Anglers, product manufacturers, and other fishing related organizations are pleased with the recent action of the Gulf Council that tabled Amendment 28 to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
That act requires the NOAA Fisheries Service and regional fishery management councils to end overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, and achieve, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from federally managed fish stocks.
To fulfill that obligation the Gulf Council has moved steadily toward what is known as sector separation regardless of the strong opposition to the concept. Under that management scheme the recreational fishing sector, which now includes private angers and for-hire vessels, would be divided into two separate sectors. The result would be three sectors on which to divide or allocate the available fish between private anglers, for-hire, and commercial fishers.
The idea of sector separation is opposed on many fronts, not the least of which is the private recreational fishing community which joined others in making comments online to the Gulf Council. There is now evidence that their thoughts are being heard.
National Association of Charterboat Operators President, Capt. Bob Zales, II, reported that the Gulf Council, by a vote of 11-5, tabled Amendment 28, which included sector separation and allocations of species between sectors until the pending recreational red snapper benchmark stock assessment is presented to the Council in 2013.
“This action by the Council is welcome news as the vast majority of stakeholders oppose sector separation”, said President Zales. He further stated; “There were over 3500 email comments sent to the Council regarding sector separation and over 90% were in total opposition of sector separation. The tabling of Amendment 28 was a great signal that stakeholders were heard.”
Opposition also comes from the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation, an organization of 300 members representing 50 states and the Recreational Fishing Alliance. RFA called the efforts to divide the recreational fishing community “bad public policy” and a “divisionary scheme,”
The tabling of Amendment 28 means that the issues of sector separation and related allocations will not be discussed until after the red snapper stock assessment is presented to the Council for consideration. At that time the Council would have to vote to remove the issue from the table to discuss it.
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Angler Alert: Don’t forget to log you catch online at the Angler Action Program.