The road to catch shares for charter and headboats

The road to “catch shares” for charter and headboat operators is being paved with an Environmental Defense Fund-backed pilot program approved by NOAA Fisheries this year for the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

Studies have shown that there is no biological benefit to catch share programs and that they hurt fishing communities by reducing jobs.

Sponsored by a Texas group called the Charter Fisherman’s Association, which is funded with $161,000.00 from EDF according to the latest EDF tax filing, the pilot program will allow a small number of headboats to be allocated “shares” in the gag grouper and red snapper fisheries for a two year period based on their reported 2011 landings. Participants are required to use Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), an expensive and intrusive vessel tracking system that has been overwhelmingly opposed in the South Atlantic.

During the public comment period for the pilot program permit, 535 emails were sent to NOAA Fisheries by individuals opposing the program, while just 28 individuals sent emails in support of the program.

However, the Environmental Defense Action Fund, the lobbying arm of EDF that has spent over $1.4 million so far this year lobbying Congress and NOAA on fishery issues, generated 7,438 form emails supporting the catch shares pilot program, many from states outside the Gulf of Mexico region.

So it’s no wonder that a NOAA administration that’s already EDF-friendly approved the program.

Just as in the Gulf of Mexico region, EDF has poured money into a group called the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association, based in South Carolina, to advocate catch shares and VMS in the South Atlantic region.

According to the latest tax filings, EDF and its lobbying fund have given SAFA a total of $205,294.00 over the last three fiscal years to do their bidding. (See EDF tax documents here, here, here and here)

EDF had the political clout with the Obama administration to get two of SAFA’s board members appointed to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council this year, where they will be in a prime position to have enormous influence on whether catch shares or VMS are imposed on South Atlantic fishermen.

To be able to prevent job killing fishery regulations like catch shares in the South Atlantic region, the Council for Sustainable Fishing needs your financial support today! Please join as a member at the highest level that you can afford today by clicking here.

We need your membership today to be able to fund an effective campaign for commercial and recreational fishing interests and against these efforts to reduce fishing jobs and impose unnecessary regulations that have little bearing on fishery sustainability.

It takes a lot of money to fund the communications, direct mail, legislative monitoring, and other expenses of an effective campaign. Please join our effort today by clicking here.

Thanks in advance for your help!


Tom Swatzel
Executive Director

P.S. Radical environmental groups are pushing hard with a well-funded effort for even more unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations like catch shares schemes, VMS and more no-fishing zones. Help us fight back by clicking here today to join our effort!

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