a staffer on the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans, and holds a Coast Guard merchant mariner's license to operate vessels of up to 100 tons.

The New England Council, based in Newburyport, has been working for more than two years to transition the groundfishery out of the effort control system to a system based on the harvesting cooperatives assigned a proportion of the allowable catch.

By the time Lubchenco, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last April to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for President Obama, the groundwork for catch shares had been well laid, and the result was all but a fait accompli.

Lubchenco is also expected soon to release a draft policy paper on catch shares. She previously helped write a transition paper on catch shares for EDF in which the scientists held catch shares essential to end a level of overfishing so severe that it could, by 2048, leave the oceans the province of "jellyfish." The paper has been widely disputed by other scientists.

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or via e-mail at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.

Now read the reaction to the article:

Here is a quote from the EDF media attack on Richard Gaines, Journalist who is writing about the "real" impact of catch shares on the fishermen in the North East and quotes from various commercial fishing participants from the North East with their reaction. These impacts will be same on all fishermen, everywhere! As you can see, this effort by the EDF and the NOAA is everywhere. Word from behind the scenes from various sources says that the folks at NOAA intend to implement catch shares regardless of what the public has to say. Word also says that even though the NOAA management system must involve an open public comment period, that the public comment that will be received will be not be considered and catch shares will be implemented regardless of what we have to say.
Sound familiar? Sound like the federal public input process we have always had with the management minds made up and the public comments simply a matter of policy and an appearance that the public was involved in an open process of management action? Like thanks but no thanks!!!! Are you concerned with an environmental organization where employees know nothing about your lifestyle or how you work or play working to change your way of life? These same employees are paid by foundation money, UNEARNED INCOME, they have no knowledge of how we live, why we fish, or anything substantial about our way of life, or what drives our communities. EDF and other enviro groups are intent on using their power generated by foundation gifts of millions of dollars on a cause to destroy us. These extremist environmental advocates are intent on using their gifts of money to destroy fishing, fishing families, and fishing communities while they all sit comfortably in their paid for offices, paid for travel, and paid salaries while doing so.
Quote from EDF article by Julie Wormser, EDF advocate to destroy fishing, fishing families, and fishing communities.

"However, readers of the Gloucester Daily Times likely don’t know this. Because instead of providing balanced, objective information about the pros and cons of the current days-at-sea system versus other systems, reporter Richard Gaines has focused his coverage almost entirely upon criticisms of this management tool and given voice almost exclusively to those opposed to it. Coverage of those speaking in favor of the program and its potential benefits has been heavily loaded with biased language that questions the validity of the science, the organizations and the credentials of the experts delivering this point of view.

Sadly, the ones who lose most here are his readers—especially those who have a stake in the health of the fishing industry. We hope those who are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of catch shares and other fishery management practices will contact us, contact the Fishery Management Council, or contact fishermen's groups that have been advocating for a form of catch shares called "sectors" for years.

Change is difficult, and can cause undue stress when it’s not accompanied by an open and thorough exchange of information. Those affected by the changes in New England fisheries need and deserve to have the full story of the changes that are occurring—and they're not getting it in the Gloucester Daily Times."

Comments from commercial fishing families below:

You all should talk about presenting 'both sides of the story'! How dare you take shots at Mr. Gaines' journalism! How dare YOU ALL purchase your way into our government bodies! How dare Ms. Wormser even ask 'so you trawlers drag a net right?' at GMRI. You people make us all sick. No one wants your so called help. Mr. Gaines is highly informed as to what and how we do it in the Northeast. Mr. Gaines is highly aware of the Blunderous Mismanagement that we whom are left in this industry have to live by. Perhaps it would be prudent for you at EDF to try fishing on deck of a boat for at least a year--thereby bringing you out of your sterile little environments and into nature---then reassess your approach to the oceans. Mr Gaines is quite simply the 'messenger' that you are trying to shoot. One with enough fortitude and integrity to represent us in the industry and one that cannot be bought out by your massive wallet! Perhaps that is what really bothers you folks about his writing, otherwise, why do you even care?
from Tina Jackson
Dear Ms. Regas,
In response to your indication that Richard Gaines is not reporting the full truth on Catch Shares, I must tell you I am absolutely in favor of Richard. I am one of the few women who harvest fish for a living, and with the half truths that are being presented to the public about catch shares is shameful. Your organization has done much to destroy fishermen and the communities that are supported by them. Catch shares consolidate fleets, the privatize the fisheries, they overcapitalize and they destroy lives. If they are so great, why is the EU abandoning their catch shares program after 25 years. Look what catch shares have done to the crab fishermen. About 266 boats were in business before rationing the fishery, now there about 80. Tell me how that helps our economy, ends what you call overfishing, and who profits from it. Big business that's who. Why should we pay to go to work, when I know for a fact there are more than enough fish to catch in our oceans.Why should we be regulated to death, only to let foreign nations catch our fish over the Hague Line, only to sell it back to our country. Does that make any sense to you? The amount of fish I throw over on a daily basis is sinful. Your organization does nothing but promote for big corporations to come in and take over our oceans, and to tell the American People that these big corps. will not take advantage and collapse every fishery they can get their hands on is deplorable. I see right through the game, even if most of America believes this nonsense called catch shares, you people know exactly what you are doing.
The facts speak for themselves.
from Mary Beth de Poutiloff
Dear members of the United Fishermen of Alaska,
> My husband and I have been commercial fishing on the east coast of the US
> for 20 years. We work from our 41 foot boat. Recently, because of the
> catch share craze that has caught fire with NOAA/NMFs, we are out of a
> job. The scallop resource presently is at the second highest level since
> record keeping began. Scallops are not over fished, nor have they been
> recently. In fact, some closed area scallops are dying of old age.
> Amendment 11, to the general category scallop fleet has cut permits down
> in half. Most of the boats left won't have enough quota to stay in
> business.
> Recently, a representative from UFA, Joe Childers, came to the east coast
> hosting panel discussions for Environmental Defense Fund. These pro catch
> share "infomercials" did not present a fair debate over ITQ's and was an
> insult to our intelligence. The fact that EDF wants to make our east coast
> fisheries Wall Street's newest commodity speaks for itself. Is there a
> connection between UFA and EDF?
> Fish, fishing techniques and fishing communities are a diverse bunch. For
> Mr. Childers, to travel this distance to promote the industrialization of
> our east coast fisheries is an abomination. Times are tough; we fishermen
> here have been sacrificing for 15 years with draconian regulations. There
> are few of us left, the stocks are rebounding nicely. I guess, what I'm
> getting out is how can UFA have a clue about what is best for our us?
> Mr. Childers, presence here was like rubbing salt in our wounds. One of
> the fishing families affected by this "presentation" was unable to attend,
> but asked someone to please tell this panel, "stay the @#$% out of our
> business!" Perhaps, you are expanding your territory?
> We are outraged and would appreciate a formal apology. We are all too
> familiar with the consequences of ITQ's. I've heard it described as either
> like diamonds or herpes-both last forever. For a member of UFA to
> participate in an unfair forum is extremely disturbing. There are many
> lives at stake in this unnecessary consolidation of our New England
> fisheries! Mr. Childers, position could easily have destroyed my son's
> future in the fishing industry here. This is a threat we do not take
> lightly.
> Sincerely,
> Mary Beth de Poutiloff
Dear Ms. Regas, (Diane Regas, another EDF extremist advocate to destroy fishing, fishing families, and fishing communities)

Your answer to Mrs Odlin is quite interesting. You speak of bridging
interest between fishermen and conservationists. Well when are the
conservationists going to start listening to the fishermen. If you truly
desirer this then I suggest you open your ears and eyes. When has this
ever been done. Although I'm sure you scientific folks look at fishermen
as money groveling people looking for the last fish to kill you seem to
forget who is and has been doing the conservation over the past decades.
Although we are not scientists with PHD's we are graduates of the most
important school that you folks seem to conveniently forget. WE are
students every day we work. What we see can't be learned from a book.
Start listening to the masses. Do you really believe that people should
be run out of business at a time when fish stocks are climbing and our
nation is facing double digit unemployment. I have seen my earnings
stripped to the bone beacuse of foolish regulations that promote the
senseless discarding of a god given resource. I ask what has your salary
done in the past ten years? We are food producers and what you promote
will turn this country into a nation dependant on foreign interest for
our seafood. We currently import 85% of out seafood as it is. This is
not beacuse of a lack of abundance but beacuse of the foolish
regulations you and your kind promote.This industry did just fine before
you and your cronies decided to dismantle our business and way of life.
We don't want you, we don't need you and the sooner you realize this the
better off we will all be. Your cherade is slowly being exposed and what
you truly seek out of this is becoming clearer all the time. Money money
money, follow the money and the real truth will be exposed. Always
remember, lies and deceit will always be exposed at some point and for
this reason we will stand proud and continue our fight for what is just
and right however long it takes. Your day of reckoning is coming.

Capt. Joel Hovanesian
F/V Excalibur, Pt Judith RI