Decision on Gulf amberjack shows federal management on brink of breakdown
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) continued its bizarre history of biased management regarding Gulf amberjack when it announced this week that the recreational season for the popular offshore species will close on October 24 due to the recreational sector overfishing its quota. This announcement comes barely two years after the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council arbitrarily shifted a significant portion of recreational allocation to the commercial sector.
Scientists are calling for large ocean areas to be protected in a similar way to the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland's coast.
Most of the world's open ocean is still unprotected and fishing is largely uncontrolled in international waters.
Unfortunately, the experience all too often for the recreational community is to be managed or considered after the fact. Federal ocean and fishery management policy has historically focused solely on commercial enterprises, be it energy, shipping or fishing.
Task Force omission of recreational angling a glaring flaw
A recently issued report of the White House Interagency Ocean Task Force has caused widespread concern among America’s recreational anglers. Released just weeks after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) promised to take a “fresh look” at the federal agency’s relationship with recreational anglers, the Interim Report threatens to fast-track sweeping reforms for the management of resources in federal waters, but fails to recognize – or even mention – the conservation, economic or social contributions of recreational angling.
NOAA Administrator announces support for strongest possible conservation measures
“This is an important step in the right direction, but much work remains to ensure a recovery for bluefin,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “I am thrilled to see the Administration send a clear message to the international community that it cannot continue its failed history of management for such an important species. The conservation of bluefin tuna has to be addressed.”
The United States today announced that it will seek the strongest possible management for the conservation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a fish which is in serious trouble. This action has two components. First, we are sending a clear and definitive statement to the international community that the status quo is not acceptable. Second, the United States strongly supports Monaco’s proposal to list Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to prohibit international trade of the species.
Angler concerns over catch shares, aquaculture gaining traction
The pace and breadth of federal oceans and fisheries policies have caused apprehension in the angling community in recent months, but a pair of amendments to a Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill filed by Sen. David Vitter (R-La) last week signals that some elected officials are concerned as well. The amendments, proposed as part of spending bill HR 2847, would force the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration to do new analyses of offshore fish farming and catch-share programs in federal fisheries.
"Fundamentally flawed" catch share program a threat to angling
"In more than 30 years of practice in fisheries law, I have not seen a more arbitrary action than this one,” said Robert G. Hayes, CCA general counsel. CCA has asked for an expedited hearing and expects the government to answer the lawsuit within the next 60 days. “We are going to proceed as quickly as the court will allow to prevent the implementation of this egregious decision.”
International impasse leaves bluefin on the brink
Citing the failure of the international community to rein in harvest of bluefin tuna, Coastal Conservation Association is urging the United States to proceed with an effort to list the Atlantic bluefin on Appendix I to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and prohibit the international trade in bluefin.
CCA seeks guidelines for opening areas, disaster relief for impacted businesses
If the federal government is going to impose significant closures that will negatively impact recreational anglers and related businesses in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, then it is vital for the government to develop a real exit strategy from this terrible situation. CCA is calling for specific, measurable criteria to determine when the objective of this plan will be met and recreational fishermen will be allowed to resume catching bottom fish.