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June 18, 2012

Evidence Justifies Allocating More Red Snapper to Recreational Fishermen

A total of 19 studies dating back to 2000 show conclusively that, based on economics, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should allocate a greater share of red snapper and grouper to recreational fishermen, says a marine-conservation group.

“A mountain of evidence” shows the economic benefit of increasing the allocation of red snapper and grouper to the recreational sector, according to the Coastal Conservation Association.

With the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set to review allocations for Gulf red snapper and grouper during its meeting this week in Tampa, the CCA has presented a summary of 19 studies going back to 2000 that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater portion of the allocation of these two species to the recreational sector. All of the studies, conducted by private, academic and government scientists, have been presented to the Gulf Council previously and the council has chosen to take no affirmative action.

"We're not talking about one or two studies, we're talking about an overwhelming body of work spanning  more than a decade by some of the most respected  economists in fisheries management," says Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. "The best available economic science clearly supports increasing the recreational allocation. It is difficult to understand why NOAA Fisheries has not acted on these studies before now to produce the best possible outcome for the economies of the Gulf states and for the nation."

CCA supports basing allocations on modern economic and demographic criteria that reflect current and future realities for these fisheries rather than outdated catch histories. Management schemes that give away public resources through measures such as sector separation and catch shares lock-in outdated allocations to individual businesses, making those resources subsequently unavailable to respond to economic and demographic changes.

"We urge NOAA Fisheries to use the considerable economic information it has in hand to increase opportunities for the entire recreational sector, comprised of hundreds of thousands of anglers," says Brewer. "Recreational angling is an economic engine that should be enhanced during these tough economic times that are impacting every sector of our society.  These 19 studies indicate that a relatively simple allocation shift would immediately produce economic benefits to anglers and the businesses that depend on them."

CCA supplied the summary of economic data to Gulf Council members and NOAA staff in a letter to Council Chairman Robert Gill and urged the Council to act on the information to look objectively toward maximizing the benefits generated for the entire nation by these valuable marine resources.