What a good week for the public saltwater anglers who access the federal red snapper fishery aboard federally permitted charter for hire vessels. After 6 yrs of tireless effort by many individual members of the charter for hire industry , Organizations like Charter Fisherman’s Assoc. , Destin Charter Boat Assoc., Orange Beach Fishermen’s Assoc and the Clearwater Boatsman Association and others who have spent thousands of man hours , tens of thousands of dollars of their own money and way too much time away from their businesses and families all to move fishery management into the 21 st century. Finally a major event took place at the Gulf Council meeting held last week in Key West Florida. The reality of the future of status quo management has finally overcome the political agendas of the private boat recreational lobby . Those lobby groups were the driving force behind state non compliance of federal fishing regulations and now that has the possibility of backfiring in their face. With the prospect of ZERO days of recreational red snapper season in federal waters next year and due to states non compliance and a pressing federal law suit ruling that has forced the NMFS and the Gulf Council to make major changes in how they approach managing the recreational sector, the NMFS and Gulf Council has begun the process to develop a new system with new tools in place to manage the recreational sector. We had presented a plan in Oct of 2008 that would allow the NMFS to manage the recreational sector in a manner that in time will bring increased access to all recreational fishermen not just a select group like what is taking place now in state waters.
That plan is now being fleshed out in the amendment process as Am 40. It will be imparitive that members of the industry and their customers who love to fish offshore with their favorite Captain get involved in the next step of the amendment process. There will be public hearings in all 5 coastal states and public comment taken of the Gulf Council web site to express your support for the separate management of the two components of the Recreational sector.the Private Boat sector and Charter for hire Sector will each have 2 distinct management plans that will best address the access needs of each sector. And with greater accountability , no over fishing of annual allocations and a more robust and timely data collection system will finally regain access to rebuilding fish stocks. So watch your paper, e-mail and Facebook for details of when and where these public hearings will take place. Also go to the NMFS Gulf Council web site and klick on public comment page to support amendment 40 going forward .
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