SC House resolution opposes catch shares, aimed at SAFMC on pilot catch shares effort

On Tuesday, February 28th a resolution was introduced in the SC House of Representatives to oppose catch shares and efforts to conduct pilot catch share programs.

Our thanks to Reps. Lee Hewitt, Jay Jordan, Alan Clemmons, Richie Yow, Roger Kirby and Phillip Lowe for standing up for fishermen and fishing communities against efforts to privatize our fishery resources with catch shares.

A HOUSE RESOLUTION

TO OPPOSE THE PRIVATIZATION OF SOUTH ATLANTIC FEDERAL FISHERY RESOURCES THROUGH CATCH SHARE MANAGEMENT AND EFFORTS THROUGH EXEMPTED FISHING PERMITS OR OTHER MEANS TO CONDUCT PILOT CATCH SHARE PROGRAMS OR STUDIES.

Whereas, "catch share" is a term for fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals or other entities, effectively giving private ownership of federal fishery resources to individuals and corporations; and

Whereas, in 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries adopted a national catch share policy, which states that "NOAA encourages the consideration and adoption of catch shares wherever appropriate in fishery management and ecosystem plans and their amendments, and will support the design, implementation, and monitoring of catch share programs"; and

Whereas, private ownership of federal fishery resources through catch share programs nationally has caused significant consolidation of fishing fleets, reducing access to the resource and causing significant fishing job losses to the detriment of fishing communities and the coastal economy; and

Whereas, a 2013 report by the Center for Investigative Reporting provides estimates that as many as eighteen thousand fishing jobs were lost and three thousand seven hundred vessels were no longer fishing in areas that had catch share programs, with those numbers being likely much higher now; and

Whereas, this year, a WVUE-TV, New Orleans, investigative report into the Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper fishery catch share program stated that just "fifty businesses and fishermen control eighty-one percent of the commercial red snapper allocation," causing many fishermen to lose access to the fishery or forcing them to pay exorbitant prices to buy or rent red snapper shares so they can remain employed in the fishery; and

Whereas, a 2013 NOAA study of the impacts of catch shares on southern New England fishermen and families found that seventy percent said they were "worse/much worse off" with catch shares; and

Whereas, fishery stakeholders in South Carolina and the South Atlantic are overwhelmingly opposed to catch share programs in federal waters as evidenced by ninety-seven percent of the comments on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's long-range snapper-grouper fishery management plan being opposed to any form of catch shares; and

Whereas, 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; and

Whereas, saltwater fishing is economically very important to South Carolina, with recreational and commercial fishing in 2014 generating $545.4 million and $74.3 million in sales and supporting six thousand two hundred and one thousand four hundred jobs respectively, according to NOAA. Now therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That members of the House of Representatives, by this resolution, oppose the use of catch share fisheries management in federal waters off South Carolina and in the South Atlantic, and any efforts through exempted fishing permits or other means to conduct pilot catch share programs or studies.

Be it further resolved that a copy of the resolution be forwarded to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

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Click here for the bill.

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Council for Sustainable Fishing