CCA Files Lawsuit to Stop Gulf Grouper Giveaway

“Fundamentally flawed” catch share program a threat to angling

Posted on September 08, 2009

HOUSTON, TX – Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Fort Myers, Florida, challenging the adoption and implementation of Amendment 29 to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Management Plan approved by United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke on August 30. Amendment 29 gives away a majority share of Gulf grouper to the commercial fishing industry through a catch share program.

“CCA has stated from the beginning that this management action is fundamentally flawed,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of the CCA National Government Relations Committee. “In moving forward with Amendment 29, the federal government has disregarded multiple provisions in the Magnuson Stevens Act designed to govern the impacts of such action on other participants in the fishery. The only ones considered in this amendment are the commercial fishermen.”

Catch share systems bestow a percentage of a public fishery resource to a select group of commercial fishermen, based on their catch history, to harvest for their own personal gain. The commercial entities pay nothing back to the public for the permanent property right to harvest a public resource, but catch share systems are nonetheless being emphasized in federal fisheries as a way to reduce overcapacity and improve economic efficiency in the commercial sector. CCA has contended that in fisheries where there is a large and growing recreational sector, exclusive fishing rights proposals maximize benefits to the commercial fishing industry while ignoring the participation and beneficial economic impacts of recreational fishing.

“In more than 30 years of practice in fisheries law, I have not seen a more arbitrary action than this one,” said Robert G. Hayes, CCA general counsel. CCA has asked for an expedited hearing and expects the government to answer the lawsuit within the next 60 days. “We are going to proceed as quickly as the court will allow to prevent the implementation of this egregious decision.”

To see a copy of the official comments CCA submitted to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council on Amendment 29 in June 2009, visit the Catch Share section of the CCA Newsroom.