Lots of things have been going on in the back rooms of NMFS that do not bode well for recreational fishing. The following press releases just came out that should have you as concerned about your fishing rights as you are about the other thnigs that our government is trying to accomplish right now!
Read all of these carefully!
10/6/09 - "The proverbial nail on the head!!!! Same story, same fish, different area, different people, same nmfs science, same nmfs mrfss data. What is the difference in the Gulf you ask? Read it and see, heads up,,,,,, no sos, no for-hire vs pri/rec, no com vs rec, why? they don't make any difference. The problem.......overfishing requirement..........The fix.......passing legislation that relaxes overfishing!!!!!!!!"
October 06, 2009
Possible ban on snapper, grouper fishing would be large-scale
Deep-sea bottom fishing in the southeast is in deep trouble.
A months-long fight between fishermen and federal fisheries managers has come to this:
By late October a decision is expected from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on whether to ban red snapper fishing for at least six months.
By spring, a final decision is expected on an indefinite ban on recreational and commercial fishing from Cape Canaveral to Charleston, S.C., for any kind of snapper or grouper.
That's 73 of the 88 species managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
For Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas -- the states managed by the council -- this fishery management plan could have a very real human price.
In these states, fishing represents 4 to 6 million anglers, more than 100,000 jobs and a multi-billion dollar economic impact.
With so much at stake, the debate between fishermen and the council about the science used to manage fish stocks is boiling into a political fight to change the laws governing fishery management.
Lawsuits to stop the council have been filed in federal court. A bill that would block the council's proposals has been sent to Congress.
More than 100 fishermen attended council public hearings in Stuart in June and Charleston in September.
Capt. Jimmy Hull from Ormond Beach, who was at both meetings, said fishermen walked away feeling "totally disregarded."
'CONTENTIOUS,' 'UNPRECEDENTED' The National Marine Fisheries Service's southeast regional administrator, Dr. Roy Crabtree, said the situation in the South Atlantic is "the most contentious" he's ever seen.
Bob Jones, who has been executive director of commercial fishing's Southeastern Fisheries Association since 1964, said the stakes have never been more serious.
"The only thing this reminds me of is the Florida net ban," Jones said, referring to a 1994 state vote to ban gill nets in inshore waters.
"But this is broader than that," Jones said, "because this is a ban for everybody -- commercial, recreational, charters, divers. It's unprecedented."
To understand how the situation got to this point, you have to go back to 2006 when the Magnuson-Stevens Act governing fishery management came before Congress for reauthorization.
During that process, the act's flexible time frames for ending overfishing were removed. Now any overfishing identified before July 12, 2009, must be stopped within one year. Overfishing identified after that must be stopped in two years.
The council's stock assessment for red snapper was completed in 2008, putting it in the one-year time frame.
The assessment determined that red snapper have been fished for several decades at eight to 14 times the sustainable level and that the population has been fished down to just 3 percent of the historic virgin stock levels existing in 1945.
The reason the council decided that rebuilding red snapper stocks requires shutting down all bottom fishing is its estimation of how many red snapper die after release -- 90 percent for commercial boats and 40 percent for recreational.
Allowing bottom fishing to continue and just releasing red snapper would still kill too many red snapper to end overfishing, the council said.
POINT, COUNTERPOINT Fishermen argue the council's science isn't sound.
They say the council hasn't provided any substantive studies on release mortality rates for red snapper.
Fishermen also dispute council estimates that older red snapper are missing from today's populations. The stock assessment indicates there haven't been any red snapper over the age of 13 in the South Atlantic since 2004. Yet, fishermen sending samples to state labs for age testing caught six fish older than 13 years in just eight days.
The council counters that 75 percent of the 237 red snapper the fishermen submitted were age 4 or younger. That just confirms the assessment's findings, the council said.
The fishing advocacy group Southeastern Fisheries Association hired a scientist to review the council's stock assessment.
That scientist says no real recreational catch data has ever existed. And that catch, according to the stock assessment, represents 66 to 75 percent of the red snapper catch since the 1980s. Since the late '70s, recreational catches have predominantly been based on the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey.
That survey calls random households to estimate the number of fishing trips per household and combines that with surveys at fishing locations about the quantity and variety of fish caught to estimate the recreational catch.
In 2006, Dr. Patrick Sullivan of the National Academy of Sciences gave a report to Congress about that survey and called it "fatally flawed."
As a result, the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act mandated that the survey be updated by January 2009. That didn't happen, although an update is in progress.
LAWSUITS NOW, LAWSUITS LATER The continued use of a survey Congress wants replaced is part of the legal basis for two Recreational Fisheries Alliance lawsuits against the fisheries service being heard in federal court.
Dennis O'Hern, the alliance's executive director, said as soon as the fisheries service publishes a final rule banning red snapper fishing, they'll sue them for that, too.
"It's a numbers game," O'Hern said. "We need to build a new system. They don't have anything on recreational fishing, even today. It's guesswork and speculative at best."
Crabtree of the fisheries service said they ran the snapper models 40 different ways and "it didn't make a whole lot of difference . . . every single run still shows that they're overfishing and overfished."
Capt. David Nelson of Port Orange said he has serious doubts about the council's commercial fishing data.
Nelson spearheaded the fishermen's independent aging study. He wrote a letter to Crabtree telling him when he went to Safe Harbor Seafood in Atlantic Beach to cut the ear bones out of fish needed for the study, no one there had ever seen that before. And Safe Harbor Seafood is "the red snapper capital of the South Atlantic," Nelson said.
Jones of the Southeastern Fisheries Association said this back and forth with the council has been useless.
"I'm not sure there is anything that can change the government's mind once the process gets as far as this one has," he said.
So fishermen are pursuing the possibility of amending the Magnuson Act to restore its flexible time frames.
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, who represents parts of Volusia and Flagler counties, and 10 co-signers have introduced a bill (HR 3307) that would "direct the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a study of the population of red snapper in the south Atlantic" and obtain accurate information before imposing a ban.
the enviros intend to shut fishing down. Thanks ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE FUND!!
I went to the web site listed below and it has the exact post of what is below. It also has a link for you to send an e-mail to your congressman and senator about this fiasco that Washington is trying to pull off. If our children and grandchildren are going to be able to fish we are going to have to fight for it and let Washington know we will not be silent.
"SHIMANO AMERICAN CORPORATION"
More info on another assn who apparently now understands the impact from the enviros and how the recs have been completely ignored. Once again, Thanks EDF!!!
For Immediate Release Mary Jane Williamson, Communications Director,
Obama Administration Ignores $125 Billion Sportfishing Industry in New Ocean and Great Lakes Management Policy
Alexandria, VA – October 5, 2009 – A sweeping oceans and Great Lakes management policy document proposed by the Obama Administration will have a significant impact on the sportfishing industry, America’s saltwater anglers and the nation’s coastal communities. The draft policy, the Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, issued on September 17, will govern federal Pacific and Atlantic Ocean waters and Great Lakes resource conservation and management and will coordinate these efforts among federal, state and local agencies. This past June, President Obama created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), to develop a draft national policy and implementation strategy for conserving and managing the United States ocean territory and the Great Lakes.
“While we are by and large supportive of the intent of the Interim Report, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has serious concerns regarding the direction the administration is taking regarding how to manage our nation’s marine and freshwater public resources, choosing a tone of preservation over conservation,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “We are very disappointed that the task force failed to recognize recreational fishing’s significant conservation, economic and social contributions and include recreational fishing as a key policy component. The sportfishing community strongly supports healthy and abundant ocean, coastal and fishery resources which have a direct impact on sustaining vibrant local coastal communities. Outdoor recreation, especially recreational fishing, is an integral part of coastal economies throughout this nation and therefore should be included as a priority in any national ocean policy.”
“In regards to recreational fishing specifically, it is a long-standing policy of the federal government to allow public access to public lands and waters for recreational purposes consistent with sound conservation including the nation’s wildlife refuges, national forests, and national parks and should be reflected in a national policy for the oceans and Great Lakes. In fact, the use of public resources by recreational anglers is essential to the conservation model used in this country for fish and wildlife management,” said ASA Ocean Resource Policy Director Patty Doerr.
Doerr further said, “As with any good federal policy decision, discussions about measures that may restrict public access to public resources must involve an open public process, have a solid scientific basis and incorporate specific guidelines on implementation and follow-up. We are very concerned about the abbreviated 90 day timeline which forced the Task Force to issue this policy document prematurely. The implications of such a policy are vast and nationwide. Therefore, the review process should be very deliberate and go well beyond the 30 days public review and comment period which started on September 17.” The Task Force's Interim Report is currently under a 30-day public review and comment period.
Since 1950, with the passage of the Sport Fish Restoration Act, anglers and the sportfishing industry have provided the bulk of funding for fisheries conservation and management in the United States through fishing license fees and the federal manufacturers excise tax on recreational fishing equipment. According to NOAA Fisheries, saltwater anglers contribute over $82 billion annually to the economy. Despite taking only three percent of the saltwater fish harvested each year, the recreational sector creates nearly half the jobs coming from domestic saltwater fisheries.
Robertson concluded, “The sportfishing community believes that recreational activities such as responsibly-managed and regulated recreational fishing deserve full consideration and incorporation in the administration’s ocean and Great Lakes policy. Providing the angling public with access to public resources is no less important than conserving those resources. Therefore, we urge the Task Force to include recreational fishing as a separate and distinct ocean and Great Lakes priority. We also urge all anglers and recreational fishing supports to make their voices heard.”
In July, met with White House staff to provide comments to CEQ and the Task Force. In August, ASA staff met with Department of Interior staff to discuss their involvement in the Task Force and provide ASA’s perspective on various ocean policy issues, including marine spatial planning and marine reserves.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America’s 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.