CATCH SHARE THREAT ALERT

Use the comment link below today to let the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council know you oppose the pilot snapper-grouper catch share program permit and any form of catch shares:

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE SAFMC COMMENT FORM

These on the record comments are crucial to stopping this catch share scheme. Please make comments no later than March 8th.

Click here to see the comments that have been submitted.

Please also consider speaking out at the SAFMC public hearing on Wednesday, March 8th at 4:30 pm located at the Westin Hotel, 110 Ocean Way in Jekyll Island, GA.

Additionally, contact your representatives on the SAFMC to personally let them know you oppose the pilot catch share program permit. Click here for the SAFMC member contact information.

Click here to see the pilot catch share program permit application. Note that the phrase “catch shares” does not appear in the application purpose – instead code-speak for catch shares like “allocation-based system” and “individual transferable quota” is used.

Below is the letter Council for Sustainable Fishing President Wayne Mershon sent to snapper-grouper fishermen:

Your action is needed today to stop a back-door effort to get a job-killing snapper-grouper catch share program in the South Atlantic!

This is about saving your fishing permit and right to fish.

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Vice Chair Charlie Phillips, SAFMC member Chris Conklin and former SAFMC member Jack Cox, all commercial snapper-grouper fleet owners and dealers, are ringleaders in an effort to get a “pilot” catch share program using an “Exempted Fishing Permit,” which is a back-door way to avoid the normal fishery regulation approval process.

EFPs are usually for research purposes and are approved by just one person -- NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator Dr. Roy Crabtree, who is seeking the advice of the SAFMC at their March meeting in Jekyll Island, GA as to whether the EFP application should move forward or not.

Unless the SAFMC takes a strong stand against the EFP, I believe there is a very good chance Dr. Crabtree will ultimately approve the pilot catch share program. Once in place, count on efforts to impose catch shares on all fishermen.

This EFP would give these insiders exclusive snapper-grouper shares and even exempt them from any trip limits and seasonal or quota closures. In a recent article in the Charleston, SC Post & Courier, Vice Chair Phillips touts that the permit would allow them to catch all year."

It’s incredible that sitting SAFMC members would be asking to have their snapper-grouper fleets exempted from the rules, raising very serious questions of potential conflicts of interests.

And this after 97 percent of the fishery stakeholder comments on the SAFMC’s long-range snapper-grouper Vision management plan opposed catch shares -- a plan the council promised would be stakeholder-driven.”

So much for honoring promises!

Click here for my op-ed that was published in the Post & Courier about this catch share effort.

This back-door “pilot” catch share scheme is exactly what the radical Environmental Defense Fund has used as a tactic in the Gulf of Mexico, where, according to a recent WVUE-TV investigative report “50 businesses and fishermen control 81 percent” of the commercial red snapper catch shares, worth $23 million a year, making these ‘snapper barons’ millionaires.

The report states one ‘snapper baron’ makes over $600,000 a year without dropping a line in the water by charging fishermen for the right to fish.

Guess who’s pushing this back-door effort along with these SAFMC ringleaders?

According to the Post & Courier, it’s EDF front group Seafood Harvesters of America, which according to tax documents has been funded with over $300,000 from EDF.

The Seafood Harvesters represent some of the biggest catch share owners in the nation. Board members include Jack Cox and Buddy Guindon (Big Fish Texas), who according to media reports is the third largest owner of Gulf red snapper shares, worth $1.4 million annually.

This isn’t about research -- it’s about picking the economic winners and losers in the snapper-grouper fishery by reducing the number of fishermen -- that’s what catch shares do.

And if you have a for-hire snapper-grouper permit, this could ultimately affect that permit, too. The SAFMC also has on its meeting agenda for-hire limited entry, which is a beginning step toward for-hire catch shares. In other areas of the country, after commercial catch shares were imposed, for-hire catch shares shortly followed.

Catch share disasters are all around the country.

In California, Jeremiah O’Brien, director of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization told the San Luis Obispo Tribune: “The catch share system is probably the worst thing that ever happened to the fishing industry.”

A 2013 NOAA study of the impacts of catch shares on southern New England fishermen and families found that 70 percent said they were worse/much worse off with catch shares.

And this is not about fishery sustainability. Studies by the Lenfest Ocean Program and reports by Food and Water Watch and others have shown that catch share programs provide no biological benefit or enhanced sustainability to fisheries at all.

Time is very short -- speak out today to save jobs and fishing communities! Here’s how:

    1. Click here for SAFMC online comment form and tell them you’re opposed to the pilot catch share program permit and any form of catch shares. These “on the record” comments are crucial. Please make comments no later than March 8th.
    2. Speak out against the permit at the SAFMC public hearing on Wednesday, March 8th at 4:30 pm at the Westin Hotel, 110 Ocean Way, Jekyll Island, GA.
    3. Contact your representatives on the SAFMC to personally let them know you oppose the permit. Click here for contact information for all SAFMC members.

The only way to stop this catch share effort is for fishermen, like you, to step up and be heard by the SAFMC. I urge you to let the SAFMC know today that you oppose this back-door catch share effort before it’s too late.

Thank you in advance for your efforts!

Wayne Mershon

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