Amendment 28 deferred by Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Citing the need for management changes in the recreational fishery and overwhelming opposition to the reallocation by Gulf residents, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted Thursday to defer action on Amendment 28, a proposal that would take a portion of the red snapper fishery from Gulf seafood providers for the exclusive use of recreational fishing.
The Council’s vote means it with defer any further action on Amendment 28 until it has completed work on another proposal, “Amendment 40.” This proposal lays the groundwork for new management options for both private anglers and federally permitted recreational charter operators who provide access to recreational anglers through chartered offshore trips.
“We are glad to see the Gulf Council focusing on ideas that could help the recreational fishery,” said John Schmidt, a commercial fisherman from Madeira Beach, Florida and Share the Gulf co-chair. “Share the Gulf was built on the idea that if we manage the entire fishery well, we can share it fairly and sustainably.”
Amendment 28 I its current form (Alternative 5) would take nearly half a million pounds of red snapper out of the commercial seafood market next year alone and shift the majority of future increases to the recreational sector. This is in exchange for adding maybe one day to a nine-day recreational fishing season. Red snapper is a shared fishery and the total allowable catch is already split almost evenly between the commercial and recreational fishermen. Unfortunately, despite that even split, anglers are stuck in a failed management system that leads to shorter and shorter seasons every year, frustrating everyone.
“Reallocation is a false promise to recreational fishermen,” said Capt. Shane Cantrell, a recreational charter captain from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “The recreational fishery needs a new management plan and the Council’s action Thursday takes this divisive issue off the table so we can focus on real solutions to the problems recreational fishermen are facing.”
The Gulf Council has received thousands of comments over the last three months in opposition to Amendment 28. A recent review of those comments by Share the Gulf showed that Gulf residents opposed reallocation by a nearly 3-1 margin.
While Amendment 28 has been deferred for now, Share the Gulf and its members will continue to educate Gulf leaders on the downsides of reallocation and work to promote solutions to the failed federal recreational management system.
“Reallocation will hurt Gulf seafood providers and consumers while doing nothing to help the recreational fishery,” said Buddy Guindon, a commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “We need the Council to permanently stop work on Amendment 28 and fully focus its efforts on solutions not fish grabs.”