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Gulf Council Begins to Act on Call for Reallocation
GULFPORT, MS – The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has taken a long-awaited first step toward addressing outdated allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors in the grouper and red snapper fisheries. During its meeting this week in Gulfport, the Council voted to begin an amendment on grouper allocations, and to review red snapper allocations and transferability options at its next meeting in April.
“This is something that Coastal Conservation Association has been working on for a long time, and it is a significant development for recreational anglers,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA’s National Government Relations Committee. “Frozen allocations based on ‘realities’ that no longer exist have plagued recreational anglers for decades. Crafting forward-looking allocations for these fisheries based on current and future economic, social and conservation criterion is the foundation of sensible management.”
CCA has maintained that economic data should be a key part of how allocations are determined for important mixed-use fisheries that have both commercial and recreational participation. The posterchild for the problems that exist with outdated allocations is Gulf red snapper, where about 300 commercial boats take 51 percent of the total harvest every year, while hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers are left with the remaining 49 percent.
To emphasize the point on reallocation, CCA commissioned an economic study by Gentner Consulting Group in 2009 that revealed the maximum economic value of the Gulf grouper fishery would be achieved by a significant shift of the allocation to the recreational sector. The study, conducted by Brad Gentner, who ran the recreational economics data collection program for the National Marine Fisheries Service for eight years before starting his own company, showed the fishery would yield far more jobs and economic output from a greater recreational allocation.
“CCA has always advocated that the fishery management councils look at how they want these fisheries to look in the future, instead of reflecting an outdated past based on catch histories,” said Brewer. “There is a lot of hard work still to be done, but this is a very encouraging sign that federal fisheries managers are finally willing to work on a forward-leaning management philosophy. It could be the answer to a lot of the problems anglers are seeing in the Gulf and elsewhere.”
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