SAFA News   |    The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association

Stop Congress From Holding Atlantic Fishermen Back

Posted By: Matthew Ruby | November 4, 2011

By:  Matt Ruby, President, South Atlantic Fishermen's Association

Many South Atlantic fishermen serve on The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Advisory Panels, actively attend fisheries meetings and work directly with Fishery Management Council members and National Marine Fisheries Service Staff.  Unfortunately, this process is in jeopardy due to a last minute Congressional attempt to take away the authority of Regional Fishery Management Councils to responsibly manage our fisheries.    

The Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill currently under consideration by members of the U.S. Senate and House threatens Regional Councils' ability to develop and implement catch shares in the South Atlantic, Mid Atlantic and New England. Of note, catch shares have been successfully implemented in the Gulf of Mexico, which would not be subject to this bill. 

Many South Atlantic snapper grouper commercial fisheries including vermilion, black sea bass and tilefish are experiencing shortened seasons, market gluts and low fish prices.  Unfortunately, new regulations such as trip limits and split seasons have not worked.  We race to fish while our operating costs are going up (more trips) with unstable returns.  How much more can South Atlantic fishermen take under traditional management?

Congress created the Regional Fishery Management Council process more than thirty years ago to ensure the input of local stakeholders. Now, driven by a small minority, Congress is trying to take away local management authority to consider catch shares.

Catch Shares may not be a good fit for every fishery, but we deserve the freedom to carefully consider catch shares for our South Atlantic fisheries.  Many South Atlantic snapper grouper fishermen are now considering catch shares because current management is putting us out of business and killing jobs.  Every month, not only are many of us trying to figure out how to make our boat payments and perform minimal maintenance to ensure our boats don't sink but also how to feed our families.

We need help, and fast.  Catch Shares may be able to help the snapper grouper and other fisheries. Fishermen and The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council deserve the option to consider catch shares without congressional interference. Take a look at this video to see fishermen who support catch shares and are working to save jobs and provide local, sustainable seafood year-round.   

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