Well the announcement was made. Only 3 day red snapper season in federal waters for the private boat sector. They are outraged, and rightfully should be because all the parties involved with management of their sector and the allocation set aside just for private boat owners is being grossly mismanaged. The biggest question is why the surprise? Steadily over the past 5 years the federal water seasons got shorter while the state water seasons got longer, doesn’t that raise a eye brow if your a private boat fisherman? All of a sudden with just a 3 day season it’s the NMFS fault that they have been squeezed out of the federal fishery. Well some of it is the NMFS fault because the NMFS haven’t put any pressure on state commissions to be good partners in the co management of the fishery. Some of it because the NMFS and the states won’t fix the data collection system and the end modeling that results in the loss of fishing access in a rebuilding fishery. Neither the states or the NMFS have been willing to improve the system. The NMFS is lazy and stands by the wayside and shrugs their shoulders and says ” our hands are tied the states are forcing the private boat anglers to harvest most of the annual allocation in state waters” The states unsatisfied with the data system and the outcome of the data they produce, says if we go compliant our anglers only get 15 -20 days of federal water fishing and at the encouragement of angler rights groups have decided to have 365 , 273 , 78 , 64 and 64 days seasons in Tx,La,FL,Al and MS respectively.
So what’s the problem and what’s the answer? First is money, to improve real harvest or effort data collection that is scientifically acceptable and most importantly, verifiable with some sort of scientific error built in that is measurable cost a crap ton of money. This iss a financial commitment that neither the states or the NMFS wants to make. This is where private boat anglers can make a difference by political pressure to get their states and the NMFS to find permanent funding for a better system. Second is lack of will by the states ( who collect the data and would be the first place to improve the data ) to put a system of permits , endorsements or tags to better capture harvest and effort. Up till now the states have relied on the NMFS to carry the ball and yet decried the outcome even though they are complicit in the data collection failure. Lately a couple of states have taken some BP disaster money to run a souped up version of the MRIPP system but they all fall short of what’s actually going to work. In most cases so far, even the private boat angler hasn’t participated in the programs with paltry 25% or less participation in what is supposed to be a mandatory program. Again these states don’t put any teeth into the reporting requirement so apathy wins out. So what’s the answer to overcome these grand failures by both the states and the NMFS to improve federal access to federal waters fisheries? check out my next blog tomorrow to learn more. Until then “Lets Go Fishin”
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