Chaos reigns at Gulf Council
Gulf Council’s own Red Snapper Advisory Panel rejects sector separation
Even as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council fast-tracks a highly controversial plan to break the recreational red snapper fishery into private boat anglers and charter/for-hire operators, the Council’s own Red Snapper Advisory Panel voted today to reject the concept entirely.
The Advisory Panel’s recommendations are non-binding and it remains uncertain what impact, if any, the panel’s decision will ultimately have on the Gulf Council’s deliberations. The vote by a panel comprised of three charter/for-hire representatives, four private recreational anglers, two commercial fishermen, one representative of the Environmental Defense Fund and one academic would seem to signal that the concept of sector separation needs much greater scrutiny, even as public hearings are set to kick off next week on Amendment 40 – Sector Separation.
“It seems clear that there are forces at work here trying to ram this separation scheme through the process as fast as possible to take advantage of all the confusion and frustration over federal management of red snapper,” said Bill Bird, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “The Council spent the last 18 months on an amendment to reallocate the red snapper fishery between the commercial and recreational sectors, and then decided rather suddenly to shelve it. Then they fast-tracked this amendment to create a whole new sector in just a few weeks, but their own advisory panel doesn’t support it. This is just pure chaos.”
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