Red Snapper Crisis Spawns New Fish Grab

In the wake of the announcement of a 27-day 2013 federal recreational red snapper season, we warned that the crisis would be used to justify all kinds of schemes and, unfortunately, that prediction was correct. On April 2, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) quietly opened a comment period for a pilot program that would let a select group of headboats take ownership of recreational red snapper quota to use as their own. It is another aggressive attempt to force a concept known as catch shares into the recreational sector. Catch shares literally give a portion of a fishery to a business entity for its own use and profit. Federal bureaucrats, among others, believe privatizing a public resource is justified in the pursuit of greater accountability.

While the states, other headboat businesses, and hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers deal with a 27-day season, this pilot program proposes to take a portion of the meager recreational quota and give it to a select group of about 20 boats to use as their own, whenever they want, however they want. It is the latest in a string of baffling decisions by NMFS that serve to ratchet down the public's access to a booming red snapper population.

Several of the Gulf states are rejecting federal management of red snapper, and federal bills have been filed seeking to give greater control of fishery resources to the states. CCA supports these efforts to move management to the states and believes that the states are far better equipped to create healthy marine resources that can be enjoyed widely by their citizens. We will continue to work to achieve that goal, but in the meantime we must continue to defend against federal schemes that privatize public resources under the guise of management.

In response to our blog warning against just this type of program, our members sent messages to members of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council asking them to reject any scheme to minimize recreational access to our marine resources. We received comments from Council members commending the quality and thoughtfulness of those emails. It is a sign of the times that we need to ask for your help again to deliver the same strong message to the National Marine Fisheries Service on this requested pilot program.

Please take a few moments to click the link below and ask the federal government to reject policies that distribute resources to the few and destroy access for the many.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

–– Source: Coastal Conservation Association