Anglers call for exit strategy on red snapper disaster

CCA seeks guidelines for opening areas, disaster relief for impacted businesses

Posted on September 25, 2009

HOUSTON, TX – CCA is calling for a number of measures to reduce the impact of management action to address a disastrous red snapper situation in the South Atlantic.

“If the federal government is going to impose significant closures that will negatively impact recreational anglers and related businesses in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, then it is vital for the government to develop a real exit strategy from this terrible situation,” said Richen Brame, CCA South Atlantic fisheries director. “CCA is calling for specific, measurable criteria to determine when the objective of this plan will be met and recreational fishermen will be allowed to resume catching bottom fish.”
CCA has also requested that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council conduct further review of the existing science to confirm the status of red snapper.
“All the extensive remedies being discussed are the result of a single stock assessment, the first full assessment ever conducted on South Atlantic red snapper. The federal government is asking anglers to swallow a very bitter pill with these unprecedented management proposals to close such a huge area to bottom fishing,” said Russell Kent, CCA National vice president. “With the Freedom to Fish language that CCA developed in the Magnuson Stevens Act, the federal government should at least develop guidelines to monitor and reopen those areas as soon as possible.”
Among the Freedom to Fish requirements are specific, measurable criteria to determine the conservation benefits of the closed area on the affected stocks of fish, a timetable for periodic review of the continued need for the closed area at least once every three years, and provisions for reopening the closed area to recreational fishing whenever the targeted conservation problem no longer exists.
In addition to requesting firm guidelines for terminating the closures, CCA will explore the feasibility of seeking a federal declaration of “resource disaster” to allow businesses impacted by the closures, such as charter boats and tackle shops, to receive financial relief.
“The inescapable fact is that the federal government has done a terrible job of managing this fishery and there is no silver bullet at this point to fix decades of neglect,” said Kent. “But the government should take responsibility for fixing what they can now, and helping the people who are bearing the greatest financial burden as a result of the closure is a good first step.”
CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977.
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH