WELCOME CHEF NICK WALLACE, MISSISSIPPI CO-CHAIR

Share the Gulf is thrilled to announce that Chef Nick Wallace of Jackson, Mississippi has joined the Coalition as its newest co-chair! Chef Wallace grew up farming in Edwards, Mississippi, a personal history that clearly shapes his ongoing commitment to promoting “slow food” and farmto- table cuisine with decidedly Southern roots. Chef Wallace combines his family farm origins with a sophisticated French technique to create his modern Mississippi cuisine that is exceptionally pleasing to the palate. He credits his grandmothers, Queen Morris and Lennel Donald for his beginning in culinary arts.

Chef Wallace is Mississippi’s first Food Network Chopped Champion, Alton’s Challenge and featured on Food Network’s Cut Throat Kitchen. He has been afforded the opportunities to present five James Beard Foundation “Mississippi Themed” dinners in New York and featured in Southern Living magazine. He’s the Founder and Executive Chef of Creativity Kitchen, a childhood nutrition-focused non-profit organization, which teaches students and school chefs how to grow their own food and use it in the kitchen.

“Everyone should have access to fresh, real food. Share the Gulf’s mission of protecting access to fresh, wild seafood for people who might not be able to go fishing for it themselves really resonates for me,” explained Wallace. “Especially when dealing with natural resources that actually feed people, we need to make sure we are managing in a way that ensures access for the future; that’s why I support responsible, sustainable management of fisheries.”

Learn more about Chef Wallace at his website, and please join us in welcoming him to the team!

UNLIKELY BEDFELLOWS FIND COMMON CAUSE IN FAIRNESS AND SCIENCE

Some people might assume that the mission behind an institution like the Texas State Aquarium would be at odds with the goals of professional fishermen in a group like the Galveston Professional Boatmen’s Association (GPBA). However, not unlike other stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico that have found a common cause in working for fair access and sustainable management. Both of those groups have joined forces under the umbrella of Share the Gulf. Please welcome the two newest organizational supporters and first-ever Aquarium!

Share the Gulf celebrated the occasion with a reception in the Aquarium’s new Caribbean Sea Exhibit, co-sponsored by the Charter Fisherman’s Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Water Street Catering, Morgan Street Seafood, and of course, the Texas State Aquarium and GPBA. Surrounded by the fish we love to watch, catch and in some cases, eat, the venue could not have been more fitting.

Texas State Aquarium’s sustainability and conservation efforts span from on-site resource conservation to angler education programs for the community, but the most direct connection to Share the Gulf is its Seafood Wars program. By bringing top local chefs to provide hands-on experiences with sustainably caught and raised seafood, the Aquarium improves consumer choices and heightens demand for local, responsibly managed fish. “As a fixture in a coastal community, we feel a duty to bring awareness to the important role that responsibly managed fisheries, including sport fisheries play in conserving resources today, and for future generations. We support Share the Gulf’s commitment to promoting fair access to a sustainably managed seafood supply chain here in the Gulf,” Tom Schmid, President and CEO at the Aquarium noted.

Galveston Professional Boatmen’s Association is unique in its representation of different user groups—its members include commercial fishermen, charter fishing  captains and seafood dealers, mainly based in Texas’ biggest fishing port. “Fresh caught, sustainable seafood and world class fishing are what make Galveston the crown jewel of the Gulf,” said Captain Greg Ball, GPBA President. “To keep that heritage alive, we have to make sure that access to the fish is fair among users, and that all users are held accountable to sustainable practices so that we can hand this shared American resource down to future generations.”

Greg Ball, President of the Galveston Professional Boatmen’s Association, at the Share the Gulf Booth
Jesse Gilbert, Vice President and COO of the Texas State Aquarium addresses the crowd
Attendees at the Caribbean Sea Exhibit

 

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THANK YOU FOR OPPOSING H.R. 200

Earlier this month the House of Representatives passed a dangerous bill, H.R. 200, which puts the future of Gulf fishing in jeopardy. Although it passed, many Gulf lawmakers stood up and voted against the bill. Their votes helped ensure broad, bipartisan opposition that will let the U.S. Senate know that H.R. 200 is not worth voting on.

Via the form below, please take a moment today to see if your Representative was one of those lawmakers and send them an email thanking them for opposing H.R. 200 and listening to the concerns of fishermen, chefs, conservationists, and consumers across the Gulf of Mexico.

BAD FISHERIES BILL CLEARS HOUSE BUT ATTRACTS BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION

July 11, 2018

Bad Fisheries Bill Clears House But Attracted Bipartisan Opposition
Leading Gulf Republicans Among Those Opposed

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives ignored the concerns of fishermen, chefs, conservationists, and consumers across the country today when they passed H.R. 200. This dangerous bill has the potential to do irreversible damage to our nation’s fisheries and undermine years of hard work and sacrifice from fishing communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

If this bill were to become law, it would create loopholes for science-based catch limits, make wide-ranging exceptions to rebuilding requirements, and establish new unnecessary hurdles to use tools proven to improve fisheries management. This bill also aims to ban catch share programs, which have been essential for rebuilding important Gulf fish stocks like red snapper.
The following are statements from Share the Gulf Coalition Members:

From Capt. Chad Haggert, a headboat operator from Clearwater, Florida and Share the Gulf Co-Chair:

“H.R. 200 is bad for conservation and it’s bad for my business. It doesn’t solve any problems recreational fishermen are facing, it just creates new ones by threatening fisheries with the risk of overfishing, stifling innovation and creating bans and hurdles for proven tools.”

From Chef Haley Bittermann of New Orleans, Louisiana and Share the Gulf Co-Chair:

“Fishing and seafood are not just important to the Gulf economy; they are a part of our heritage. I love to go fishing with my family. I know folks in the Gulf are frustrated by the shortened federal seasons for red snapper. But this bill threatens the conservation standards and throws away the hard work that helped bring snapper populations back after years and years of decline.”

From Capt. David Walker, a commercial fisherman from Andalusia, Alabama and Share the Gulf Co-Chair:

“H.R. 200 places new bans and restrictions on tools like catch shares that have helped rebuild the red snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico. It takes authority away from local decision-makers on the regional fishery councils and politicizes those councils with time-consuming, contentious reviews of fish allocations. Recreational fishermen already take home 70% of the most popular species in the Gulf of Mexico, and commercial fishermen are not asking for more.”

From Ryan Bradley, a commercial fisherman from Pass Christian, Mississippi and Executive Director of Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United:

“H.R. 200 weakens science-based decision-making and bans important tools that have helped rebuild troubled Gulf species like red snapper while placing new bureaucratic hurdles in front of fishermen. Some proponents of H.R. 200 claim the bill is needed to help recreational fishermen, but the fact is, it would cause more harm than good, especially for conservation efforts and the commercial fishermen that provide the entire country with fresh and sustainable Gulf seafood.”

 

H.R. 200 WOULD HURT GULF FISHING AND CONSERVATION

*This letter signed by Chef Hugo Ortega and Capt. Steve Tomeny was distributed to our grassroots network and Members of Congress.

A dangerous bill that would hurt the gulf is about to get a vote on the House floor. H.R. 200 would undermine years of progress and hurt fishing and seafood businesses, the sustainability of Gulf fish, and Americans everywhere who love to eat or catch fish. We urge Members of Congress to vote NO on this harmful bill.

Tell your Member of Congress to keep our nation’s fisheries strong and healthy by voting NO on H.R. 200.

The turnaround of U.S. fisheries is a remarkable bipartisan success story. Dozens of stocks have recovered to healthy levels thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our world-class federal fisheries law. H.R. 200 would put all that at risk.

The MSA was authored by Republicans and Democrats, working together with a broad coalition of user groups. But H.R. 200 is opposed by fishermen, chefs, conservationists, and consumers around country, and it lacks meaningful bipartisan support. It would harm our nation’s fisheries by creating loopholes for science-based catch limits, making wide-ranging exceptions to rebuilding requirements, and establishing new unnecessary hurdles to use tools proven to improve fisheries management. This bill also aims to ban catch share programs, which have been essential for rebuilding important Gulf fish stocks like red snapper.

H.R. 200 would also mandate periodic time-consuming and contentious allocation reviews for almost three dozen species, which distract regional fishery management councils from solving other important problems and threaten fair access to fish for all stakeholders including the public. Currently, red snapper quota is shared roughly 50-50 between commercial and recreational fishermen, but more broadly recreational fishermen take home 70% of the Gulf’s most popular fish.

We urge Members of Congress to stand up for strong, healthy fisheries and the communities they support. Please vote NO on H.R. 200.

The future of our region depends on sustainable Gulf fisheries. We appreciate you taking our concerns into account.

 

Sincerely,

Hugo Ortega
Chef and Co-Owner of Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol, and Xochi
Share the Gulf Co-Chair
Houston, Texas

 

Capt. Steve Tomeny
Charter and Commercial Fisherman
Share The Gulf Co-Chair
Golden Meadow, Louisiana

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHO GETS THE FISH

You may not know it, but there is a fight happening right now in the Gulf of Mexico and in Congress that could determine whether your favorite Gulf fish, like red snapper, will remain a regular menu item and seafood case staple. Fights like this have happened before, with redfish and other species moving from shared to only recreationally caught, but this time things are different.

How we divide the amount or allocation of fish between commercial fishermen, charter/for-hire captains and private recreational anglers has long been a tough topic to tackle. We believe that the question of “who gets the fish?” is one of fairness. Recreational anglers deserve access; but so do the seafood-loving public when they visit their favorite restaurant or grocery story.

Here are the facts. Recreational fishermen currently take home 70% of the Gulf’s most popular fish, leaving 30% to be sold in restaurants and grocery stores. Recreational anglers land an overwhelming majority of species like amberjack, cobia, red drum, king mackerel, spotted seatrout, and triggerfish. For Gulf red snapper, the division of quota between the recreational and seafood sectors is more balanced: roughly 50-50.

 ****

(Sources: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council 2018 Annual Catch Limits, MRIP Recreational Landings Database, SERO Recreational and Commercial Landings Summaries, NOAA Southeast Region Headboat Survey, Louisiana Recreational Creel Survey)

*Cobia and Spanish mackerel are managed by shared annual catch limits. Allocations were calculated by landings for 2016 for those species.

**No federal fishery. States allow limited commercial harvest for grandfathered permits.

***The Red snapper recreational fishery is separated by sector. Total includes the private angler, charter, and headboat sectors.

Landings numbers are from data available as of June 2018 and do not include recalibrated MRIP data released in July.

Totals missing potentially significant recreational landings from Texas for Red drum, Spotted seatrout, King mackerel, and Spanish mackerel.

Access to Gulf Seafood is in Jeopardy

While the vast majority of recreational fishermen are responsible and want to share the resource, lobbyists claiming to represent them are working around the clock to change the allocation of fish like red snapper. These efforts take direct aim at coastal businesses and livelihoods across the Gulf – and a way of life that goes back generations. If they succeed, sustainable Gulf seafood like red snapper could disappear from menus and dinner tables across the country.

Proposals in Congress and new efforts at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council could make this threat a reality. Two bills, H.R. 200 and S. 1520, would mandate periodically reviewing allocation of almost three dozen species in the South Atlantic and Gulf, which would exacerbate tensions between sectors and consume endless time and energy.

In fact, this question often gets far more attention than other issues vital to Gulf fisheries, such as fish biology, enforcement of regulations and habitat conservation. And too often, taking fish from one group for the benefit of another is falsely offered as a solution to other problems. In this case, it is being offered as a false promise to fix the broken way we manage recreational fishing.

Reallocation will not fix the broken recreational management system

The irony is that while reallocation could do profound harm to the Gulf seafood industry, it will do little to increase fishing opportunities for recreational anglers. Meaningful change will only come through improved data collection and reformed management to bring recreational fisheries into the 21st Century.

Fortunately, there are signs of progress. For example, Louisiana has invested in much-improved data collection that will allow fishing for red snapper throughout much of the summer with the same quota. Better science and accountability can result in increased private angler access or satisfaction without harming other sectors or the resource, a promise reallocation can’t make. After all, as red snapper has rebounded, the amount of fish allocated for fishing — including for recreational fishermen — has nearly tripled over the last ten years, and the broken management system still led to shortened seasons and recreational quota overages.

Anglers deserve a better management system that gives them more flexible access to the red snapper fishery. That’s why the Share the Gulf Coalition – which includes private anglers, for-hire fishermen, commercial fishermen, chefs, restaurateurs, hospitality associations, and environmental groups – opposes efforts to forcibly reallocate fish in favor of spending our time on more promising proposals like pilot projects to test state-based management of private angler fishing of red snapper.

We Need Your Help!

The Share the Gulf Coalition is working with Members of Congress, Gulf Governors, the Gulf Council, and others to find solutions that can work for everyone. We will encourage decision-makers to keep sustainably caught Gulf seafood on the table for the millions of Americans who don’t fish or own their own boats. We will also advocate for fixing the underlying problems that have led to shortened seasons so anglers get more flexible access to the fishery.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Click here to let your Member of Congress know that you oppose legislation that mandates time-consuming, periodic allocation reviews, as they consume valuable council time and don’t produce meaningful results.
  • Sign up to receive Share the Gulf updates and action alerts at the bottom of this page.
  • Get more involved by joining the Share the Gulf Coalition.

 

 

 

CONGRESSIONAL PROPOSALS THREATEN THE GULF’S SEAFOOD AND FISHING HERITAGE: OPPOSE H.R. 200 AND S. 1520

The recovery of Gulf of Mexico red snapper is one of America’s greatest comeback stories. It’s also part of the remarkable trend occurring across the country with more and more fish stocks recovering and becoming sustainable. In the Gulf region, the hard work of fishermen, managers, and conservationists, under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), has increased the amount of Gulf fish on the menu, on fishermen’s lines, and in the water. But that success is under threat by proposals in Congress.

The problematic bills could undermine years of progress, posing a threat to small businesses throughout the Gulf and to Americans everywhere who love to eat or catch fish. As currently drafted, H.R. 200 and S. 1520 could hurt seafood and fishing businesses and the long-term conservation of Gulf of Mexico fisheries, including red snapper.

That’s why thousands of Share the Gulf supporters—from chefs and fishermen to conservationists and consumers—oppose H.R. 200 and S. 1520 as currently drafted.

H.R. 200 Threatens Fishing and Seafood Businesses and the Sustainability of Gulf Fish

H.R. 200 would weaken existing law and make it less effective. The current MSA has enabled the United States to boast one of the best regulatory systems in the world. In fact, the MSA has successfully rebuilt over 40 species, several of which are essential to the commercial fishing, restaurant, and tourism industries. Both previous reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act were overwhelmingly bipartisan. But because H.R. 200 has many dangerous provisions, it lacks broad support from stakeholders and meaningful bipartisan support.

S. 1520 Is Anything but Modern and Would Rollback Progress Nationwide

S. 1520 is deceptively titled “the Modern Fish Act.” But don’t be fooled. Even after revisions, the bill still undermines the innovative approaches that are essential for modern fisheries management. The bill is largely motivated by the need to improve recreational management, but rather than solving problems facing anglers, the bill creates a whole new set of problems. The bill would take away important conservation tools, while gridlocking our regional fishery management council with contentious fights over fish allocations that challenge public access to seafood and don’t really solve any problems.

Dangerous and Problematic Provisions

As currently drafted, both H.R. 200 and S. 1520 mandate unproductive fish allocation battles and take aim at proven and valuable fisheries management tools. The bills:

  • Mandate time-consuming and unproductive allocation reviews. Both bills require regional councils to undertake time-consuming and contentious allocation reviews within two years of enactment and every five years thereafter. Historically, allocation reviews have not produced meaningful results, instead distracting the councils from solving other important problems and threatening the stability of the seafood supply chain and the public’s access to seafood.
  • Ban catch share programs. The bills would establish a temporary (and potentially indefinite) ban on new catch share programs, even though catch shares have completely stopped overfishing of red snapper in the commercial fishing sector and contributed to rebuilding the fishery, increasing safety at sea and helping to stabilize industries that rely on seafood.
  • Create unnecessary hurdles to innovation. While the exact provisions are different, both bills create additional burdens for scientific research pilot programs known as Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), which have long been a way for fishermen and researchers to form collaborations and pioneer solutions to some of the most difficult fisheries challenges. H.R. 200 goes as far to ban the use of EFPs to test new catch share programs, a valuable and proven management tool.

In addition, H.R. 200 in its current form threatens the sustainability of fish populations in the Gulf and nationwide and creates new problematic procedures for councils. The legislation:

  • Creates loopholes to science-based catch limits. H.R. 200 creates unclear and broad-sweeping exemptions from science-based catch limits, a bedrock management tool of the current law which has led to the recovery of dozens of species. These exemptions could significantly increase the risk of overfishing for a large number of species.
  • Punts on our commitment to rebuilding struggling species. The bill makes wide-ranging exceptions to requirements to rebuild depleted fish populations, leaving struggling species without the measures needed to fully recover in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Undermines regional control to pursue proven solutions. H.R.200 creates new bureaucratic requirements to establish new catch share programs for the East Coast. In the Gulf, it allows people with very little connection to the fishery to block a new catch share program which could stall common-sense, effective progress in fisheries management.

Stand up for Healthy Gulf Fisheries and Those who Depend on Them

Unless we take action, there is a real possibility that the full House and Senate will pass these bills in their current forms and they will become law. Let your Member of Congress know that you oppose these bills. The future of our region depends on healthy and sustainable Gulf fisheries.

 

FISHERMEN AND CHEFS STAND FIRM IN OPPOSITION TO H.R. 200 AND S. 1520

Thousands of Share the Gulf supporters—from chefs and fishermen to conservationists and consumers—have weighed in to oppose H.R. 200 and S. 1520 in their current forms.

Florida fisherman Chad Haggert wrote an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times describing the bills as unnecessary and threatening the progress being made by fishermen. He states, “H.R. 200 and S. 1520 are largely driven by the need to fix the broken recreational management system in the Gulf. But unlike these new state pilot programs, these bills don’t solve any problems, they just create new ones by threatening fisheries with the risk of overfishing and creating bans and hurdles for proven tools.”

Other industry leaders around the country are speaking out against these harmful bills, including Alabama fisherman David Walker who wrote a powerful piece in The Hill. He explains how proposals like S. 1520 undermine the health and productivity of fisheries in the Gulf and around the country.

Capt. James Bruce, a long-time commercial fisherman from Mississippi, asserts that “congressional bills that could undermine science and harm a business I have built from the ground up, are not the solution.”

More than 30 fishing organizations from across the country have written to Congress expressing concerns about S. 1520. They joined a group of more than 175 chefs, restaurant owners, and seafood dealers, including signatories from all five Gulf States, who sent a letter to Congress opposing these bills.

Dozens of prominent New Orleans chefs sent a letter to Congress encouraging legislators to protect the strong science-based conservation standards of our top fisheries law.

In April, Chef Rick Moonen wrote a column for the Las Vegas Sun about how these bills will negatively affect his business and those of other restaurateurs in Las Vegas, which collectively serve large volumes of seafood including from the Gulf. In the op-ed, he encourages Congress “to hold the line and ensure any changes to Magnuson-Stevens are built on what works: science-based management, strong accountability and a commitment to Nevada businesses and visitors who want to enjoy sustainable seafood for generations to come.”

And in July, Texas chef Monica Pope expressed her opposition in the Houston Chronicle, noting that H.R. 200 would undermine conservation gains and advising those in the seafood supply chain that “We can’t gamble on our future by undoing the progress we have worked so hard to make.” Pappas Restaurants, the iconic Texas-based company with over 100 restaurants in seven states, urged Members of Congress to oppose H.R. 200, writing that the bill “pits private anglers against commercial fishermen and seafood suppliers” and “jeopardizes the health of fish stocks that the market depends on.”

The leading organization representing commercial red snapper fishermen, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, sent a letter expressing their concerns.

The Seafood Harvesters of America oppose S. 1520 as introduced, explaining that, “Improving recreational fishery management doesn’t require undercutting commercial fishery management, yet this bill is much more focused on the latter than on the former.” They also sent a separate letter on  H.R. 200 saying “it would do very little to improve the management of the recreational fishing industry while severely undermining the sacrifices the commercial fishing industry has made to ensure that we are sustainably harvesting fisheries resources.”

Additionally, Gulf and South Atlantic commercial fishing affiliates of national fishing organizations currently oppose the bill, raising their own concerns over other problematic provisions of H.R. 200 that would impact the region.

More than 70 conservation organizations sent a letter expressing opposition to H.R. 200, emphasizing that “…Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization should build on the progress we have made, not lower the bar for management success.” The League of Conservation Voters sent a letter in opposition to H.R. 200 stating it “would severely undermine the science-based conservation tools under current law that are essential in preventing overfishing…” Prominent conservation groups also joined the opposition to S. 1520 and sent a letter to Congress stating that they are “united in opposing efforts that would roll back the provisions in the law that have brought on-the-water success for our nation’s fisheries.”

They join advocates from Florida, like Suncoast Waterkeeper Justin Bloom who wrote a piece in The Sarasota News Leader, expressing concerns about how H.R. 200 would hurt Florida’s fisheries. Former National Marine Fisheries Service leaders William Hogarth and Steven Murawski wrote in The Tampa Bay Times about the importance of opposing H.R. 200 and protecting the current law, saying, “Rebuilding stocks has resulted in increases in fisheries yields and translated into lower prices to consumers, more business-friendly approaches to commercial fisheries management and more healthy recreational fisheries.”

Carol Dover, the CEO and President of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, penned an op-ed in The Tallahassee Democrat urging Florida’s Congressional delegation to vote against H.R. 200. She wrote, “The health of Florida’s fisheries is of critical importance to the future of our great state. H.R. 200 is bad for the seafood industry and bad for conservation.”

Join the thousands of Share the Gulf supporters in opposing these bills. Tell your Member of Congress to keep our Gulf fisheries strong and healthy.

Learn more about the bills here. 

MISSISSIPPI COMMERCIAL FISHERIES UNITED JOINS SHARE THE GULF

The Gulf of Mexico’s fishing and seafood tradition has especially deep roots in Mississippi. In fact, Biloxi was known as the “Seafood Capital of the World” at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United (MSCFU) and its Executive Director, Ryan Bradley, have a plan to honor the state’s fishing heritage and strengthen its industry, with a timely focus on sustainability. MSCFU is now joining the Share the Gulf Coalition, which includes more than a dozen organizations and hundreds of chefs, restaurant owners, seafood industry representatives, and fishermen.

“Mississippi shellfish and seafood is generally harvested using the most ecologically sustainable methods we have globally, and targeting species that are really abundant and fresh,” Bradley explained. “We want to bring that sustainably sourced, healthy seafood to the public and help to expand opportunities for the fishermen who bring it to us—most of whom come from generations and generations of fishing.”

Ryan, Bradley, Executive Director of the MSCFU speaking at the event in Gulfport, MS on April 18, 2018.

With its focus on promoting stewardship in the commercial fishing industry and fair access to Gulf seafood, MSCFU is an important addition to the Share the Gulf coalition as Mississippi’s commercial fishing sector can be underrepresented in discussions about fisheries laws.

“It’s great to see more commercial fishermen getting involved in the management and seafood arenas,” said Eric Brazer, Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, also a member of the Share the Gulf Coalition. “We’re excited that they’ve agreed to join Share the Gulf and bring their generations of expertise to this coalition.”

In that vein, Share the Gulf, MSCFU, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and the Charter Fisherman’s Association co-hosted a reception at Salute Italian & Seafood Restaurant in Gulfport, MS on April 18, 2018. Attended by Mississippi Congressional legislative staff, members of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and high-level representatives of the National Marine Fisheries Service, the event gave the coalition a chance to formally welcome MSCFU to its ranks and spread the message that fair and sustainable access to the Gulf’s fishery resources is a Mississippi tradition.

You can learn more about MSCFU by clicking here.

NEW GULF PILOTS APPROVED FOR STATE MANAGEMENT OF RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER FISHING

Gulfport, Mississippi – The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced its approval today of pilot programs, formally known as Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), which will give the five Gulf states a chance to test state-based management of private angler fishing of red snapper. Approval of the plans was announced by regional administrator, Dr. Roy Crabtree, during an open session of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Share the Gulf members expressed support for this pilot in a letter submitted during the public comment period with a few caveats to ensure that the plans would not unfairly impact other fishermen in the for-hire sector and would adhere to core conservation principles.

In line with a strong recommendation made in the letter, the permits were modified to exclude the charter for-hire industry and focus the experiment on the private angling component. In addition, the plans include crucial measures to ensure the experimental method complies with the Magnuson-Stevens Act including science-based catch limits and robust data collection to monitor catch.

Statement from David Walker, commercial fisherman from Andalusia, Alabama and Share the Gulf Co-Chair:

“I am excited about this opportunity for the Gulf to find a new way to manage fishing for private anglers, who have been hamstrung by conflicting state and federal seasons. We appreciate that this plan is built with sustainability in mind and ensures fair access for all, including the charter and commercial sectors.”

Statement from Chef Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and Share the Gulf Co Chair:

“I commend NMFS and the Gulf states for making sure the final plans aim to fix the broken recreational management system without hurting other sectors of the fishery. As a chef and an angler, I want to see us move beyond proposals that pit us against one another. I know there’s a way to improve things for anglers like me in a fair and sustainable way.”