CCA rejects Gulf Council advisory panel recommendations

Panel continues to push recreational-based catch share agenda

Posted on October 27, 2011

In a letter to the chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Coastal Conservation Association is asking the Council to reject the recommendations of the Limited Access Privilege Program Advisory Panel (LAPP AP) and abandon consideration of sector separation and catch share experiments in Gulf reef fish fisheries.

“The recreational anglers who participated in this panel have been greatly frustrated with Council-generated directives and LAPP AP agenda templates that were predetermined to achieve a particular outcome,” wrote Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “In the end, the panel has come up with a result that is opposed by almost the entire Gulf of Mexico for-hire sector, as well as the private boat angling sector.”
The LAPP AP was originally tasked by the Gulf Council with looking at Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ)/catch share programs for the “other species in the reef fish management unit” across sectors, but its scope was subsequently broadened significantly. Its focus evolved to include pilot programs to give a portion of the recreational red snapper quota to the for-hire fleet under a concept known as sector separation, which breaks the recreational sector into private boat anglers and charter/for-hire businesses.
“At the core of the report from the LAPP AP is the issue of taking red snapper quota away from the overall recreational sector to allow a tiny segment of the fishery to increase its economic viability,” says Brewer. “We see no effort by the Council to increase the financial viability of the entire fishery by maximizing the economic value available.  NOAA Fisheries’ own analysis shows that the only way the Council will increase the number of days the for-hire vessels can fish for red snapper will be by taking fish away from the millions of private anglers along the Gulf Coast.”
CCA is asking the Council to focus instead on management measures such as completing the five-year review of the red snapper IFQ program, along with a review of red snapper allocation and the exploration of methods to exchange IFQ shares across sectors, all of which are mandated by the NOAA Catch Shares Policy. Similarly the Council should proceed with the timely completion of Amendment 28 and reallocate grouper between the recreational and commercial sector in order to create jobs and increased economic value from this fishery as well.
“We hope that the Council will recognize the extreme disconnect between the conclusions reached by this predisposed AP and the sentiments of the vast angling public,” says Brewer. “We urge the Council to abandon consideration of an unpopular and unnecessary program that caters to a tiny fragment of the fishery and instead focus on management measures that will create the greatest economic, conservation and social benefits.”
Click HERE for a copy of the CCA letter to the Gulf Council to reject the recommendations of the LAPP Advisory Panel.
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
Capt. Scott Hickman says:
October 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm
““In the end, the panel has come up with a result that is opposed by almost the entire Gulf of Mexico for-hire sector” This statement above is funny since the two largest for Hire Associations in the Gulf have voted in favor of these options. Status Quo managment has failed all the Private recreational anglers in the Gulf and its time to explore other options! Calm Seas………
bob zales, II says:
October 31, 2011 at 9:40 am
Scott Hickman’s comment that the “two largest for-hire associations in the Gulf have voted for these options” is simply not true. The National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) represents the largest number of for-hire operators in the Gulf. Every major local for-hire association in the Gulf from Key West, FL to Port Aransas, Tx agrees with the NACO position which is that sector separation of the recreational sector IS NOT supported. We all support ONE recreational sector, not two, not three.
Capt. Scott Hickman says:
October 31, 2011 at 11:41 am
Bob, Is one of the groups whom support Sector Seperation part of NACO? Did not the DCBA vote in favor of sector seperation and did not OBFA vote in support of a Days at Sea pilot program and the Charter Fichermans Association and Clearwater Commercial Marine Association(charter&Headboats) support all the options on the table to look for ways to address status quo failing our industry and the millions of private recreational fisherman whom use our boats as the platform to access the Gulf reef fish fishery? So the statement above is false! Some of the largest For Hire Associations in the Gulf do support the exploration of alternatives on the table in place of status quo managment which is failing terribly!
capt gary jarvis says:
October 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm
As per usual Capt Zales is not totally forthcomming. NACO is a board oriented organization and there has never been a vote by it’s general membership on whether to support any of these issues, only the Board has taken this stance at his drection. Also not told, is that with 3200 plus members not even 10 % are federal GOM permit holders in fact over 3,000 members are either state guide boats that do not have the restrictions that federal permit holders subscibe to but most of NACO membership is derived of great lakes and river guides thoughout the Americas or east coast guides that do not fish in the Gulf of Mexico and who have absolutly no dog in the hunt so a NACO membership vote still would not have any relevance to these issues as well..The DCBA and OBFA are charter boat organizations that have 99% of their membership are GOM federally permitted vessels making both organizations the largest in thier respective states and they did have membership vote on the issue.
Mike Jennings says:
November 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm
Bob Zales comments are not factual, and Im sure you have received some rebuttals , why have you not posted them?
Three of the larger Charter boat orgs do support this. and it is a well known fact. If your going to post the responses, post them all.
Ted Venker says:
November 3, 2011 at 9:14 am
Mike – we’re not really trying to run a chatroom here. Posting all the responses we have received would be quite an undertaking. Our members have sent literally thousands of messages opposing your position to us and to the Gulf Council.
The fact of the matter is that our members are angry and baffled by this concept. They believe that this is simply an attempt to take advantage of a horribly mismanaged fishery, not unlike the dynamics that develop in the aftermath of a natural disaster, where the federal government loses control of a situation, the traditional rules of society break down, and people who ordinarily would not do such things suddenly riot and start breaking into stores. In the chaos of red snapper management, the proponents of sector separation are like looters scurrying out of broken department store windows carrying TVs and iPads. They don’t own those things, they have no right to them, and yet because nothing else is working it is seen as an opportunity to take it for their own. Proponents of sector separation are doing it behind the smoke and chaos of a chronically mismanaged fishery.
Our members want to know why the feds simply don’t employ the traditional tools available to them to properly manage this fishery rather than resort to giving it away. They want to know why managers won’t reallocate red snapper according to current conservation, economic and social criteria first. That could solve a lot of our problems.
They want to know why the Council won’t insist on having fishery independent data that can verify what shape this stock is really in. They want to know why managers don’t do all those things FIRST and then see what the picture looks like, before going down this road to sector separation and giving catch shares to your businesses.
What we have here is a fundamental difference of position. The businesses that stand to get their own personal pile of fish to make money on, whether it is 10, 50, 100 or even 1,000, are likely to be in favor of sector separation. The hundreds of thousands of people who won’t get their own personal pile of fish and will have to pay someone to go catch a red snapper, are opposed to this plan.
Sector separation and catch shares for your businesses are being crammed through in a time of high uncertainty in this fishery and that will cement a management plan born in chaos. That’s no way to manage a fishery.