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Thread: Solution to Red Snapper Management

  1. #1
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    Default Solution to Red Snapper Management

    From the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation:

    Gulf States Unveil Solution to Red Snapper Management
    Sportfishing and boating community welcomes state-based management approach


    Washington, D.C. - March 13, 2015 - In a move long-awaited by the recreational fishing and boating community, the directors of the state fish and wildlife agencies from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas announced an agreement for state-based management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper, which in recent years has experienced increasing privatization of this public resource and decreasing recreational fishing opportunities. The announcement was greeted with strong enthusiasm from the recreational fishing and boating community, which has supported greater state control of Gulf red snapper.


    "Throughout the country, states have proven to be highly successful at fish and wildlife management in a way that conserves natural resources while allowing for reasonable public access," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. "The Gulf states are among the nation's leaders in marine fisheries management, which is why we have continued to look to them as the vehicle for managing Gulf red snapper going forward to get us out of the current mess created by federal mismanagement."


    Gulf of Mexico red snapper is presently managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, under the National Marine Fisheries Service. The states' agreement, which is predicated on transferring management authority away from the Council, describes the key elements of a plan in which the Gulf states would coordinate management of red snapper throughout the Gulf of Mexico through the proposed Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority.


    "Coordinated management among the states is the only solution to an unaccountable federal system of fisheries management," said Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation President Jeff Crane. "Faced with an untenable situation, the states have risen to the challenge and collectively identified a clear path to a more balanced fishery."


    Under this management structure, each state would have authority to manage red snapper out to 200 miles off its coastline. Each state would be responsible for developing and implementing a red snapper management plan for its waters, which would be approved by the rest of the states.

    "We have long pushed for the states to take over Gulf red snapper, but until now, we haven't had a detailed plan for what state-based management would look like," said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. "Under this approach, we are confident that management outcomes will begin to align with the health of the resource and anglers' access to it."


    "Gulf red snapper is incredibly important to the economy of coastal communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, and attracts anglers from all across the country," said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. "It's abundantly clear that the states are best equipped to manage this valuable fishery. It's time we give them that opportunity."

    ###

    Since 1989 CSF has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted sportsmen's organization in the political arena. CSF's mission is to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. The unique and collective force of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen's Caucus (GSC) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC), working closely with CSF, and with the support of major hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping organizations, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that advance the interests of America's hunters and anglers.
    Candy
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  2. #2

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    This is great news

  3. #3

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    Is there a time frame for any of this yet?
    Capt. Frankie

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    Quote Originally Posted by captfrankie View Post
    Is there a time frame for any of this yet?
    Hi Frankie,
    This discussion began last year and it's good to see that it has support of Congress. I am keeping my eye on the topic and will let everyone know when it gets to the public comment phase. Once that begins, it will be very important for everyone to speak up. That's the only way you will be heard! Showing up at public comment meetings and posting comments online are both beneficial.

    Stay tuned!
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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    Very encouraging development!
    -Mark

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    Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Lauds Gulf States for Bid to Take Over Red Snapper Management

    March 17, 2015 - The five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico-Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas-have pulled together in an effort to wrestle management authority of the red snapper fishery from the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (GMFMC). In a jointly signed letter submitted to federal authorities on March 13, the states outlined a proposal to shift management of Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper away from the federal government. This unprecedented effort includes a new framework for cooperative state-based management of this incredibly important fishery and would create the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority.

    "The Gulf States are making it crystal clear that they have no confidence in the GMFMC's ability to manage red snapper in a fair and equitable manner," said Jim Donofrio, RFA's executive director. "Our Gulf chapters have been working diligently to bring about change within the Council system only to have their efforts thwarted by an organization that is under the control of an entrenched group of individuals associated with environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund."

    The dissatisfaction with the performance of the GMFMC by state management authorities and their stakeholders has been brewing for a long time and the problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the fishery has been rebuilt to well beyond the most optimistic historic levels while the recreational red snapper seasons set by the GMFMC have been cut to levels counted in days with no justification.

    "I think the straw that broke the back of any credibility within the GMFMC was the recent vote for sector separation," Donofrio said. "There was overwhelming opposition for this unprecedented move, but the Council went ahead with it anyway."

    According to Robert Barham at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the states are far more capable of handling the collection of more precise landings data than the GMFMC, which relies upon the flawed Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). Along with the other Gulf States, Louisiana is confident we can provide precise landings estimates and more frequent stock assessments-the data needed to better manage this fishery and allow our fishermen to take full advantage of the available resource. The states are also more receptive and can be more responsive to the wants and needs of constituent's-we can set flexible, tailored management measures that address local needs as well as Gulf-wide conservation goals.

    "A change has been a long time coming-we want to thank the state directors for pulling together to create a viable solution for fixing red snapper management," Barham said.

    On the dock, anglers and the industry were pleased with the proposed action.

    "Gulf of Mexico red snapper at the federal level has proven to be an absolute failure for the recreational fishing community from a management standpoint," explained Jamie Wilkinson, Vice President and Group Publisher at F+W Media and member of the RFA Board of Directors. "The Gulf states should be commended for putting forward a proposal that aims to provide recreational fishermen an increased opportunity to benefit from the rebuilding success of red snapper."

    ######

    About Recreational Fishing Alliance
    The Recreational Fishing Alliance is a national, grassroots political action organization representing recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues. The RFA Mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries. For more information, call 888-JOIN-RFA or visit www.joinrfa.org.
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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    This well written letter was sent to me and had some very interesting information in it. I know and trust the author, he is a charter for hire guy that has fought for recreational fishing for years. He does not support sector separation. He attends all the Govt. fishery meetings and is very informed about what is happening. I hope you will read his letter and take from it what you will. Everyone should understand what is happening, why it is happening and who is pushing what agenda.

    From: Bob Zales 2
    Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 10:27 PM
    To: 'Bob Zales 2'
    Subject: new game

    FYI. The EDF supported commercial IFQ owners along with the supported CFA and several other charter assns (Destin, AL, TX, and Clearwater) have ramped up the effort to move the charter for hire sector into the commercial sector. The show today was very well planned and executed. They showed up in force and each person commented as if from one script. Almost to the letter each comment was the same. “The red snapper fishery is represented by 70% of the participants as all the commercial IFQ owners and the Gulf Charter For Hire industry stand together to oppose any reallocation of red snapper and are opposed to any regional management. They do support staying with fed management and support moving the pri/recs to state management.” This was the common message. Only a handful of comments supported reallocation and regional management. I am amazed that the charter guys who spoke today do not want any reallocation from the commercial side yet they fully support taking fish from the pri/rec side. This should provide a clear message of the agenda.

    As charter for hire vessel owners and operators you may fully support this position, I do not know. My point is that if you do you are well represented by EDF. If you do not, then you need to make your position known. The time to speak up is now as the charter for hire industry in the Gulf is extremely close to being changed forever. Once the change is made it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to undo.

    Those who support this change are of the opinion that by seeking more burdensome requirements such as VMS, moving to catch shares, using tags, and seeking a separate quota will drive some charter for hire owners out of the business thus making more quota available for those who are left. Intersector trading is still a goal and one being considered for the future when individual shares are created. Many dual permitted charter for hire vessel owners see multiple benefits to individual quotas as the see the few commercial IFQ owners who have been made wealthy as a way to become part of the cherished “haves”. They care less about the many “have-nots” who will be left struggling to survive, but those who will struggle are seen as those who will leave the fishery making more quota for the “haves”.

    You may think I am just trying to scare you and making this up. Read the testimony from past council meetings and once the minutes of today’s’ meeting are available read them. The meeting today was filmed by the National Geographic Channel as they have been filming in Galveston, TX over the past several weeks. EDF and the Shareholder Alliance are responsible for bringing them in as the final product will be provided to the world. The majority of those in the room today had obviously been schooled on the script and played their parts well.

    I was interviewed by them. I was shocked they asked me to talk on camera. They told me that in their interviews prior to today the many commercial people they talked with and charter for hire they spoke to told them that all recreational fishermen wanted all the quota and did not want a commercial fishery. They have been told the Gulf charter for hire vessel owners did not support reallocation and wanted to be managed with the commercial fishery. They said those who they spoke to supported federal management. In all of what they told me they asked my opinion and what I knew of what others thought. I gave them my opinion which I am sure y’all know because I have never hidden my opinion.

    The purpose of this email is to inform you of where we are. You make up your own mind and how you want the charter for hire industry to be. Think about the future with fewer boats, especially those who pay dockage and buy fuel at marinas. Fewer boats, mean less fuel sales, higher dockage fees, higher fuel costs, and possibly the total loss of marinas due to the inability to stay profitable. In addition, fewer boats mean shrinking license sales for the states meaning higher costs for the licenses. I suggest to you that if you support the edf/cfa/commercial ifq folks be prepared for a drastic change in your operation. If you do not support these folks then I strongly recommend you, everyone, begin an effort to notify those in power where you stand. At this point they are being told your position for you.
    Bob

    Capt. Bob Zales, II
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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    This is what the CCA has to say about State Management of the Gulf Red Snapper Fishery. At the bottom is a link where you can share your thoughts and opinions.


    States on target with red snapper management plan

    They say you know you are over the target when you start taking flak.

    If the hysterical reaction from the commercial fishing sector is any indication, it appears that the five Gulf state fisheries directors are on target with regard to their plan to assume management of Gulf red snapper.

    Federal management of red snapper has been a three-decade disaster of confusion and misguided regulations, and it defies belief that there are still those who see fit to defend that system to the bitter end. Of course, the most strident are the ones who have directly benefited from the federal management system and received ownership of public wildlife resources for their own use and profit, so perhaps their views should be taken with a grain of salt.

    On the other side of the spectrum, the state fisheries directors for the five Gulf states are professional stewards of the resource, with extensive training in wildlife management in general and marine science in particular. They know what they are doing. Their state-based management plan for red snapper is based on concepts they have used so successfully on species like red drum and speckled trout in the Gulf. Neither of those fisheries were subjected to privatization schemes and the states still managed to provide an unprecedented level of access for their citizens. All have been cited as tremendous conservation success stories.

    In contrast, the Gulf Council is on a completely different, twisted track and has resorted to a privatization scheme to limit the public's access to red snapper in the name of proper management. When it created the red snapper catch share program in 2006 and literally gave away shares of the red snapper fishery for free to commercial operators, the Gulf Council truly lost its way. All the criteria used by the state managers to create robust fisheries and maximum access for their citizens were replaced by pure, simple greed. Today less than 400 commercial operators own 51 percent of the entire red snapper fishery. Plans are in the works for some in the charter/for-hire fishery to own roughly another 20 percent. The hundreds of thousands of anglers not in these elite categories will be left with crumbs and 9-day seasons.

    Since the states unveiled their ideas for an alternative management solution for red snapper, the commercial fishing industry and some in the charter/for-hire industry have beaten down the doors of Congress to insist that the states' solution be burned down before it is even fully fleshed out. They are desperately trying to protect the incredible windfall that has been given to them in the federal system and have even resorted to calling recreational anglers "greedy." The irony that the beneficiaries of an egregious wildlife privatization scheme would label the only stakeholders not benefiting financially from that scheme as "greedy" appears lost on them.

    One might wonder why the state directors would volunteer for the monumental responsibility of rebooting one of the most mismanaged fisheries in the entire country and setting it on a sensible course, but the answer is simple. They know that it does not have to be so convoluted and difficult. They know giving away pubic wildlife resources to a few stakeholders who are easier to manage is betraying the public trust. They know there is a better way because they do it every day in their states.

    The answer to complicated fishery problems cannot be to funnel access through fewer and fewer lucky, wealthy entities and leave everyone else tied to the dock. As much as some people would like to distort it, the ends cannot be allowed to justify these means.

    If you agree, contact your Congressmen and let them hear the other side of this story. The state directors have acted with courage in offering an alternative to a shady federal management system and their ideas should be held up, not trampled by greed.


    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/link/targ...MrEP9W2WB.aspx
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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    Here is an article about the stance Alabama is taking on the Gulf States taking control of the Red Snapper away from the Feds:


    http://www.al.com/outdoors/index.ssf...elated_stories
    Jeff Dute | jdute@al.com By Jeff Dute | jdute@al.com
    Email the author | Follow on Twitter
    on April 02, 2015 at 5:30 AM



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    Even as members of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council discuss the mind-numbing minutiae of red snapper management at a meeting this week in Biloxi, other talks a thousand miles away may determine its real long-term future.

    Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship said he has made three trips to Washington D.C. since December, accompanied by Conservation Commissioner Gunter Guy once, to convince lawmakers that Gulf states can better manage the popular game fish to the greatest benefit of the species and all user groups that rely on it for commercial and recreational purposes.

    If successful, their efforts will take the Gulf Council out of the red-snapper management process.

    Blankenship said the confusing ad often frustrating result of federal management is made yet again clear this year when a 3.3 million pound Gulfwide quota increase may translate into but two days more than the nine recreational anglers had to catch red snapper in 2014.

    He said the quota increase is negated as it relates to more fishing days for several reasons.

    Firstly, the commercial sector takes 51 percent of the increase off the top.

    Secondly, National Marine Fisheries Service estimates suggest the catch rate per day in the eastern Gulf is increasing more than expected.

    Finally, with the recreational sector potentially being split into for-hire and private components through sector separation, increases in quota will also be split with the private component receiving roughly 60 percent of the total.

    The 2015 season could be shorter than 11 days if the Gulf Council decides to base number of days on anything other than modeling that used the 2014 average fish size to base this year's season length.

    If the Council decides to base season length estimates that include a larger anticipated average fish size, the season could again be nine days.

    It could be as short as seven days if sector separation is approved as expected and Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida state water remain non-compliant with the federal season.

    Alabama is expected to announce its state season after the federal season is set, Blankenship said.

    To get out from under the thumb of the federal quota system, Blankenship said his efforts on Capitol Hill have focused on advocating for red snapper to be removed from the Magnuson-Stevens Act purview and responsibility for their management, including assessment of fishing impacts on the population, be delegated to the states.

    That is the primary component of the Red Snapper Regulatory Reform Act introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01).

    Alabama Sen, Richard Shelby and other Gulf Coast members of Congress have endorsed its passage as necessary to open the fishery to alternatives to restrictive federal quotas as created under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    This act is the umbrella under which all fisheries within federal water are managed. The act's authorization expired in 2013 and congress took up its reauthorization last year.

    "It is clear there is a better way to deal with our red snapper fishery ..." -- Rep. Bradley Byrne
    On Wednesday, Byrne warned fishermen not to be deceived by the federal quota increase.

    Byrne contends that federal fishery managers are still under sampling the number of red snapper in the Gulf and does not have reliable data to determine the number of Red Snapper caught.

    Last year, for instance, Byrne said that NOAA estimated 1,041,000 pounds of red snapper were caught off the coast of Alabama while the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting system only estimated a catch of 418,000 pounds.

    "While NOAA has proposed an increase in the Red Snapper quota, the truth is we are only getting more of the same. Don't let this supposed increase fool you. In reality, NOAA will use a twenty percent buffer to account for alleged 'overfishing,' a method that results in almost no tangible increase," Byrne said.

    "Worst of all, NOAA continues to base their findings on flawed data. Anyone who has been fishing in the Gulf knows the Red Snapper fishery is as healthy as ever. Unfortunately, NOAA continues to not sample for red snapper on reefs, which is especially troubling since red snapper are reef fish."

    Byrne argues that this combined with efforts by other Gulf states proves they are doing a better job of measuring the red snapper stock and estimating the yearly catch.

    "It is clear there is a better way to deal with our red snapper fishery, and that means giving more power to the Gulf states to do the data collection and stock assessments. State-level data continues to be more accurate and more scientific than the data being put forward by Washington-based federal bureaucrats," he said.

    Byrne's bill also creates "jurisdictional parity" among the five Gulf states by extending Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana state water out to nine nautical miles to match current territorial-water limits enjoyed by Florida and Texas.

    State-water boundaries have become increasingly controversial over the past five years since some states have chosen to hold red snapper seasons within their territorial water that do not comply with seasons in federal water.

    Since the Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates the Gulf be managed as a whole, catches in state water still count against the Gulfwide annual quota.

    Theoretically, this means that if estimates suggest that the entire quota could be caught in state water, a mandatory closure of a federal season would be triggered even if that season had never opened.

    Blankenship and the other four marine resources directors are advocating a plan that would allow each state to take responsibility of managing red snapper in the Gulf inside its state borders extended southward to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone boundary of 200 miles.

    States would do stock assessments and set season lengths and daily bag and size limits at their discretion with the express purpose of preventing overfishing while ensuring the greatest access for its citizens, Blankenship said.

    Some critics have argued that this would allow for red snapper to quickly be threatened by overfishing, but Blankenship said that would be contrary to any state's interests.

    "What incentive would we have to manage this or any fishery to the lowest possible point?" Blankenship said. "Our incentive is to give access to our citizens while managing for the future success of the species. We've been doing it for decades with flounder, mackerel, sheepshead and others.

    "Even though red snapper are a reef fish, there's no real difference and we would manage for their continued success the same way."
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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    To be fair and balanced, here is an article from the Commercial fishermens perspective:


    http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/...elated_stories
    By Guest opinion
    on March 26, 2015 at 6:56 PM, updated March 26, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    By Dennis McKay

    Mobile headshot.JPG
    Dennis McKay
    On fishing forums and during public hearings, I witness men and women abandon the better angels of their nature to shout falsehoods at the National Marine Fisheries Service over frustration with the Gulf's short federal-water red snapper seasons.

    Drowned out, I fear, are the very deserving criticisms pointed at the Gulf states. The longer seasons allowed in state waters, which lack scientific justifications, subtract from the days we can fish beyond nine miles.

    Thus, the states cause the real problem. And they're pushed to do so by the groups that were once the Gulf's more trusted recreational fishing organizations. These increasingly selfish organizations would have federal fisheries shifted to the states, where they have more political influence so they can pillage rather than adhere to responsible, sustainable stewardship. That's not going to fly.

    AL.COM OPINION
    About the writer
    Dennis McKay is an avid recreational angler, outdoorsman, hunter, and journalist currently based in central Alabama.

    More opinion on AL.com
    Still, it's really alarming how this irrational sense of entitlement, held by a loud minority of spoiled anglers and a few greedy industry representatives, finds its way into our state agencies' policy positions.

    The latest attack on sustainable prosperity came Friday the 13th, when eight recreational fishing organizations signed a press release applauding an alleged, "Solution to red snapper management."

    The Coastal Conservation Association, the International Game Fish Association, The Billfish Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Center for Coastal Conservation, and the Guy Harvey Foundation rallied around a plan to remove the species from the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act and the law's two core requirements: end overfishing and rebuild overfished populations.

    These mandates have encouraged a successful red snapper rebound. We've enjoyed an increase in the recreational red snapper annual catch limit for six straight years, including a twenty-percent, two-million-pound increase in 2015.

    In spite of the federal management system's successes, these groups prefer something called the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority to "manage" the Gulf's red snapper.

    According to the Center for Coastal Conservation's website, the authority's governing body would consist of each Gulf state's principal marine fisheries managers. Each state would develop its own plan for red snapper from its shores to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone. [(http://www.coastalconservation.us/do..._Bullets.pdf)]

    The proposed GSRSMA would use whatever scientific information the states can glean without stock assessment scientists, with however little federal funding that gets filtered to the states through the quasi-governmental Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, with an ambiguous plan to coordinate research efforts, and a cross-our-hearts promise that the population will be managed at an "equilibrium level."

    The entire prospect is a vague and absurd proposal that smacks of a frightening fish grab.

    First, state-level fisheries managers are extremely prone to political pressure. State legislatures largely control their funding. History has proven--in this very fishery--that without strong federal laws requiring managers to rebuild and maintain healthy populations, short-term economics and power politics will trump sustainability every time.

    Second, there is no legal or scientific definition of a fishery "in equilibrium." But in the Magnuson-Stevens Act there are statutory definitions of an overfished fishery, a fishery undergoing overfishing, and a rebuilt fishery.

    These definitions are routinely ignored by state chiefs that vote on existing interstate commissions, especially when dealing with species not managed under the auspices of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    One only has to reference the Atlantic striped bass's history, which is "managed" by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and operates about how this red snapper authority would supposedly "work." Striped bass have collapsed and rebuilt and now are currently experiencing overfishing, again.

    Thankfully, this proposal is meeting with diverse opposition: the seafood industry, charter operators, and conscientious private recreational anglers like me.

    Please tell your Congressman that we need to stay the course set by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, stick to science-based management that is proving to work, and avoid half-cocked ideas that will lead the Gulf red snapper population right back to the overfished brink from which it has been rescued.
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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