Thursday, February 4, 2010

To all concerned:

Things are not going well for the fishermen at this Gulf Council meeting I am attending now in Mobile. The Science & Statiscal Committee has recommended that the Annual Catch Limit be increased by 38% for 2010, which should increase our season from 75 days to 125. They are talking about decreasing the season in 2010 due to going over the Annual Catch Limit in 2009. That would seem fair on the surface, but in 2009, we not only continued to rebuild the fishery at the rate we fished, but we overcame the status of 'undergoing overfishing', so we are rebuilding the fishery faster than expected.

There is a lot more going on, but it all amounts to NMFS taking more and more away from the recreational fishing industry with no real data to prove that it is necessary.

After asking our people to work with them to get support in our industry for complying with electronic logbooks so they could have more accurate real-time data, which we did, that pilot program is to be stricken from the budget in 2011. No discussion or warning about it... just taking the funding away. Dr. Crabtree said the next day in the meeting, but not when it was brought up in public comment, that it was removed because it was a Congressional earmark. He said that if that program is funded again, it will go back into the budget. That leaves the responsiblityi to the fishing industry to request this funding from legislators again in order for NMFS to get their data correct.

On the other hand, Catch Shares is listed as having an increased budget. The Catch Shares program will reduce the for-hire fleet and cause recreational fishing by private anglers to be available at a much higher cost to the angler. In the budget request listed on page 181, it says, "NOAA requests an increase of 10FTE and $36,000,000 for a total of $54,0002,000 and 17 FTE, to accelerate and enhance implementation of a National Catch Share Program."

Those of us who have listened to the workshop presentations and attended meetings and conference calls and read literature on this program know it will severely impact our industry and tourism. It will even negatively impact the opportunities we have to offer our great fishing to businesses that are looking for amenities that would be available for their employees as they move into Florida's coastal communities.

In the public comment period at this meeting, there was a substantial majority of participants that spoke against a potential Catch Shares Policy being enacted in the Gulf region. Those who have read the information realize it is not a policy in the best interest of anglers, businesses, and tourism. You can read the NOAA Draft Catch Shares Policy online at You can read a very informative study by Dr. Daniel Bromley regarding the negative impacts of this policy in Fisheries, Vol 34, No. 6, Perspective: Socioeconomics Abdicating Responsibility, the Deceits of Fisheries Policy.

Bill Teehan from Florida requested that information be provided by the Gulf Council to the FWC before the April meeting so they can make a determination of whether Florida be consistent in State waters with the proposed Federal regulations. The next FWC meeting is scheduled in Appalachicola February 17-18, for those who want to address this issue with them.

Consideration is being made to look at an alternative plan to split the Amberjack season to be scheduled before and after the Red Snapper season to give anglers a preferred species to catch for a longer period of time.

I am thankful we will have the opportunity in Washington, DC on Feb. 24th to bring this issue into the National spotlight with people from New England to the Keys to Texas in the Gulf and even from the Pacific Coast and Alaska.

We need flexibility in the Magnuson NOW, but we also need people in our fishery management leadership who are including the mandates of National Standard 8 in their regulatory actions, considering the social and economic impacts on the communities and individual stakeholders in the fishery.

Thank you one and all for your support of this industry.

United We Fish!


  1. Thank You for Your GOOD WORK Capt. I appreiciate it, as do MANY Others. -UNITED WE FISH ON!-

  2. MSA is being ignored, skirted & misconstrued. Our federal fisheries management is agenda driven (special interests want to consolidate us drastically) & EDF wants catch shares for their profit. Catch shares is not about conservation it's about economics.