Why we have a world class fishery and a antique FMP?
29 Jan 2016

To continue on the subject from the last post lets take a look at the subject of allocation and why its not the problem of shorter seasons

Yep it finally happened and no one is talking about it. The so call fatally flawed fishery science has agreed with fishermen and says that the red snapper fishery is in good shape …..for now. This past year the science said we can harvest 14.1 million pounds of red snapper annually and still stay on target to rebuild the fishery in 2032. How’s that for increased access? In 2007 the entire annual allocation was 5.1 million, talk about science giving us a bunch of fish to catch. But wait a minute why with this world class level of allocation, the largest in over 30 years did the recreational private boat angler only get 11 days in the EEZ ? I have the answer, It’s called the “STATE WATER LOOP HOLE” the private boat owning anglers need to thanks their state fish commissions and the private boat lobby for their short federal season.

The majority of red snapper annual harvest for the private angling sector are now being harvested by state water non compliant seasons. With encouragement by these states to disregard federal regulators they also have sent a signal to anglers that it’s ok to poach out into the federal EEZ and harvest fish and just haul ass back into state waters. With little to no enforcement of federal law ( even thought the states get hundreds of thousands in joint law enforcement funds from the NMFS ) the state commissions have their LEO turn in a blind eye to violators. Texas got fish 365 days at 4 fish inside of 9 miles . Same for Louisiana (3 mile state water line) who gave their anglers 257 days. And Florida gave 6 coastal counties out of 23 a nice 70 days state water season even though millions of its own residents in those 17 other coastal counties do not have any red snapper in the 9 mile state waters.

This is one of the reasons the charter for hire sector worked so hard to get separated from the private boat sector with Amendment 40. They could not fish in these non compliant seasons and their anglers lost their historical access in the EEZ because the annual allocation was being harvested by private boat anglers supposedly fishing in state waters.They saw scorched earth policy promoted by private boat angler lobby as a sinking ship and new that this political lobby had little if any regard for the segment of recreational anglers who fished on their charter and head boat vessels. By the private boat recreational lobby clinging to status Quo which was creating shorter and shorter seasons, the Charter for hire sector realized that this lobby had no intention to work towards solutions to address access issues or share the resource with al anglers.

In 1996 the NMFS put a limited access privilege permit system into effect only on charter boats as a attempt to constrain harvest and effort in pelagic and reef fish fisheries. Their mistake at that time was the fact they did not address the growing private boat sector which exploded with the population shifts into the coastal states, technology advances like LORAN and GPS, and reliable boats and engines .
So in a lack of foresight, the managers at that time did not develop a plan to address the growth of participants in both sectors and as a result the public salt waters anglers who had been accessing EEZ fisheries for over 80 years via the CFH industry found themselves being shut out of the fishery by reductions caused by unfair access rules and actions by coastal states using the state water loop hole.

So now with Amendment 40 as law the CFH sector is already working on two separate FMP’s. Am 41 &. 42 One to address the needs for the charter boat sector and another to address the access need of the head boat sector. This can do attitude would serve the private anglers well by taking their portion of the red snapper annual allocation and get involved in the development of a new FMP that can address their access needs to the fishery. Right now the private boat lobby and the states are stealing your federal access with a scorched earth policy that has relegated them to have to fish the majority of that allocation in state waters. Well that may be fine for some but the majority of the bio mass and the majority of all private boat anglers do not have a state water fishery. Mr private boat angler don’t you think it’s time you get a 21 st century fishery management plan that will give you increased access to rebuilding fisheries? If you do then you need to send that message to your state commissions that the CCA,RFA, FRA and ASA don’t speak for you or the average boat owning recreational saltwater angler.

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