NOAA Abandons Recreational Anglers
Approval of grouper giveaway pushes recreational anglers to the brink
WASHINGTON, DC – United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke has approved Amendment 29 to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Management Plan, giving away a majority share of Gulf grouper to the commercial fishing industry in spite of vigorous opposition from Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). CCA had delineated several fatal flaws contained within Amendment 29, including its failure to comply with federal law, its myopic focus on the commercial sector and the complete exclusion of recreational concerns, and its disregard for recent critical developments within the commercial sector itself.
“This Amendment fails first and foremost because there is no consideration of any component of the fishery other than the directed commercial fishermen and their related infrastructure,” said Matthew Paxton, CCA federal lobbyist. “The entire process assumes participation only by the commercial industry without any basis for such determination.”
CCA cited three specific recent developments that cast considerable doubt on the decision process leading up to this amendment and its future viability: the discovery of a high bycatch of listed sea turtles by bottom longliners in the grouper fishery; a new gag grouper assessment which could trigger a significant reduction in the allowed harvest in the fishery, and the emerging economic analyses on the contribution of the recreational angling sector to the economies of Gulf states.
“This amendment should have been rejected by the Secretary and returned to the Gulf Council for further consideration. The interim allocation in Amendment 29 was developed without supplying the economic impact analysis that is required by federal law,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “By allowing this amendment to proceed, federal managers have all but declared that recreational angling is not relevant to them and that sets a dangerous precedent for this new Administration. This failure to adhere to commonly accepted practices of good policy formation leaves us no choice but to pursue every means available to reverse this decision.”
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH