December 4, 2013 – The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is urging saltwater anglers from throughout the Gulf of Mexico to respond online at Regulations.gov in favor of increasing red snapper allocation for the recreational fishing community.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering a change in the allocation with the aim of increasing the net benefits from red snapper fishing and increasing the stability of the red snapper component of the reef fish fishery, particularly the recreational sector which has experienced shorter and shorter seasons. Under proposals within Amendment 28 to the fishery management plan for reef fish resources of the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Council could move forward with an allocation plan that provides up to 100% of any red snapper quota that is above 9.12 million pounds to the recreational sector.
RFA executive director Jim Donofrio has sent official comments to the Gulf Council on behalf of the recreational community, and said any plan to provide at minimum 90% of any red snapper quota above that 9.12-million-pound quota would help give equal opportunity for anglers to enjoy the benefits of a rebuilding red snapper stock.
“This is not an allocation war, this is about helping reallocate a portion of the quota over and above the present threshold towards the recreational sector in order to help increase the opportunity for anglers to fish,” he said.
“Based on the alternative proposals outlined in Reef Fish Amendment 28 calling for an increase in the recreational red snapper quota only if the total snapper quota is greater than 9.12 million pounds, RFA would support adjusting the allocation percentage of any additional red snapper quota to a minimum of 90% for the recreational sector and 10% for the commercial sector, until a point at which fisheries managers determine that anglers can return to the original 195-day fishing season and four fish bag limit,” Donofrio said in the letter.
“This limited adjustment to dealing with additional quota above the 9.12-million-pound is truly the fair approach, in that it provides both sectors with a return to sensible harvest numbers previously enjoyed by both sectors at the start of the red snapper rebuilding period,” he added.
RFA is encouraging anglers to go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0146 to enter their own comments before the deadline of Monday, December 9, 2013.
To read RFA’s official comments, go to www.rfa.tvsdev.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/GulfRedSnapper122013.pdf.
Anglers who wish to respond can also copy and paste any or all of the following comments into the Regulations.gov web form.
I fully support the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council revising the commercial/recreational allocation for red snapper and developing an allocation mechanism that would be more fair and equitable for the recreational fishing community. I believe this action is necessary for several reasons.
First, the commercial red snapper fishery is under an individual fishing quota or IFQ system which affords permit holders exclusive rights to a public resource. As the red snapper stock has rebuilt, commercial fishermen land their quota quicker, with less effort and in the absence of competition. They are realizing huge or even excessive economic benefits from the red snapper rebuilding success.
Since they have exclusive ownership of the commercial component of the resource they actually need less fish to make the same amount of money. Furthermore, it is not good public policy to support a management approach that encourages a concentration of ownership by a few at the expense of the general public.
Secondly, a rebuilding red snapper population will not benefit the recreational sector unless the current allocation is revised. As more red snapper become available to recreational anglers, the quota will be caught quicker resulting in shorter seasons. This ultimately reduces recreational opportunities, decreasing the socioeconomic output of the recreational red snapper fishery and basically defeating the entire desire to rebuild fish stocks. Most people will agree that a management approach that disadvantages the recreational sector as a stock rebuilds is not fair and lacks basic common sense.
For these reasons, I fully support efforts by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to move forward with an allocation mechanism that provides at minimum 90% of any red snapper quota above 9.12 million pounds to the recreational sector.
The recreational sector should be given equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a rebuilt fish stock, and I would encourage the Gulf Council to allocate the majority of red snapper quota over 9.12 million pounds to the recreational fishing community.