SAFA News   |    The South Atlantic Fishermen's Association

Latest blow: Black sea bass season closes today, 87% shorter than 4 years ago

Posted By: Matthew Ruby | July 15, 2011

If you don't rely on fish to make a living, it's easy to forget the difficult situation that commercial fishermen – small business owners – are facing right now.  We're fishing as hard as possible to catch fish before the commercial quota is met.  Many times this means drastically shortened seasons, flooded markets and lower prices for our fish. 

Hopefully, with better education we can get the South Atlantic Council and Congress to allow us to try commercial catch shares.  

The black sea bass fishery closed this morning at 12:01 am because the commercial quota of 309,000 pounds was caught in just 45 days. Four years ago the season was nearly year-round.

Before the season opened on June 1, fishermen expected to get $6 per lb. for their largest black sea bass.  But less than a week afterthe season opened prices had already dropped to anywhere from $2.75 per lb. to $1.35 per lb. for many fishermen, just a fraction of what they went out thinking the price would be. 

Black sea bass is a fishery that many fishermen rely on to help them through the winter months.  Combining the black sea bass closure with other commercial closures, many fishermen are trying to figure out how to pay the bills for the rest of the year.   

Unfortunately, Congress is now looking at a proposal that would block the adoption of new catch share programs in the South Atlantic, even if fishermen want them. We don't support Congress banning the use of catch share in the South Atlantic. 

The commercial fishery cannot stand any more years like this. We need the Council to consider catch shares quickly to ensure there will be a future for the commercial fishing industry.  

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