CCA Hails Breakthrough on Catch Share Management

Congress directs fisheries managers to address impacts to recreational angling

Posted on December 18, 2009

HOUSTON, TX – Coastal Conservation Association applauds the U.S. Congress for recognizing the need to address impacts to recreational angling as a result of the U.S. Catch Share Policy. Language inserted into the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill currently awaiting President Obama’s signature directs the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to provide a report within 90 days of the bill’s enactment on the effect of catch share program management to recreational fishing.

“It is reassuring to know that members of Congress understand the significance of recreational angling and are concerned about policies that may have a negative impact on it,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “NMFS is so mired in its commercial fishing past and present that it cannot seem to even consider a future with a robust recreational fishery. With the language in this bill, Congress instructs the agency to pay attention to what their policies are doing to recreational fishermen.”
 
The language that was included in the bill was supported by CCA, the American Sportfishing Association and the Center for Coastal Conservation and requires the agency to report “how data collection for recreational catches will improve in fisheries where the commercial sector receives catch shares; and how allocation conflicts between recreational and commercial sectors will be resolved.” The report is to be provided to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations.
 
“Unresolved issues with catch share programs present serious challenges not just to recreational anglers, but also thousands of businesses, such as boat builders and tackle manufacturers, that depend on our access to healthy, sustainable marine resources,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center. “By working together to present our concerns, these groups were able to work with our elected officials to protect recreational angling, and that is a huge step forward.”
 
"A commercial catch share system could have a devastating impact on recreational fishing if the system is enacted without the appropriate analysis,” said Patty Doerr, Ocean Resource Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association. “NMFS has the responsibility to ensure that all sectors are treated fairly when instituting such far-reaching management measures. Assuming NMFS takes this responsibility seriously, the Congressionally-mandated report is a good first step towards ensuring that anglers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged as the Obama administration advocates for the increased use of catch share systems.”
 
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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. For more information on South Atlantic fishery issues visit the CCA Newsroom at www.JoinCCA.org.
 
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
 
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Ted Venker
Newsroom Moderator
 
Q. I thought that catch shares were how the commercial quotas were allocated. What difference would it make to the recreational fishermen how the commercial allotment was made?
 
Jim F.
 
A. One of our primary objections is that catch shares give a certain percentage (in the case of Gulf red snapper and Gulf grouper it is a majority percentage) of a fishery to a limited number of commercial fishers. That percentage of the fishery is essentially locked in forever, even as the number of commercial shareholders decrease over time due to consolidation. At the same time, a growing population of recreational anglers is locked into a static percentage. The only way to accommodate more and more anglers with a static amount of fish is to shorten seasons, tighten limits and eventually choke off recreational participation in the fishery.
 
CCA believes that federal managers must take into account impacts to the recreational sector when designing catch share programs for mixed-use fisheries. There should be an economic analysis to determine the allocation of public marine resources that provides the greatest economic benefit to the nation. And in the event that it is determined that the commercial sector of a mixed use fishery may benefit from a catch share system, there should be a way to transfer commercial shares to the public sector to accommodate shifting demographics and provide the greatest economic benefit to the nation.
 
Newsroom Moderator