Help stop "catch shares" and more in the South Atlantic

Your action is needed today to stop the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council from approving “catch share” programs, expensive vessel electronic monitoring, and more closed fishing areas for use in the snapper-grouper fishery!

The SAFMC has opened the comment period for its snapper-grouper Vision Project, a strategic plan for how the fishery will be managed in the future that will have serious consequences for all snapper-grouper fishermen, dealers, wholesalers, and consumers.

Last year, the SAFMC promised that the Vision Project would be “stakeholder-driven” (click here, third paragraph) and conducted 26 “port meetings” that were supposed to seek stakeholder input into the project. These meetings produced overwhelming input from stakeholders, like you, that catch shares, vessel monitoring systems, and more closed areas like MPAs, are vehemently opposed, and should not be in the plan.

Breaking its promise of a stakeholder-driven plan, the SAFMC has now included those overwhelmingly opposed measures in its Vision Project plan!

Click here for the Vision management plan to see for yourself.

Having a “vision” or long-term strategic plan for the management of the snapper-grouper fishery is a good idea, but the plan must be driven by stakeholders and not the fishery council and special interest groups.

Catch share programs, electronic monitoring, and MPAs are not required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act; their use by fishery councils is entirely optional and has little to do with fishery sustainability.

The SAFMC Vision plan includes catch share programs for both commercial and for-hire fishermen.

Study after study have shown that catch share programs, which take a fishermen’s landings and converts them into “shares” of a fishery that can be bought and sold like a commodity on Wall Street, provide no biological benefit to fisheries and hurt fishing communities by destroying jobs.

Just as troubling, the phrase “catch shares” is nowhere to be found in the Vision plan. Instead, the SAFMC has decided to be less than direct with stakeholders by using code-speak for catch shares in the plan such as “sector share management system,” “community-based quota management,” “individual quota management system,” “individual quota programs,” “sector share programs/cooperatives,” “individual quotas,” and “allocations by permit.”

We just can’t let this happen!

In 2013, the SAFMC had to withdraw its proposal for expensive and burdensome vessel monitoring systems in the commercial snapper-grouper fishery after overwhelming opposition from fishermen: over 700 written comments against, with just 10 in favor, the most comments on any SAFMC proposal in recent history.

Yet, now the SAFMC has included “electronic monitoring methods for all sectors” in its Vision plan.

Not only did the SAFMC put additional Marine Protected Areas and Special Management Zones in its Vision plan, they are considering “additional restrictions” on existing closed areas.

This with hundreds of square miles currently under consideration for snapper-grouper spawning SMZs, nearly 700 square miles of existing deep-water MPAs in which bottom fishing is prohibited, and nearly 24,000 square miles of existing deep-water coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern in which bottom fishing is substantially restricted by prohibitions on anchoring and bottom longlines.

And there is no plan in place to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of these existing closed areas, much less any new areas.

I urge you to take these actions to stop catch shares, vessel electronic monitoring, and more MPAs in our fishery before it’s too late:

  1. Tell the SAFMC today why you oppose their Vision plan by emailing comments to: amber.vonharten@safmc.net. Ask other fishermen, dealers, wholesalers and consumers to send in comments.
  2. Attend the public hearing/listening station in your area and speak out against the Vision plan. Bring other stakeholders with you. Click here for a list of the locations.
  3. Personally contact the SAFMC members from your state that represent you and tell them why you oppose the Vision plan. Click here for the contact information.

Too many times fishermen and other stakeholders have been guilty of not taking the time to speak out on proposed fishery regulations, and then complaining after the fact.

Not this time!

With your help, we can win the fight against this plan. Thank you in advance for your help on this important issue!

Wayne Mershon
President
Sustainablefishing.org

P.S. The Council for Sustainable Fishing is a non-profit advocacy group that relies on membership dues and donations to operate. Please consider sending a donation to help us continue to get the word out to fishermen and others. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 2398, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576 or credit card donations can be made online at by clicking here. Thank You!

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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