I sent the following to a group of people that write letters when conservation issues arise. If you would like to be included in this group, let me know by e-mail. If you can help by writing a few letters each year to the various agencies, we might get some action on the conservation of our fisheries.

Capt. Charlie


The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is meeting in Jan. to discuss and rule on several issues that will be sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval. See the news release once it's posted at:

I'm attaching two letters in Word format(click here to see them) that I will be sending tomorrow. You may use them as an example if you like, but please try to word yours somewhat differently. If everyone just cuts and pastes then the importance of the requests are somewhat diluted.

The crux of the news release is that the council will be discussing setting a total allowable catch (TAC) for red grouper. Grouper have never been broken out by species before, it's always been a TAC for all grouper in the Gulf with a few exceptions. This may be a step in the right direction since they closed black, red, and gag grouper for one month. There are still other species of grouper that can be legally landed during this closure, so my fear is that no change will occur in the amount of fish killed.

You can see the federal commercial regulations at:

Don't forget to read the updates as well.

As for the shrimp letter. there are over 3500 shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico at the latest guesstimate. Neither the owners, operators, or the vessels are required to be licensed or permitted. This means that unlike the rest of the commercial industry, if they are caught illegally fishing, they are simply fined (it's only a misdemeanor) and released to continue. For the rest of the commercial industry there is the possibility of losing their license or at least having it sanctioned so they may not fish for some period of time as part of the punishment.

Shrimp trawls kill 10 to 15 pounds of fin fish for every pound of shrimp caught. That is why the TEDs (Turtle Excluder Devices) and the BRDs (By-catch Reduction Devices) are so important. The most common infraction of shrimp boats involve either improper use or no use of these devices. Since they are not licensed, there is really no way to keep them from fishing as part of the punishment for this or any other infraction of the laws.

They should be required to have a license just like everyone else and in order to stop the owner of the boat, if he is involved, to simply put another captain on it and continue fishing, the boats need to be permitted as well or there would be no way to stop unscrupulous owners from continuing to break the law.

Thanks All,

Capt. Charlie