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5 year review of Gulf Snapper IFQ: Program is a success

September 9, 2011

At August's Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Austin, Texas there was positive buzz surrounding the Red Snapper IFQ Program.   A five year review of the IFQ showed that not only was it meeting the goals and expectations of reducing by-catch, reversing overfishing, and strengthening the economic viability of the fishery, but in some cases, it was actually exceeding its objectives. 

With implementation of the IFQ, derby fishing has ended along with its dangerous consequences, which makes this fishery much safer, and not to mention, more efficient as fishermen can take their time and fish at their own pace.

Another added benefit of the IFQ, is the year round supply of fresh and local seafood.  With more consumers demanding local seafood, this is great for markets and restaurants that support local fishermen and helps them to maintain their business. 

With all of this positive news, it is difficult for one to imagine that only several years ago the Gulf snapper fishery was experiencing overfishing, closures, size restrictions, trip limits, and other regulations.  All of these regulations led to a ten day fishing period during each month. This ten day period became a derby where the lives of fishermen were put into danger, stocks were further depleted, market value of snapper declined, and bycatch increased. 

Many of these problems are familiar to fishermen in the South Atlantic.  Regulations have drastically shortened the commercial vermillion snapper, black sea bass and golden tilefish seasons, and the red snapper fishery has been completely shut down.   Fishermen are struggling to keep up with their bills and some are relying on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. Communities that rely on fishing are impacted as well.  With seasons being opened for shorter periods, fresh and local seafood is not available during certain parts of the year.  Local seafood markets and restaurants are forced to import fish from other states and countries, which is a turn off to consumers, especially to tourists who expect to have a unique dining experience when they are visiting.

Imagine five years from now that fisheries in the South Atlantic would be reporting the same positive news that the Gulf recently reported: "Derby fishing has ended and fishermen are safely working  at their own pace",  "Restaurants and seafood markets are supplied with local seafood as tourism is bustling" or  "Overfishing has been reversed in the South Atlantic".  With an IFQ in the South Atlantic, this could be the reality. 


To read more about the success of the 5 year review, click here.

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