SAFA News   |    The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association

Fishermen Appalled At Congress-Knows-Best Approach To Fisheries Management

Posted By: Matthew Ruby | May 3, 2012

Charleston, SC. – May 3, 2012.  The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association (SAFA), in a letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee, yesterday expressed its strong opposition to an attempt by some members of Congress to ban catch shares.  

SAFA noted in the letter that fisheries management decisions are best made by those with in-depth knowledge and experience with the fisheries in their regions, noting that that was the principal reason Congress established the regional fishery management council system to allow participatory governance by knowledgeable people with a stake in fisheries.  Those councils are comprised of state government officials and people with fisheries experience in the respective regions who are nominated by their State governors.  It also noted that a Congressional ban on catch shares would unilaterally take that decision-making out of the hands of those stakeholders and experts.

 "SAFA has been focused on working with fishermen and other stakeholders in the South Atlantic fisheries to improve the conservation and management of our commercial fisheries.  We believe that catch shares can be a valuable tool in the toolbox to help in that regard," said Matt Ruby, a commercial fisherman and President of SAFA.  

"And now some members of Congress want to come along and tell us what's best for our fishermen and small businessmen.  Congress does not know best what we need for our fisheries in the South Atlantic," Ruby added.  "Those are decisions best left to the regional councils, who understand the issues confronting our industry.  Inserting big government into this decision-making process does a disservice to communities that depend on the health of our fisheries for their livelihood."  

SAFA became aware of the recent effort to ban catch shares when it received a copy of a letter to the House Appropriations Committee authored by Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida, and signed by other Congressmen from the South Atlantic region, asking for an appropriations rider to prohibit funding for such programs.  

The SAFA letter expressed significant opposition to a legislative catch share ban, and urged members of Congress to oppose any efforts to impose such a ban.    

"We hope that if such an amendment does come up on the House floor that our Representatives will decide to vote for small businesses and fishermen by opposing it.  The last thing we need is for Congress to tell us what's best for fishermen and fisheries in the South Atlantic." 

Click here to see a copy of the letter. 

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