Gulf Governors Stand Up for Recreational Angling

States unite to request feds better protect citizens' access to public resources

Posted on October 22, 2009

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, the governors of four Gulf States have outlined their concerns over the potential negative impacts of catch share programs on their states’ economies and how such programs could restrict citizens’ access to fisheries resources that should be shared by all. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley all signed on to the effort coordinated by Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and the Center for Coastal Conservation (Center) to find a better system to balance the needs of the public.

“We have already seen the negative impacts from the Gulf red snapper catch share system and are concerned about negative impacts from the pending program for Gulf grouper,” the governors’ letter stated. “Creating an exclusive harvesting right for a small group of commercial fishermen inherently marginalizes other users who do not have the same access privileges. In purely commercial fisheries this effect can have both economic and management benefits. But when applied in mixed-use fisheries, recreational anglers are forced to focus their efforts in limited state waters or not participate in the fishery at all. Neither of these outcomes is desirable.”
 
Center for Coastal Conservation President Jeff Angers said, “This show of unity by the Gulf governors in federal fisheries management highlights growing concern that catch share programs that award fixed percentages of various fisheries to commercial fishers are a threat to the future of recreational angling and to the $24 billion it generates annually for the economies of the five Gulf States.”
 
“Recreational fishing is an important activity in all of our states, and one that we would like to see continue to grow as a healthy activity for the public. However, we are concerned that NOAA policies could frustrate our ability to do that,” the governors’ letter to Locke said.
 
CCA has filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the adoption and implementation of Amendment 29 to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Management Plan that gives away a majority share of Gulf grouper to the commercial fishing industry through a catch share program. The Obama Administration has made implementation of catch share programs in federal fisheries a priority, and both CCA and the Center have been working at the state and federal level to oppose their use in fisheries that have a large and growing recreational component.
 
“Catch shares are a huge concern for recreational anglers, and the governors of the Gulf States obviously share those concerns,” said Patrick Murray, CCA executive vice president. “We are extremely grateful to these elected officials for taking such an extraordinary step to raise the visibility of this issue and protect their citizens’ access to public marine resources.”
 
Click HERE for a copy of the letter from the Gulf governors to Sec. Locke.
 
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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.
 
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH