Despite CCA opposition, advisory panel takes step toward catch shares

Posted on April 07, 2011

HOUSTON, TX – Following its meeting March 28-29 in Tampa, Florida, the Limited Access Privilege Program (LAPP) Advisory Panel to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is presenting a suite of options at the Gulf Council meeting next week to aid the struggling charter/for-hire industry and seem to lead inevitably to catch shares and sector separation in the recreational sector.

Discussions at the two-day AP meeting included a “days-at-sea” program for the charter for hire fleet and the allocation of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the 63-boat headboat fleet in the red snapper fishery. Each proposal would presumably reserve part of the recreational allocation for such boats and allow them to fish it throughout the year. The LAPP AP was originally tasked with looking at IFQ/catch share programs for the “other species in the reef fish management unit” across sectors, but was subsequently tasked with looking into pilot programs to give the for-hire fleet flexibility in red snapper fishing days in an effort to help the depressed economic status of the fleet.
“Development of these proposals was a fast, unexpected turn of events,” said Bill Bird, a CCA board member and panel participant. “It seemed to me that everyone in that room, including Council staff, knew where they wanted this to go before the meeting even started, despite CCA’s objections. Most of the details remain undefined, but it is difficult to understand how either program would work unless those boats get a specific allocation of the recreational quota. You can call it anything you want, but it looks and sounds like the first steps to sector separation and catch shares.”
From the start, CCA was concerned at the prospect of the AP turning to catch shares as a tool and it is clear that those concerns were well-founded.
“The assignment of the catch share approach to a pilot headboat  program was out of left field and spun out of control at the meeting very quickly, even though no headboat operators are represented on the LAPP AP,” said Troy Williamson, CCA board member and panel participant. “It was a runaway train and CCA will certainly make the case at the Council to stop it in its tracks.”
CCA is opposed to both recreational catch shares and to splitting the recreational sector between private boat anglers and the charter/for-hire fleet. “Sector separation,” as it is known, and catch shares are both unpopular concepts with the vast majority of the recreational angling community.
“The days-at-sea program is being sold as a benefit for conservation, data collection and management, but all of those things can be achieved by means other than catch shares and sector separation,” said Bird. “Additionally, the Council could help the entire recreational sector and not just the charter and headboat operators by reallocating the red snapper fishery properly in the first place. In fact, the Council just decided at its February 2011 meeting to finally begin reviewing red snapper allocation and the existing red snapper IFQ program. To make this recommendation before that review has even started doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
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. For more information visit the CCA Newsroom at
Dr Horace B Gray Jr says:
April 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm
Sector separation, under a number of scenarios that CCA has shown, would further limit the recreational/private boat fisherman season for red snapper compared to that available to for-hire operators. This flies in the face of a Texas A & M study that shows that the recreational use of this fishery has a greater economic impact than that of tghe charter boats. I urge that such a tactic not be adopted.
Stephen Brassett says:
April 14, 2011 at 4:13 am
Why would sny recomendations from the LAPP AP make sense? Any panel or program associated with the beliefs of the current administration have not and will not make any sense. They have not shown and proof or made any decisions across the board which would benefit the general population much less a portion of which are sportsmen. Sector separation is a bad idea. You can say one thing for them though, at least they are consistent.
Ronnie Fontenot says:
April 14, 2011 at 4:48 am
If we really want to fix the snapper industry as a whole we need to crack down on the vietnamese commercial snapper and force them to puncture the air bladder before throwing back in the water. I work in the oil and gas industry and I can’t tell you how many times i have flown to platforms to find a commercial snapper boat fishing at the base of the platform with a trail of snapper leading off for miles with the current. They are measuring the snapper to meet regs, but chunking the snapper that don’t meet the length requirements over board to suffocate. these fish die within a few minutes because the bladder is swelled in their mouth to the point they cannot bring water flow by their guills. thus they die. Thank you for your time!
T. Solari says:
April 14, 2011 at 6:56 am
Any catch share of red snapper should classify charter fisherman and head boats as commercial fisherman and require that they share their quota with the the already existing commercial quota. after all, these are all commercial enterprises aren’t they? The recreational quota should be reserved for the private boat recreational fishermen. They make no money off the reasource and spend the most money per fish in pursuit of it.
Ladd Hey says:
April 14, 2011 at 9:44 am
I have a camp near three head boats. Talking with the owner he says that he can not get many charters because people don’t want to pay the price to cover high diesel costs for two snapper. So he has to keep fishing for mangro snapper and amberjack. Mean while they are catching hundreds of red snapper which are thosed back and die. As a recreational fisher man I spend $500 to $1,000 a trip in boat registration, camp taxes, insurance ect. Bus loads of out of state people fish the head boats. They arrive, get on the boat, fish, get back on the bus and leave. The only money they spend is the couple of hundred bucks that goes to the boat owner. I say shut the 63 head boats down. Let them become fishing guides using a smaller boat with less expenses, and fish the same time frame recreational boats do. There is no difference accept they get paid. Any other business has to compete and make money or they close the doors. Why shouild head boats be different?
Also, you are looking at old data. Texas A&M (come on! How about using an in state college study? Last year the two days I got to go snapper fishing it took fifteen minutes to limit out. There are a lot more snapper than you think out there.