RED SNAPPER REALLOCATION SUSPENDED IN FAVOR OF RECREATIONAL MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

“Amendment 28” Deferred by Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

Key West, Florida – Citing the need for management changes in the recreational fishery and overwhelming opposition to reallocation by Gulf residents, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted Thursday to defer action on Amendment 28, a proposal that would take a portion of the red snapper fishery from Gulf seafood providers for the exclusive use of recreational fishing.

The Council’s vote means it will defer any further action on Amendment 28 until it has completed work on another proposal, “Amendment 40.” This proposal lays the groundwork for new management options for both private anglers and federally permitted recreational charter operators who provide access to recreational anglers through chartered offshore trips.

“We are glad to see the Gulf Council focusing on ideas that could help the recreational fishery,” said John Schmidt, a commercial fisherman from Madeira Beach, Florida and Share the Gulf co-chair. “Share the Gulf was built on the idea that if we manage the entire fishery well, we can share it fairly and sustainably.”

Amendment 28 in its current form (“Alternative 5”) would take nearly half a million pounds of red snapper out of the commercial seafood market next year alone and shift the majority of future increases to the recreational sector. This is in exchange for adding maybe one day to a nine-day recreational fishing season. Red snapper is a shared fishery and the total allowable catch is already split almost evenly between commercial and recreational fishermen. Unfortunately, despite that even split, anglers are stuck in a failed management system that leads to shorter and shorter seasons every year, frustrating everyone.

“Reallocation is a false promise to recreational fishermen,” said Capt. Shane Cantrell, a recreational charter captain from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “The recreational fishery needs a new management plan and the Council’s action today takes this divisive issue off the table so we can focus on real solutions to the problems recreational fishermen are facing.”

The Gulf Council has received thousands of comments over the last three months in opposition to Amendment 28. A recent review of those comments by Share the Gulf showed that Gulf residents opposed reallocation by a nearly 3-1 margin.

While Amendment 28 has been deferred for now, Share the Gulf and its members will continue to educate Gulf leaders on the downsides of reallocation and work to promote solutions to the failed federal recreational management system.

“Reallocation will hurt Gulf seafood providers and consumers while doing nothing to help the recreational fishery,” said Buddy Guindon, a commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “We need the Council to permanently stop work on Amendment 28 and fully focus its efforts on solutions not fish grabs,” said Guindon.

GULF RESIDENTS OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE BID TO CUT ACCESS TO RED SNAPPER

Key West, Florida – As the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council resumes consideration of a proposal this week to reallocate red snapper away from consumers, a new review of Council records released today shows that Gulf residents who have submitted written comments on the plan oppose it by a nearly 3-1 margin.

Known as “Amendment 28,” the plan would permanently shift the amount of red snapper caught in the Gulf away from commercial fishermen and consumers and towards the recreational sector. Red snapper is a shared fishery and the total allowable catch is already split almost evenly between commercial and recreational fishermen. Frustrating recreational fishermen and others, anglers are regrettably stuck in a failed management system that leads to shorter and shorter seasons every year

While the vast majority of recreational and commercial fishermen believe in sharing the Gulf’s resources, some suggest that the solution is simply to take fish from consumers and reserve more of it for offshore recreational fishing. Share the Gulf and the vast majority of Gulf residents disagree.

As of June 20, 2014, the Council received thousands of comments from Gulf residents on the measure. A review done by Share the Gulf of these comments shows that Gulf residents who oppose reallocation far outnumber those who support it, both as a region and in each individual Gulf state. In addition, during a series of public hearings this spring, representatives from the Council heard from an overwhelming number of recreational and commercial fishermen as well as other stakeholders who believe “Amendment 28” should be voted down by the Council.

Share the Gulf just submitted a letter to the Gulf Council signed by its state co-chairs from across the region. The Share the Gulf coalition represents more than 30,000 Gulf residents, including hundreds of chefs, restaurateurs, fishermen, seafood industry leaders, retailers, and conservationists, as well as every state restaurant association across the Gulf of Mexico and the National Restaurant Association. The letter from Share the Gulf states, “reallocation will hurt Gulf seafood businesses and will not help recreational fishermen.”

“There is increasing consumer demand for fresh, locally caught seafood,” said Chef Stephen Stryjewski, Share the Gulf’s Chef Co-Chair of New Orleans. “Gulf red snapper is a huge draw at restaurants like mine for tourists and locals alike and limiting the supply would hurt my business.”

Not only is the public opposed to reallocation, the economic justification for it just isn’t there.  Amendment 28 in its current form (“Alternative 5”) would take nearly half a million pounds of red snapper out of the commercial seafood market next year alone and shift the majority of future increases to the recreational sector. This is in exchange for adding maybe one day to a nine-day recreational fishing season. With this proposal, everybody loses. It is not surprising that NMFS scientists and the Council’s own socioeconomic advisors have repeatedly raised concerns about the validity of the economic analysis used to justify reallocation.

“Reallocating fish is not the answer to the problems recreational fishermen are facing,” said Shane Cantrell, a charter captain from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “We need a management plan that will actually increase fishing opportunities over the long term. Amendment 28 is a false promise to Gulf anglers.”

“Every American should be able to enjoy the seafood from our fisheries we’ve worked so hard to rebuild,” said John Schmidt, a commercial fisherman from Clearwater, Florida and Share the Gulf co-chair. “The Council should be focused on new management plans that will actually improve seasons for recreational fishermen, not reallocation schemes that hurt seafood providers and consumers.”

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION ASKS GULF GOVERNORS TO SUPPORT ACCESS TO LOCALLY SOURCED SEAFOOD

(Washington, D.C.) The National Restaurant Association has asked the governors in five Gulf States to support their local restaurants in a quest to maintain uncompromised, year-round access to seafood fished in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter sent today to Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Robert Bentley of Alabama, Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas, the NRA asked the Governors to “stand with us and support the commercial fishing sector that supplies restaurants in your state[s] and throughout the country.”

“In recent months, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council has proposed changing the red snapper allocation in the Gulf to reduce the share that currently goes to commercial fisherman,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association. “We strongly oppose these efforts. If successful, these proposed changes could seriously harm the commercial fishing industry and the ability of restaurants to source red snapper from the Gulf. Ultimately these changes could result in shortages and lead to significant price hikes or an inability to fulfill our customers’ desires for locally caught seafood.”

DeFife noted that the Association supports existing catch share allocations for red snapper in the Gulf. The ability to continue to source the fresh, local seafood of the area is essential to the growth of the affected states’ economies and their various foodservice businesses.

Read the full release here.

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION JOINS SHARE THE GULF

Catch Of The Day: NRA In Effort To Protect Gulf Snapper

The National Restaurant Association, in its continuing effort to support sustainability practices in the foodservice industry, joined Share the Gulf, a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood suppliers, fishermen, consumers and conservationists working to protect their access to fish in the Gulf States.

The initiative, launched in 2013, aims to ensure the region’s restaurants and grocery businesses maintain an equitable share of the Gulf States’ red snapper catch.

“Our goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come,” said Stephen Stryjewski, executive chef at New Orleans-based Link Restaurant Group and Share the Gulf co-chair. “We believe – and science shows ‑ that if Gulf fisheries are well managed, there will be a growing population with plenty of snapper, grouper and other fish to go around. We are committed to sitting down and working together to find a productive, fair and reasonable solution about how to share the Gulf.”

Scott DeFife, the NRA’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said the Association is supporting Share the Gulf so the region’s restaurants and other food businesses retain access to the fish and do not experience business downturns because that access is denied.

Read the rest from NRA’s announcement here.

GULF COUNCIL REEF FISH COMMITTEE VOTES TO SHORTEN RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER SEASON

(Baton Rouge, LA – April 9, 2014) Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico will be facing an even shorter recreational season for red snapper as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, a group of state and federal fishery managers that oversee offshore fisheries, works to comply with several standards set by the Magnuson-Stevens Act after a federal court ruled their years of management of the recreational fishery illegal.

On Tuesday the Council’s Reef Fish Committee, which makes recommendations to the full Council, voted in favor of an 11-day recreational season with a two-fish per day, per angler limit.

“Nobody wants 11 days and shortened seasons will not solve the problem the fishery is facing,” said Billy Archer, Share the Gulf member and a charter captain from Panama City, Florida. “The good news is that better solutions for recreational fishermen exist and we urge the full Council to adopt comprehensive management measures instead of the same old failed approaches.”

The full council will consider the recommendation of the reef fish committee on Thursday and will likely vote to request that the Secretary of Commerce take this emergency action to reduce the likelihood of quota overages during the 2014 season.

Some Council members are attempting to attach new must-pass accountability measures for the recreational fishery to Amendment 28, a proposal to take a portion of the commercial fishery’s quota and give it to recreational fishermen, so that the Council will be forced to pass the amendment and reallocate the red snapper fishery.

“These types of maneuvers are wrong and confuse a fish grab with real changes that can improve fishing for anglers across the Gulf of Mexico,” said Bubba Cochrane, Texas Co-Chair for Share the Gulf and commercial fisherman. “Reallocation is a false promise to recreational fishermen and a distraction from improving the management of the recreational fishery. It will take fish out of Gulf seafood industry and do nothing to help anglers in the long-term. Combining new accountability measures with Amendment 28 will only cause more chaos and more division in the Gulf.”

The Gulf Council has been presented with several alternative management programs that could improve fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen while improving accountability, but have yet to move any of them forward for serious consideration. “The Council cannot continue to ignore the demands for new management options,” said Archer.

The Council must implement an adequate management plan for the 2014 season by May 15, 2014 in order to comply with the federal court’s ruling, and has until next year to implement permanent changes to the management program for the recreational red snapper fishery.

“The Council should permanently end the reallocation distraction so that it can avoid further legal action and fulfill its obligations under the law to improve recreational management and ensure long-term sustainability of the fishery,” said Cochrane.

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Share the Gulf is a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood businesses, fishermen, conservationists, local food advocates and regular consumers that want to keep the local Gulf seafood industry fair and strong. Our simple goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come.  Join the coalition at www.sharethegulf.org.

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RED SNAPPER REALLOCATION ARE STARTING

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has scheduled a series of public hearings around the Gulf of Mexico beginning Monday, March 10, 2014.

The meetings will continue through March 24. The purpose of the meetings is to solicit public comment on Amendment 28 – Red Snapper Reallocation.

The amendment, which has been moved forward by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, would take nearly half a million pounds of popular red snapper off the consumer market in 2015 alone and give it to the recreational sector.

These public hearings are an opportunity to let the Council know that this reallocation is false promise to Gulf anglers and will only hurt Gulf fishing businesses.

You can keep track of the hearings and their locations via our Facebook page.

Public Hearing on Amendment 28 – Red Snapper Reallocation

All public hearings begin at 6:00 p.m. local time and end no later than 9:00 p.m.

March 10, 2014
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
3111 Loop Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561March 11, 2014
Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel
64 South Water Street
Mobile, AL 36602

March 12, 2014
Holiday Inn Select
2001 N. Cove Boulevard
Panama City, FL 32405

Courtyard Marriott Gulfport Beachfront
1600 E. Beach Boulevard
Gulfport, MS 39501

March 13, 2014
La Quinta Inn & Suites New Orleans Airport
2610 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, LA 70062

March 17, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn
6717 S. Padre Island Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78412March 18, 2014
Embassy Suites San Antonio International Airport
10110 U.S. Highway 281 N.
San Antonio, TX 78216March 19, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Clear Lake NASA
750 W. Texas Avenue
Webster, TX 77598

March 20, 2014
Call-in/Webinar Session
To get the call-in number, please register before the webinar begins, the call-in number will be provided to you in a confirmation e-mail.
Visit www.gulfcouncil.org to learn more

March 24, 2014
Hilton Carillon St. Petersburg
950 Lake Carillon Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33716

GULF COUNCIL TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARDS FISH GRAB

Last week, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council gave preliminary approval to a scheme that would take nearly half a million pounds of popular red snapper off the consumer market in 2015 alone and give it to the recreational sector. The proposal, known as Amendment 28, now goes to public hearings and the Council is expected to take final action at a special meeting in May.

If this amendment is allowed to pass, small businesses in the Gulf that rely on fresh Gulf seafood to provide jobs will be hit with an immediate loss of red snapper from the market, and even more dramatic losses in years to come. Consumer demand is growing and the National Restaurant Association has listed locally sourced seafood as the #1 menu trend for the past four years.

Some groups have pushed for Amendment 28 because failed recreational management has led to shorter and shorter seasons for individual anglers, but this scheme is a false promise to anyone who enjoys fishing in their spare time with family and friends.

Without new management solutions, recreational fishing seasons will continue to shrink, with or without more fish. Even the American Sportfishing Association, a group that supports the amendment, admits that reallocation, “will not result in a significant increase in allowable days to fish” for recreational fishermen.

Better solutions for recreational fishermen exist, but policymakers have refused to try them. The Council will take final action on this amendment in May, but we need your help today.  Tell your Governor and Gulf Council to oppose “Amendment 28” and instead focus on real solutions for recreational fishermen.

You can also help, by staying up-to-date by following us on Facebook or forward this email to your friends.

GULF COUNCIL MEETING THIS WEEK IN HOUSTON

This week the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is meeting in Houston.  On Thursday they will make a decision whether or not to move the red snapper reallocation amendment (Amendment 28) forward.  Many of our members submitted op-eds to papers in their area leading up to the meeting and we wanted to share those with you.  Please take a look below.

Capt. Buddy Guindon – Houston Chronicle
Commercial, recreational fishing can coexist in the Gulf

Capt. Bubba Cochrane and Glen Garey (Texas Restaurant Association) – Austin American-Statesman
Proposed rule for Gulf red snapper don’t help fishermen, consumers

Capt. David Krebs and Capt. Gary Jarvis – Destin Log
Gulf council should say “No” to red snapper shift

Chef Rob McDaniel and Capt. David Walker – Al.com
Problems with Amendment 28

Capt. Bubba Cochrane and Capt. Scott Hickman – Galveston County Daily News
It’s time for real solutions for recreational red snapper fishing

Carol Dover (CEO, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association) – Tallahassee Democrat
Gulf’s resources must belong to all of us

If you want to help Share the Gulf, please take a moment to visit our Action Center and tell Gulf leaders to say “NO” to red snapper reallocation.

TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION JOINS SHARE THE GULF-TEXAS

Austin, TX – The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is proud to join the Share the Gulf-Texas coalition, a diverse group of restaurants, seafood providers, conservationists, and fishermen working together to make sure Gulf fisheries remain fair and sustainable for future generations.  The coalition advocates for smart management of both the recreational and commercial sectors of Gulf fisheries.

Every year, Texans and visitors from across the country travel to the Texas coastline to enjoy fresh gulf-caught seafood and the thrill of the catch. Visitors and locals alike value Gulf fishing and the great Gulf seafood restaurants serving fresh, domestic seafood.   The Share the Gulf-Texas coalition believes that everyone deserves to enjoy Gulf fish – whether they catch them on their own or order them at a restaurant.

“Texas is proud to have access to some of the most delicious seafood and enjoyable fishing opportunities in the country. We want to make sure that our customers can continue to enjoy fresh Gulf fish and fishermen of all types have access to great fishing well into the future,” said Richie Jackson, CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.

The Share the Gulf-Texas coalition was started in part as a response to a proposal (called Amendment 28) being considered by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council that could permanently reduce the portion of Gulf seafood headed to consumers by reducing the allocation of red snapper to the commercial fishery.

“We feel the frustrations of recreational anglers in Texas and we think things need to change.  But, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should focus on plans that will extend seasons for anglers over the long-term, not on reallocation schemes that hurt consumers without solving the problems anglers are facing,” said Jackson.

Share the Gulf-Texas believes that everyone deserves the right to fresh Gulf fish, and if managed well there is plenty for everyone to enjoy.

“We’re proud to count TRA as a Share the Gulf-Texas member and look forward to working with them to preserve access to fresh gulf seafood for all Texans,” said Capt. Bubba Cochrane, Galveston commercial fisherman and a Share the Gulf-Texas co-chair.   “We need a plan that is fair and sustainable for everyone—consumers, fishermen of all types, and restaurants.”

Share the Gulf-Texas’ co-chairs are Bubba Cochrane a commercial fishermen from Galveston, Texas, Chef Hugo Ortega of Houston’s Backstreet Café, Hugo’s and Caracol, and Jim Gossen, Chairman of Sysco Louisiana Foods.  Its supporters include many other Texas restaurant, seafood and fishing businesses all dedicated to better management for recreational fishermen as well as maintaining a fair allocation for all Gulf fishermen.

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About the Texas Restaurant Association

The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the hospitality and foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $40 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of 39,000 plus locations and a workforce of over one million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association represents, educates and promotes the growing industry. www.restaurantville.com.

About Share the Gulf-Texas

Share the Gulf-Texas is a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood businesses, fishermen, conservationists, local food advocates and regular consumers that want to keep the local Gulf seafood industry fair and strong. Our simple goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come.  Join the coalition at www.sharethegulftexas.com.

ALABAMA RESTAURANT AND HOSPITALITY ALLIANCE JOINS SHARE THE GULF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 19, 2013

Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance Joins Share the Gulf

Coalition Seeking Fairness and Sustainability for All Gulf Fishermen

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance (ARHA) is proud to join the Share the Gulf coalition, which is working to make sure the management of our Gulf fisheries remains fair and sustainable.  The coalition believes that both the recreational and commercial industries are important to the Gulf economy and that if managed well, our fisheries can provide enough for everyone to enjoy the resource.

Every year visitors from across the country visit Alabama to enjoy its coastline.  They go fishing in the Gulf, shop in our towns, and enjoy eating fresh-caught gulf seafood at our restaurants. The Share the Gulfcoalition believes that everyone deserves to enjoy Gulf fish – whether they catch them on their own or order them at a restaurant.

“Alabama’s shores are home to some of the best offshore fishing in the country and recreational fishing is important here, but so are our restaurant and seafood industries and the family-owned fishing businesses that support them,” said Larry Fidel, ARHA President.

The Share the Gulf coalition was started in part as a response to a proposal (called Amendment 28) being considered by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council that could permanently change the allocation of red snapper to the commercial fishery and reduce the portion of the fishery available to seafood providers and the consumers they serve.

“We know that recreational anglers are suffering from bad management of the red snapper fishery and we think things need to change. We’re joining Share the Gulf because we believe that the solution to the problems facing anglers won’t come from efforts to take fish away from seafood providers, but from new and better management that provides for longer recreational fishing seasons and better data.”

“We want the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to put its focus on plans that will actually extend seasons for anglers over the long-term and improve the situation for the recreational fishery, not reallocation schemes that hurt seafood providers without solving the problems anglers are facing,” added Fidel.

Share the Gulf’s Alabama co-chairs are Chef Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse and David Walker, a commercial fisherman from Andalusia.  Its supporters include many other Alabama restaurant, seafood and fishing businesses all dedicated to better management for recreational fishermen as well as maintaining a fair allocation for all Gulf fishermen.

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About the Alabama Restaurant Association

The Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance is the state’s largest trade association representing the lodging, foodservice, and tourism industries. The Alliance offers members lobbying support on legislative issues, money-saving benefits, information-services and training aids. The Alliance is located in Montgomery, AL. and has over 1,200 members.

About Share the Gulf

Share the Gulf is a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood businesses, fishermen, conservationists, local food advocates and regular consumers that want to keep the local Gulf seafood industry fair and strong. Our simple goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come.  Join the coalition at www.sharethegulf.org.