Fisheries managers take huge step toward righting allocations

Anglers applaud precedent-setting move to examine outdated allocation for scup

Posted on November 10, 2010

CHARLESTON, SC – The Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee met jointly today, and in response to a request from Coastal Conservation Association voted to begin an analysis of the scup fishery to determine whether a modification of the current allocation is needed. The current scup allocation, set back in the 1990s, gives 78 percent of the resource to the commercial sector, leaving only 22 percent available for public access. The analysis commissioned today will look at current economic/social/biological aspects of the fishery, which will be used to determine the proper allocation.

“This is a precedent-setting development, and managers should be commended for taking the first steps to reallocating a fishery based on relevant current factors rather than outdated historical catches,” said Richen Brame, director of CCA’s Atlantic Fisheries Committee. “Demographics change, economics change, everything changes, but fisheries allocations have been frozen in time for decades. CCA has long called for federal managers to conduct this type of analysis for every fishery to determine where the greatest economic and conservation benefits lie today.”
 
CCA raised the issue of scup reallocation during the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in August, citing a suggestion from the Council’s own Scup Monitoring Committee. Commercial fishing interests immediately objected to revisiting the allocation issue and a motion recommending that the National Marine Fisheries Service conduct an economic study to determine the optimum allocation was indefinitely tabled. At the request of one Council member, however, the matter was finally referred to a Council committee for further consideration.
 
“For years, CCA has made the rebuilding of depleted stocks such as scup our first priority.  Now, with the stock at 170 percent of target levels, it is time to assure that the public has adequate access to this public resource, and that the great majority of the fish aren’t reserved for the private profit of a handful of individuals,” said Charles A. Witek, chairman of CCA’s Atlantic States Fisheries Committee. “The lopsided allocation, which grants the public a mere 22 percent of overall landings, is a travesty that must be remedied.”
 
“This is the first time that I can recall a fishery management council seeking economic information to determine the allocation for a fishery,” said Brad Gentner, president of Gentner Consulting Group which conducts economic studies of various marine fisheries. “We have often produced economic studies for various clients, including CCA, to make cases for reallocation, but this is dramatic shift for a Council to begin this process on its own.”
 
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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. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.