Gulf Council members urge Commerce Secretary to reject Amendment 40
Minority report highlight flaws in sector separation amendment
Eight representatives to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council have submitted a minority report to the National Marine Fisheries Service that lays out an extensive series of objections to a highly controversial management plan for Gulf red snapper. The report focuses on significant shortcomings in the development and presentation of Amendment 40, a measure that will reserve a significant percentage of the recreational red snapper quota solely for use by the charter/for-hire industry. Amendment 40 was narrowly approved at the October meeting of the Gulf Council and is now pending approval by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
“The action adopted by the majority lacks support, especially from the Gulf states, and hinders future management of the fishery,” the report states. “This amendment and this vote signify that federal management of the red snapper fishery is broken. The way Amendment 40 was pushed through the Council process does not foster cooperative and collaborative work between the Council and the Gulf states to manage this fishery. Most importantly, it violates several National Standards. As such it is both bad policy, and in violation of the Act. For these reasons, the Secretary should reject the amendment.”
The report is signed by Council members from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, including the state fisheries directors from each of those states. It also contains an email from the director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division that explains that the state voted for the amendment in exchange for the inclusion of a sunset provision that will automatically abandon sector separation in three years unless the Council takes action.
The Council approved Amendment 40 by a 10-7 vote over opposition from the Gulf states, Congress, the vast majority of recreational anglers and even from within the charter/for-hire industry itself. In fact, the minority report calculated that more than 96 percent of all public comments were opposed to Amendment 40, but the amendment was still jammed through the Council process. Until it is signed by the Secretary of Commerce, however, Amendment 40 is just a recommendation from the Gulf Council with no legal standing.
“In addition to being poor policy, sector separation is also bad law. Without an agreement on the allocation, the Council cannot know the impacts. And without knowing the impacts, the Council cannot propose to manage the fishery,” the report concludes. “In addition, the potential one day derby fishery puts private anglers at risk, and exacerbates the conflicts within the sector. These issues are in direct violation of a number of national standards. Therefore, the minority requests the Secretary to reject the amendment and have the Council collect the information necessary to make an informed decision.”