Economic studies make convincing case for reallocation

Mountain of evidence points to allocation increases for recreational anglers in the Gulf

Posted on June 18, 2012

With the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set to review allocations for Gulf red snapper and grouper during its meeting this week in Tampa, Coastal Conservation Association has presented a summary of 19 studies going back to 2000 that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater portion of the allocation of these two species to the recreational sector. All of the studies, conducted by private, academic and government scientists, have been presented to the Gulf Council previously and the Council has chosen to take no affirmative action.

“We’re not talking about one or two studies, we’re talking about an overwhelming body of work spanning  more than a decade by some of the most respected  economists in fisheries management,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “The best available economic science clearly supports increasing the recreational allocation. It is difficult to understand why NOAA Fisheries has not acted on these studies before now to produce the best possible outcome for the economies of the Gulf states and for the nation.”

CCA supports basing allocations on modern economic and demographic criteria that reflect current and future realities for these fisheries rather than outdated catch histories. Management schemes that give away public resources through measures such as sector separation and catch shares lock-in outdated allocations to individual businesses, making those resources subsequently unavailable to respond to economic and demographic changes.

“We urge NOAA Fisheries to use the considerable economic information it has in hand to increase opportunities for the entire recreational sector, comprised of hundreds of thousands of anglers,” said Brewer. “Recreational angling is an economic engine that should be enhanced during these tough economic times that are impacting every sector of our society.  These 19 studies indicate that a relatively simple allocation shift would immediately produce economic benefits to anglers and the businesses that depend on them.”

CCA supplied the summary of economic data to Gulf Council members and NOAA staff in a letter to Council Chairman Robert Gill. CCA urged the Council to act on the information and look objectively towards maximizing the benefits generated for the entire nation by these valuable marine resources.