SAFMC halts MPA effort, includes catch shares in top ten list

Acknowledging widespread opposition from fishermen and coastal businesses to its proposal for up to 1,000 sq. miles of additional deep-water Marine Protected Areas off the Carolinas, Georgia, and east Florida, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at its meeting last week halted the proposal, choosing instead to seek public input on using smaller Special Management Zones to protect some deep-water snapper-grouper spawning areas.

The SAFMC has been pushed hard for over two years by radical environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, and Pew to approve the proposed MPAs even though the SAFMC’s own scientific advisors have said there is no scientific justification.

The Council for Sustainable Fishing took a lead in pointing out the lack of scientific justification for the proposed MPAs and absence of any systematic evaluations of the existing deep-water MPAs.

The SAFMC will be conducting public scoping meetings on the SMZ concept for deep-water spawning areas, now called Snapper-Grouper Amendment 36, August 6-14 and will also be taking written comments. Click here for the scoping meeting schedule. Written comments can be emailed to mike.collins@safmc.net.

While protecting significant deep-water snapper-grouper spawning areas during spawning seasons has merit, the SAFMC must first ensure that there is an evaluation plan in place for the eight existing deep-water MPAs in the South Atlantic, totaling about 530 sq. miles, which were approved in 2009 to protect deep-water snapper-grouper species, particularly speckled hind and warsaw grouper.

In the five years these MPAs have existed, no systematic monitoring has occurred to evaluate their effectiveness. In fact the SAFMC voted in 2006 to remove an evaluation plan from that MPA plan because the council did not want to be held accountable for its execution or funding.

These existing MPAs may be doing an adequate job of protecting spawning areas and enhancing snapper-grouper populations, but until there is some systematic monitoring, there can be no way to quantify the results.

It is of great concern that at last week’s SAFMC meeting, when council members submitted their top three issues/solutions as part of the snapper-grouper fishery “visioning” process, catch shares made it into the top ten issues for consideration. Click here for the visioning workshop report.

It is very important for fishing interests to be vigilant about catch shares programs, voluntary or not, moving forward for fishery council consideration. Studies have shown that there is no biological benefit to catch share programs and that they hurt fishing communities by destroying jobs.

Click here for a report by Food and Water Watch about the “economic devastation” catch share programs have caused.

To be able to continue to fund an effective campaign for fishing interests and against unnecessary and unjustifiable MPAs or programs like catch shares that have no bearing on fishery sustainability, we need your financial support today!

Please join the CFSF as a member at the highest level that you can afford today by clicking here.

If you are already a member, please consider a higher membership level or a direct contribution.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Tom Swatzel
Executive Director

Contributions or gifts to the Council for Sustainable Fishing are not tax deductible as charitable contributions. However, they may be tax deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.

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Help get the best qualified fisheries managers

Good news from last week: Governors Nikki Haley and Rick Scott nominated charter boat operators Mark Brown from Charleston and Robert Johnson from St. Augustine respectively for appointment to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to fill seats for recreational/for-hire representation.

The nomination letters submitted to NOAA Fisheries can be viewed here and here.

The Council for Sustainable Fishing took the lead in urging the nomination of Mark and Robert, who are very experienced fishermen and know first-hand the economic impacts of fishery regulations on fishermen and the coastal economy. They are both very experienced in the federal fisheries management process, having served for years on SAFMC advisory and stock assessment panels.

There is no doubt that Mark and Robert are the best qualified to serve on the SAFMC. But now the appointment decision is in the hands of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce through NOAA Fisheries.

It’s important that fishermen and related businesses send emails as soon as possible to NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck urging the appointment of Mark Brown and Robert Johnson. Her email address is eileen.sobeck@noaa.gov 

NOAA Fisheries will announce the appointments in June and the new appointees will take office in August.

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Food & Water Watch report shreds EDF argument for catch shares

Fish__Inc_cover.jpgThe Environmental Defense Fund has spent a lot of money pushing “catch shares” in the South Atlantic region on the false premise that catch shares are good for fishermen and the resource. A catch share-based fishery management plan takes a fishermen’s landings and converts them to “shares” that can be bought and sold like a commodity on Wall Street.

An extensive report from the Food & Water Watch shreds the EDF argument for catch shares by documenting that:

Catch shares cause economic devastation.
Catch shares fail to sustain the health of our fisheries.
Catch shares fail to achieve legal standards for fishery management.
Catch shares aren’t fair.

Click here for the report

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We're working to change who manages our fisheries

We’ve been working hard to get the best qualified candidates nominated for the upcoming appointments to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

The 13 voting members of the SAFMC drive federal fishery management policy off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and east Florida. They will decide whether fishermen have the following:

  • Over 1,000 sq. miles of additional, scientifically unjustifiable no-fishing zones or Marine Protected Areas.
  • Job killing “catch shares” schemes.
  • Unnecessary, expensive and intrusive Vessel Monitoring Systems.
  • A red snapper fishery closure that extends beyond the current four years.

The two seats up for appointment in June are open due to David Cupka (SC) being term limited and John Jolley (FL) not seeking reappointment. These seats are supposed to be designated for recreational/for-hire representation.

Last week, we asked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Rick Scott to select experienced charter boat operators Mark Brown and Robert Johnson respectively as their preferred nominees to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for appointment to the SAFMC. Both Mark and Robert are very knowledgeable about the federal fisheries management process and understand the impacts of regulations on those that make a living from fishing.

Click here and here for the letters we sent to Governors Haley and Scott respectively.

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CFSF urges Gov. Scott to select Robert Johnson as his preferred nominee for open SAFMC seat

Below is the text of a letter sent to Florida Gov. Rick Scott on February 28th, urging him to nominate St. Augustine charter boat operator Robert Johnson as his preferred nominee for appointment to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to fill an open seat currently held by John Jolley, who is not seeking reappointment.

Earlier this week, the CFSF sent a letter urging South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to nominate Mark Brown as her preferred nominee for the seat being vacated by David Cupka, who is term limited.

These are the only two SAFMC seats that are up for appointment this year.

Both seats are supposed to be filled by recreational/for-hire fishing representatives.

Governors must submit nominations to NOAA Fisheries by March 15th for consideration by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Appointments are announced in June.

Dear Governor Scott,

The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a nonprofit advocacy group for commercial and recreational fishermen, seafood dealers and wholesalers, restaurateurs, and chefs in the South Atlantic region, including Florida. Our mission is to optimize and sustain fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen to aid the coastal economy of the region and ensure stable seafood availability to consumers.

We write to urge you to nominate St. Augustine charter boat operator and recreational fisherman Robert Johnson for appointment to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council as your preferred nominee. Without doubt, Robert is the most qualified and has by far the most experience as to participation in South Atlantic fisheries and the regional fishery management council process.

Robert has over 30 years of experience as a working Florida charter boat captain. He is a respected leader in recreational and for-hire fishing, who has worked tirelessly to affect fishery management policy for the good of fishermen and the resource.

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CFSF urges Gov. Haley to select Mark Brown as her preferred nominee for open SAFMC seat

Below is the text of a letter sent to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on February 24th, urging her to nominate long-time Mt. Pleasant charter boat operator Mark Brown as her preferred nominee for appointment to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to fill an open seat currently held by David Cupka, who is term limited.

Gov. Haley must submit her nominations to NOAA Fisheries by March 15th for consideration by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Appointments are announced in June.

Dear Governor Haley,

The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a South Carolina-based nonprofit advocacy group for commercial and recreational fishermen, seafood dealers and wholesalers, restaurateurs, and chefs in the South Atlantic region. Our mission is to optimize and sustain fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen to aid the coastal economy of the region and ensure stable seafood availability to consumers.

We write to urge you to nominate Mark Brown for appointment to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council as your preferred nominee. Without doubt, Mark is the most qualified and has by far the most experience as to participation in South Atlantic fisheries and the federal fishery management council process.

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Seafood operations director of Atlanta-based Halperns' elected to Council for Sustainable Fishing board

MURRELLS INLET, SC – Cheryl Fuller, Director of Seafood Operations for Atlanta-based seafood and steak distributor Halperns’, this month was elected to the board of directors of the Council for Sustainable Fishing, a nonprofit fishing advocacy group focused on optimizing and sustaining fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen in the South Atlantic region.

“We’re very pleased to have Cheryl on the board. She is a top seafood buyer and understands the need to improve annual catch limits for fishermen to the extent possible. The experience she brings to the board will be very helpful as we work to improve domestic seafood availability to consumers,” Council for Sustainable Fishing Executive Director Tom Swatzel said.

"Having been born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, the South Atlantic fishery is of very special interest to me. Today we have to be the caretakers, watching out for the many men and women that fish there, while also protecting the environment for our future generations. Collectively we can make a difference," Cheryl Fuller said.

Click here for a Seafood International story about Cheryl.

Founded last year, the CFSF has a unique multistate membership combination of commercial and recreational fishermen, seafood dealers and wholesalers, restaurateurs, and chefs in the South Atlantic region that have a stated mission of “optimizing and sustaining fishing opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen to aid the coastal economy of the region and ensure stable seafood availability to consumers.”

The CFSF has been active in pursuing Magnuson-Stevens Act reforms and in opposing unnecessary fishery regulations under consideration by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

The CFSF has expressed support for MSA reauthorization legislation that would give regional fishery management councils more flexibility in ending overfishing and rebuilding fisheries, allow consideration of ecosystem changes and the economic needs of fishing communities in establishing annual catch limits, and require referendum approval of any proposed “catch share” programs in the South Atlantic region by a majority of the affected fishery permit holders.

Most recently, the CFSF has fought against a SAFMC proposal to establish over 1,000 sq. miles of additional no-fishing zones or Marine Protected Areas off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and east Florida, that even the fishery council’s own scientific advisors have said were not justifiable, asking Congress to include a moratorium on Marine Protected Areas in the region in MSA reauthorization legislation.

In addition to Fuller, the CFSF board members are Wayne Mershon, owner of Kenyon Seafood, Murrells Inlet, SC; Langdon Gunter, recreational fishermen, Myrtle Beach, SC; Ann Shipman, Business Development Manager and Center of the Plate Protein Specialist, Greer, SC; James Clark, Executive Chef at The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC; and Tony Hancock and Sean Heverin, both commercial fishermen from Jacksonville, FL.

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Tell the SAFMC how you want the snapper-grouper fishery managed!

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is developing a long-term “vision” for managing the snapper grouper fishery. Next week, beginning in South Carolina, the fishery council will begin a series of “port meetings” to seek input from commercial and recreational snapper-grouper fishermen, dealers, chefs and others who have a stake in the fishery as to how the fishery should be managed long-term.

Click here for detailed information about the SAFMC Visioning Project.

The first port meetings will be in Murrells Inlet next Tuesday, February 11th at 2 pm and 6 pm at Capt. Dave’s Dockside Restaurant and on Wednesday, February 12th at 10:30 am at The Ordinary Restaurant in Charleston.

More meetings will be held in South Carolina in late February. Then meeting will be held in North Carolina and Florida in March and in Georgia in April. Click here for the full meeting schedule.

These are important meetings and you’re urged to attend. The outcome will affect how your snapper-grouper fishery is managed for years to come.

If you’re unable to attend, comments can be emailed to safmcvision@safmc.net

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Important meetings in Florida and Georgia this week!

This week, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will conduct public input meetings in Florida and Georgia on proposed fishery management plan amendments that will affect the black sea bass trap fishery, gray triggerfish, Spanish and king mackerel, and how Annual Catch Limits are calculated on some unassessed snapper-grouper species.

The meeting today will be in Key West, FL.

These are important fishery issues and we urge you to participate in these meetings and/or submit written comments. Click here for the public meeting schedule, how to submit written comments and the amendment documents.

Last Tuesday, CFSF President Wayne Mershon and I attended the SAFMC input meeting in North Myrtle Beach, SC where Wayne spoke about our support for increasing Annual Catch Limits on snapper-grouper species and Spanish mackerel and the need to let commercial black sea bass trap fishermen go back to fishing in the traditional winter months.

Click here for Wayne’s letter to the SAFMC.

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Important upcoming meetings!

Beginning Tuesday, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold a series of public meetings over the next two weeks to seek input on proposed fishery management plan amendments that will affect the black sea bass trap fishery, gray triggerfish, Spanish and king mackerel, and how Annual Catch Limits are calculated on some unassessed snapper-grouper species.

These are important fishery issues and we urge you to participate in these meetings and/or to submit written comments.

Click here for the public meeting schedule, how to submit written comments and the amendment documents.

Click here for CFSF President Wayne Mershon’s letter to the SAFMC stating our position on these amendments. Wayne will be attending the meeting in North Myrtle Beach, SC on Tuesday to also deliver our position in person.

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