An update from David Walker and Stephen Stryjewski:
Earlier this week, despite opposition from fishermen, chefs, conservationists, and consumers, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced S. 1520, a bill that threatens progress made in the Gulf to sustainably manage fisheries and the ability to provide fresh, local seafood to Gulf communities.
While we are disappointed, we are encouraged by the opposition recorded by a number of Senators and a commitment by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida to address remaining concerns with the bill before it advances.
The bill’s proponents claim it will increase fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen, which we all agree is a worthy goal. But the reality is it offers no real change and instead includes provisions that would hurt conservation and our seafood industry. We joined Share the Gulf because we believe we can solve problems without harming our seafood heritage or the long-term health of our Gulf resources.
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.
S. 1520 stifles innovation for solving overfishing by placing a two-year moratorium on new catch share programs in the Gulf as well as the Mid- and South Atlantic , even though catch shares have completely stopped overfishing in the commercial fishing sector.
The bill also creates 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.
Seafood and fishing are core to our economy, heritage, and way of life. These harmful provisions should be removed before any further consideration of S. 1520.
We appreciate your continued support of the Share the Gulf Coalition and will keep you updated on this bill and other pending fisheries legislation in Congress.
Captain David Walker is a commercial fisherman from Andalusia, Alabama and Stephen Stryjewski is chef and owner at Cochon in New Orleans, Louisiana.