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Entries in NOAA (63)

Thursday
Oct302014

ASA, RFA Oppose 'Sector Separation' for Red Snapper Fishery

Not surprisingly, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) also are critical of Amendment 40, which created “sector separation” in the recreational segment of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. (For more about this issue, see post below this one.) 

From ASA:

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is strongly opposed to sector separation and is deeply troubled that this poorly conceived and detrimental plan was passed by the Gulf Council.

In its 2013 position paper on sector separation, ASA urged federal fishery managers to remove saltwater recreational sector separation from all management plan discussions. ASA believes that sector separation will create serious conflicts between private anglers and charter/for-hire captains, and further diminish recreational fishing opportunities for red snapper.

“While we understand the charter/for-hire position, we in the tackle industry don’t see Amendment 40 as being in the best interests of the entire recreational fishing community,” said Gary Zurn, Big Rock Sports SVP Industry Relations. “The economic impacts of sector separation have not been clearly determined, but we know it will have a significant financial impact on the coastal communities and businesses throughout the Gulf region that support recreational fishing.”

From RFA:

President Obama has made it very clear that his "policies are on the ballot" in Tuesday's election - coastal fishermen should understand by now that those policies include blanket marine reserves, privatized fish stock, recreational catch shares, and sector separation.

Despite heavy opposition from individual saltwater anglers, local tackle shops, marinas, most of the for-hire sector captains in the United States, tackle shops, the governors of the coastal states and nearly every standing member of the U.S. Congress, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) voted to divide the recreational fishing community into pieces over the next three years.

In a 10-7 vote, the appointed fisheries managers, led by NOAA Fisheries' regional administrator Dr. Roy Crabtree, approved a proposal to split the Gulf recreational red snapper fishery between charter/for hire anglers and private recreational anglers. The so-called "sector separation" measure approved by the Gulf Council will take the entire recreational quota of red snapper and split it into pieces, with the for-hire sector getting their own share of the quota and private individual anglers getting the rest.

Strangely of course, the recreational for-hire sector caters to individual anglers who book charters or climb aboard head boats to fish for red snapper, making the entire sector separation debate more about divisiveness and less about fixing the problems with federal fisheries management. The new proposal essentially privatizes more of the red snapper stock by stealing open public access away from anglers.

Thursday
Sep112014

Recreational Fishing Losses From Deepwater Horizon Estimated at $585 Million

Recreational angling took a hit of up to $585 million from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That’s the estimated value of lost fishing opportunities according to a new University of Florida study.

Researchers studied three types of anglers: those who fished from shore, those who piloted private or rental boats offshore, and those who paid for guide boats to take them fishing. They assigned an economic value for each of the three types of trips.

The researchers found that anglers fishing from shore and those that hire fishing guides lost the most, an average of $29.65 and $34.27 per trip, perhaps because they are less able to change their fishing conditions. Those who pilot their own boats lost the least at $2.23 per trip.

Researchers took data collected from interviews with saltwater anglers by NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program, which regularly surveys anglers on their catch. Each year approximately 40 million trips are taken in the U.S. Southeast.

They used about 70,000 fishing trips each year for five years, 2006 to 2010, to learn how each type of anglers changed fishing trips to avoid closures in federal fisheries following the oil spill. They arrived at the $585 million figure by multiplying the per-trip losses for each type of trip by the number of affected fishing trips, which was assumed to be for the year as if anglers could re-plan their trips to avoid closures, Larkin said.

The UF study is the first research study to estimate recreational fishing losses following such a large oil spill.

After a disaster such as an oil spill, trustees -- which could include federal, state or tribal authorities -- often attempt to secure financial compensation from those responsible.

In the Gulf oil spill, those monies would not go back to individual fishermen, but instead might fund ecosystem improvements or to stock more fish in the Gulf on the fishermen’s behalf, said UF food and resource economics professor Sherry Larkin.

In December 2012, BP agreed to pay $2.3 billion to commercial fishermen, seafood boat captains and crew, seafood vessel owners and oyster leaseholders, but trustees have yet to seek compensation on behalf of recreational fishermen.

“These are sizable losses borne by recreational users of publicly owned resources,” said Larkin, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. Because the oil spill affected thousands of square miles of fisheries, trustees could try to compensate for everyone who uses the Gulf in the future, Larkin said.

The study covers fishing areas off the coasts of Louisiana to Florida and up to North Carolina.

In Florida, following the oil spill, fishermen who normally might have gone to Pensacola, for example, would either not fish or might instead head to the Atlantic Coast, Larkin said.

UF/IFAS researchers used an economic formula that uses the cost of accessing a recreational activity, primarily travel costs, to assess the activity’s value.

At 206 million gallons, the Deepwater Horizon was the largest marine oil spill in history. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, trustees can recover public losses from responsible parties. Larkin said she does not know if the UF study will ever be used in legal cases against BP, Deepwater Horizon or other potentially responsible parties.

The study authors emphasize their model only depicts losses for recreational fishermen, not commercial fishermen, hotels, restaurants, retail establishments that lost money after the BP oil spill. It also doesn’t measure ecosystem losses.

The study appeared online in July in the Journal of Environmental Management.

Thursday
May292014

Magnuson-Stevens Needs More Flexibility

“One of the key messages the Committee has heard is that while the 2006/2007 amendments to the Act were good, those requirements have been hard to achieve in some regions without significant economic pain and that some level of flexibility is necessary.”

That’s an assessment of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act by Chariman Doc Hastings of Washington State, as the House Natural Resources Committee considers its reauthorization and improvement via H.R. 4742, also known as the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act.

Advocates for both recreational and commercial fishing have been critical of the legislation intended to better conserve and management saltwater fisheries. They acknowledge its good intent, but argue that it has unnecessarily limited participation and harvest

“This debate today isn’t just about the use of a natural resource – it is about providing a sustainable source of protein as well as providing economic vitality to coastal communities,” he continued.

“In some regions of the country, fishing communities are struggling. A report from NOAA stated that groundfish revenues 'fell in 2012 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island with Massachusetts and New Hampshire seeing a four-year low in groundfish revenues.'

“In New Bedford alone, the value of groundfish landed dropped from $31 million in 2011 to $19 million in 2013. The report went on to state that the number of active vessels dropped from 916 vessels in 2009 to 764 vessels in 2012 and of the 764 active vessels only 401 took a groundfish trip in 2012.

“And in the Gulf of Mexico, the recreational harvest of red snapper in Federal waters is down to just 9 days despite encouraging reports on the health of the resource.”

Go here to learn more.

Tuesday
Oct292013

Help Stop Longliners from Damaging Bluefin Tuna Fishery

 

Your help is needed to help end the waste of bluefin tuna in U.S. waters and ensure that longliners --- not recreational anglers --- are the ones held responsible for the incidental bycatch.

“Recreational anglers are leaders when it comes to conserving fish and their habitat,” said Jason Schratwieser, conservation director for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). “And we’re hoping having recreational anglers sign on this petition will help NOAA Fisheries realize better protection is needed for this species.”

Go here to sign an IGFA-sponsored online petition to urge NOAA Fisheries to strengthen its current proposed rule for bluefin tuna by reducing longline bycatch and protecting bluefin spawning rounds.

Surface longlines kill thousands of game fish, including blue and white marlin, sailfish, sharks and bluefin tuna. In 2012, longliners threw back dead nearly 25 percent of the U.S. bluefin quota. The IGFA is calling on NOAA Fisheries to help reverse this trend by implementing strong measures that will protect spawning bluefin in the Gulf of Mexico and hold surface longliners accountable for bluefin bycatch, both of which mean increased fishing opportunities for recreational anglers.

“Thanks to email and social media it is easier than ever for an angler to spread the word and support this measure,” Schratwieser continued. “It only takes 30 seconds to sign the petition and share it on Facebook or email. Showing fisheries managers that sportsmen are engaged and concerned about our resources is critical to enacting change.”

You can read the proposed full rule here.

Monday
Oct282013

Louisiana's Vitter Calls Out NOAA for Failure in Managing Fisheries

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is pushing back against NOAA’s failure to implement its own allocation policies and to provide leadership and direction to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He says that he will “hold” the nominee to lead that agency until it agrees to address its responsibilities.

Even though the recreational fishery for red snapper is worth far more to the economy than the commercial, sports anglers are allocated just 49 percent of the catch, based on data from the 1980s. Back then, bycatch of juvenile red snapper by shrimp trawlers caused the recreational catch to decline by 87 percent.

“It shouldn’t have to come to this,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association.  “After all, NOAA is an agency charged with managing our public marine resources in a manner to achieve the greatest benefits to the nation and there is no way to manage any fishery to achieve that goal when the managing agency insists on adhering to an allocation that was set using catch history from the 1980s.  

“We really appreciate Senator Vitter stepping in to make NOAA Fisheries do its job.”

“Given all the turbulence surrounding Gulf red snapper over the past several years, it is past time to look at the fundamental underpinnings of how we manage this fishery,” added Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.  “Ignoring the problem is irresponsible.”

The Secretary of Commerce is legally obligated, along with the Fishery Management Councils, to establish procedures to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of fish harvest for Gulf red snapper – and every other federally managed fishery.  The Obama Administration three years ago committed to review guidelines for implementing fair and equitable allocations.  While some preliminary work has been done to develop options for moving forward with allocation reviews, so far, neither NOAA nor any Council has produced such guidelines. 

“Federal managers simply must address allocation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation.  “Our system of federal fisheries management is broken to a point where a United States Senator is compelled to force a federal agency to do a fundamental part of its job.  We support Sen. Vitter’s continued efforts to make government act responsibly.”

Read more here.