Gulf Council sells out on snapper
Council decision relegates recreational anglers to bystanders in snapper fishery
MOBILE, ALABAMA (10-24-14) – The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved a highly controversial management plan for red snapper this week that will take a significant percentage of the recreational quota and reserve it solely for use by the charter/for-hire industry. The Council approved Amendment 40, known as sector separation, by a 10-7 vote over opposition from several Gulf states, Congress, the vast majority of recreational anglers and even from within the charter/for-hire industry itself. The amendment will now be sent to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for final approval.
“It is extremely disappointing that such a flawed management proposal was approved in the face of so much opposition,” said Bill Bird, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association’s National Government Relations Committee. “Significant questions over key components of Amendment 40 were never adequately addressed. This amendment will create such striking inequities for private recreational anglers that it is difficult to understand how this amendment will be sustainable. It is infuriating that the Gulf Council continues its give away of a public resource when the public has neither a reasonable season nor reasonable size and bag limits for that same resource.”
Amendment 40 is widely regarded as the first step to a catch share program for a privileged few in the charter/for-hire industry, similar to the one in place for the commercial red snapper industry. With passage of this amendment, the way is cleared for up to 70 percent of the entire Gulf red snapper fishery to be privately held, while recreational anglers who fish on their own boats will find their access to federal waters severely limited.
“This decision reflects a disturbing trend in federal fisheries management where a coalition of environmental groups, industrial harvesters and some charter/for-hire businesses are lobbying to reduce angler access to public marine resources,” said Bird. “It is clear by the level of opposition to Amendment 40 that we are not alone in our conviction that it should not be allowed to stand.”