The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) is currently reviewing Amendment 28 to explore options for reallocating Gulf of Mexico red snapper among commercial and recreational fishermen.
Prompted by complaints from the recreational fishing community that the current 51-49 percent allocation scheme affords the commercial sector an inordinate amount of the overall rebuilding benefits now being experienced in the red snapper fishery, the Gulf Council has drafted Amendment 28 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan with a full array of options that deal with potential revisions to the red snapper commercial/recreational allocation.
Public hearings are currently underway to gather input on these proposed changes.
RFA believes action is necessary to revise the commercial/recreational allocation for red snapper, particularly in developing an allocation scheme that would be more fair and equitable to the recreational fishing community. RFA believes this action is necessary for these key reasons:
1 – PRIVATIZED COMMERCIAL OWNERSHIP
The commercial red snapper fishery is under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system which affords a limited number of permit holders exclusive rights to a public resource. As the red snapper stock rebuilds, commercial fishermen land their quota quicker, with less effort and in the absence of competition. They are realizing huge or even excessive economic benefits from the red snapper rebuilding success.
But, since these IFQ holders have exclusive ownership of the commercial component of the resource, they actually need fewer fish to make the same amount of money. With a capped number of participants in the commercial fishery already providing enough red snapper to meet demand by American consumers, the biggest demand for red snapper access today is from the recreational sector where allowable fishing days have been reduced by upwards of 70% since 2006.
Furthermore, it is not good public policy to support a management approach that encourages a excessive ownership of a public resource by a few at the expense of the general public.
2 – MORE FISH, LESS ACCESS, BAD FORMULA
Under the current allocation scheme, the rebuilding success of the red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico will not benefit the recreational sector unless the current allocation is revised. The dilemma lies in the fact that as more red snapper become available to recreational anglers, the quota will be caught quicker which results in shorter seasons. This ultimately reduces recreational opportunities, decreases the socioeconomic output of the recreational red snapper fishery and negatively impacts stakeholder desire to rebuild fish stocks.
Moreover, the current 51/49 allocation does not allow the recreational red snapper fishery to expand and draw new participants into the fishery which is essential for a healthy and vibrant recreational fishing industry. Most people will agree that a management approach that disadvantages the recreational sector as a stock rebuilds is not fair and lacks basic common sense and therefore, RFA supports changing the current allocation.
THE RFA POSITION
Specific to Amendment 28, RFA supports Alternative 6 which would set a 9.12-million-pound baseline with 100 percent of the allowable harvest above the baseline going to the recreational sector. RFA believes this alternative will prevent the recreational red snapper season from decreasing as the stock rebuilds, thereby giving the recreational sector more access to the red snapper resource while providing improved socioeconomic output throughout the Gulf region.
RFA fully supports the Gulf Council moving forward with an allocation scheme that provides 100% of any red snapper quota above 9.12 million pounds to the recreational sector. The recreational sector should be given equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a rebuilt fish stock.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Visit the link below and fill in the suggested comments if you wish to keep fishing on a fair and equitable allocation of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Commercial red snapper permit holders are against giving saltwater anglers improved access to a rebuilding red snapper stock, and have united with seafood wholesalers and the restaurant industry nationwide to keep you from enjoying the success of a rebuilding red snapper stock.
“It is very important that you take action now,” said RFA board of director Nate Odum of Mexico Beach Marina and Outfitters. “This does not take long and will go a long way to helping us get back our fishing rights. Please keep this going to all of your friends and family.”
Go to link below and post the below comment:
“I vote yes on Alternative 6 concerning Amendment 28”
And be sure to review the two numbered paragraphs for additional background, and feel free to make any additional reference to ‘The RFA Position’ above as well when providing your comments to the Gulf Council.
Logo courtesy Recreational Fishing Alliance