Congress pulls cost-saving management choices for struggling fishermen in favor of special-interest backed policies proven to bankrupt fishermen, devastate fisheries
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Commercial fishing groups are dismayed about federal budget negotiations that have resulted in what fishermen are calling the "Anti-Fishermen Act." This act, formerly known as the Jones Amendment, prohibits approval of new catch share programs for U.S. fisheries under the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, New England, or Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, the Gulf Fishermen’s Association and the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association say that the Anti-Fisherman Act minimizes opportunities for fishermen and empowers Congress to make decisions better made regionally. The groups are working to ensure this language doesn't extend to the FY2012 budget.
Other fishing groups have opposed this measure too.
Catch shares are a fishery management system that has been shown to make fishing more efficient, profitable and sustainable. By taking catch shares off the table, Congress is forcing fishermen to accept traditional fishery management that has historically benefited few and left many fisheries depleted, which hurts fishing businesses and local communities.
"Federal money will still be spent on existing catch share programs,” said TJ Tate, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance Executive Director, “The Anti-Fisherman Act will not save taxpayers any money, it just prevents money from being spent on new catch share programs. It could end up costing money in the long term because it will continue failed fishery management approaches.”
“The place to decide on catch shares is in the regional fishery management councils with local fisherman input,” said Tate. “The Gulf of Mexico red snapper catch share was approved by 87 percent of fishermen and the value of the fishery has risen by 86 percent in five years.”
"We're fighting to make sure the Anti-Fisherman Act goes away this year," said Glen Brooks, Gulf Fishermen's Association President. "If old rules stay in place, fisheries will continue to be closed and more foreign seafood will be imported."
"Congress is taking a proven management option off the table in favor of keeping fishermen tied to the dock," said Matt Ruby, South Atlantic Fishermen's Association President. "We need to be able to consider solutions that are proven for other fisheries in our own fishery."
There is significant evidence in the U.S. that catch shares work.
- The Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper catch share implemented in 2007 has increased fishing time from 52 days to year-round and the value of the fishery has risen 86 percent.
- The Alaskan commercial halibut and sablefish catch share implemented in 1995 has increased fishing time from 2 days to 245 days and the price earned for fish has risen 12 percent.
- The New England groundfish sectors catch share program implemented in 2010 has increased overall revenue for fishermen by 10 percent in the first eight months, compared to the same period in 2009.
The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholder's Alliance is a 501c(6) trade association representing IFQ fishermen and associated dealers who provide consumers year-round access to high-quality, responsibly-caught seafood year-round. www.shareholdersalliance.org
The Gulf Fishermen's Association is a Florida-based, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the fishing future for all fishermen. www.gulffishermen.org
The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association is made up of fishermen and seafood lovers from North Carolina to the Florida Keys who advocate for strong Southeast fishing communities that provide sustainably-caught local seafood year-round and pass the heritage on to future generations. www.southerncatch.com
CONTACT: Mark Thien, +1-615-400-4911, [email protected]
SOURCE Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance