Recreational sector stands united against sector separation
Overwhelming opposition to management scheme at Gulf Council workshop
TAMPA, FL – If the public comment period at the Sector Separation Workshop hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is any indication, recreational anglers are united against any proposal to separate the recreational sector into for-hire/charter and private boat angler categories. The three-day workshop was put on by the Gulf Council this week ostensibly to help managers and stakeholders gain a better understanding of sector separation as a proposed management tool for recreational fisheries.
“CCA is opposed to sector separation simply because it makes recreational anglers compete against each other at a time when there seem to be fewer and fewer opportunities for anglers to pursue fish offshore,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “There would be no desire for sector separation if we had adequate allocation for these fisheries in the first place, and the allocation problem is not going to be fixed through a management scheme that slices up the recreational sector.”
As it stands now, fisheries managers divide harvest quotas between commercial boats and recreational anglers. Under Sector Separation, managers would assign quotas to commercial boats, private boat anglers and charter/for-hire boats. In testimony submitted to the Gulf Council, CCA focused on four key points in opposing sector separation:
The creation of imbalances in distribution of fish among anglers fishing from private boats and those fishing on charter vessels;
The creation of deep political conflicts within states as decision-makers grapple with how to spread fishing opportunities between private and charter sectors;
The challenges state fisheries directors will have when determining how Sector Separation will influence the growth in licensed anglers and fishing opportunities in their states;
Shorter public season for most offshore fishing. Private boat anglers will often be unable to pursue many species unless they pay a charter/for-hire vessel.
“Sector separation will only create additional divisiveness among users and will further detract from the public’s ability to access these important natural resources,” said Brewer. “We sincerely hope that Council members are listening to the overwhelming majority of recreational anglers who believe that this is not a good management tool for our sector. There is a long list of serious problems that need to be resolved before the Council should even consider taking on this kind of diversion.”
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. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.