CCA Florida Urges Opposition to Transferability of Food Shrimp Permits in Tampa Bay

From Press Release

CCA Florida strongly opposes the transferability of food shrimping permits in Tampa Bay. Those remaining permits should have been phased out years ago, as was planned, by the Marine Fisheries Commission. Otter trawls and other net gear for food shrimping are some of the most damaging and wasteful types of commercial gear. In the early 1990’s, the number of food shrimpers had grown substantially. Anglers and other conservationists had become concerned about the damage to sea grasses and the by-kill damage to juvenile fish. When the issue was brought before the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC), the Commissioners were also concerned about the damage caused by the shrimpers. The MFC reached a compromise with the Tampa Bay shrimpers that the existing food shrimpers would be required to get a permit and when the shrimper decided to stop shrimping the permit would expire. The Marine Fisheries Commission was the precursor agency to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Discussions with previous MFC staff and the MFC Chairman at the time clearly indicate the program was a phase out program for food shrimping in Tampa Bay. The rules and the Legislation passed to implement the program also indicate a phase out. The MFC Chairman stated that it was intended to allow the commercial fisher to “shrimp until you’re out”.

The FWC staff recommendation will prevent the phase out of food shrimping in the bay. Allowing the transfer of permits, and likely sale, will make it difficult to remove the food shrimpers and their damaging gear. Those who pay to enter the fishery will fight to prevent ending the program if tranferability occurs. In addition there is a possibility of more shrimpers demanding to be included in the program.

The MFC made a clear distinction between food shrimping and bait shrimping. Bait shrimp fishers do not have the same impact on the environment as food shrimpers because of the gear used and their method of fishing. Photos and videos of the two types of shrimping vividly illustrate the difference. Bait shrimping is done with roller trawls which roll across the shallow waters and grass beds. The nets are frequently emptied into live wells on the boat deck and sorted out. The bait shrimpers want live shrimp so the live wells are aerated and the catch is carefully separated with the shrimp placed in another live well and the finfish by catch released alive over the side. In addition the bait shrimpers only fish until they reach the number of live shrimp that they need for their local contracts, not for the total food market.

The remaining food shrimpers have had 20 years to amortize their original investments. They have had exclusive commercial access to that public resource over that time period. It is time to get all the food shrimpers out of Tampa Bay.

ACT NOW! SEND YOUR EMAILS OPPOSING THE TRANSFERABILITY OF SHRIMPING PERMITS IN TAMPA BAY TO THE TAMPA BAY AGENCY ON BAY MANAGEMENT AT: suzanne@tbrpc.org