Sector Schmecter Squeckter

That may be a more accurate term for all the talk going on about creating a new hybrid category of recreational fishing.

But “sector separation” is the term proponents are promoting.

These influential but inexperienced newcomers to fisheries management want to carve out the new category representing “for hire” charter fishing. The idea is that the charter fishing catches would be handled separately but still recreational—or sort of.

Next could be different seasons and limits for charter trips.

The notion raises a mountain of questions that show such a separation to be plain silly.

It’s almost as silly as the “catch shares” talk pushed by the new NOAA fisheries leaders who, by the way, are as inexperienced as the sector-separation team. It’s no coincidence that the advocates come from the anti-fishing world of the Environmental Defense Fund.

All the talk and workshops, usually staged during expensive stays at plush hotels and bars, would fit nicely into a bag we should label “meaningless babble.”

That’s the label I’ll borrow from Alex Jernigan, one of the best-ever fisheries experts who knows our not-pretty federal system better than most anyone.

The sector separation ploy has no end of wrinkles in it and definitions vary. But basically recreational anglers fishing under recreational laws would be cast into a for-hire category different from their other fishing trips. Next, it is already hinted that the fish could be sold under captains’ commercial licenses.

Would the for-hire category apply to skiff guides? Or to go-along guides who come on your boat? Could you be shut down at the dock while for-hires merrily go to sea?

Much of the motivation for the sector and catch-shares babble (good one, Alex) spring up from general agreement that existing fishing data is inadequate, wrong, or both.

This brings out brainstorming from well-meaning folks who don’t understand that their brilliant ideas about counting fish populations have been around and found unworkable for more than a century.

Rather than devising new and cost-prohibitive systems, all we need to do is utilize proven methods such as carefully done catch-per-unit-of-effort studies, good samplings, and common sense, the latter being too often uncommon.

We also desperately need more good research on what is the best use of a fish. Take them by the ton and sell them? Or spread them non-commercially and equally among all citizens?

The second option, though proven better over and over, is a truth the managers refuse to hear, preferring the…

Meaningless babble.

Florida Sportsman

  • Capt Bob Bryant

    I have been researching and writing articles about catch shares for a while now. I have been embroiled is some very spirited debates over the topic. In this debate there are 3 truths which are not being talked about:
    Number 1 is Data: The proponents of Sector Separation say that they will be able to provide better data ties to their permits, I say that for the recreational sector at large….whoopitdoda….How is taking data form a group of PROFESSIONAL fishermen going to give us any insight into recreational fishing and what and how the weekend warriors catch?
    Number 2 The for hire sector say they can't manage their business with the current regime; well neither can the thousands of bait and tackle store, marinas and chandlers….The truth is the for hire sector is doing well….anglers trips are staying the same or are up even though the number of active permits has dropped since 2004…I would say that fewer boats taking out the same or more passengers is a success, not a failure…Oh yeas they do whine, because the pure recreational angler is catching more of THEIR QUOTA, but that's just too bad.
    Number 3….the 800 pound gorilla in the room….this is the opening of the door into introducing Catch Shares and IFQ into the recreational fishery, this is an intolerable event that must be fought on all fronts.