SAFMC Meets on Snapper/Grouper Fishery

Visioning meetings ask for angler input.

By Rob Harris, FS Forum Conservation Front Moderator

SAFMC is holding what are called “Port Meetings” to try and shape the future of the Snapper/Grouper fishery. Last night was the meeting in Key West and I attended it.

Today, April 2nd, they are meeting at Key Largo Fisheries in Key Largo.

4:00-6:00 PM – RSVP
Key Largo Fisheries
1313 Ocean Bay Dr., MM 100 Oceanside (Restaurant Side)
Key Largo, FL 33070

The first meeting in Key West was structured into 2 parts: Identifying Issues and Recommending Solutions.

This was achieved by staff handing out paper for you to write what you feel the issues are first. These papers were then put on the wall and discussed, then aligned into main topics of the groups choosing. We had about 10 people present. Two to three Commercial, two For-Hire and the rest were NGO or interested parties.

Once the topics were selected and the issues identified, the topics were numbered and the group then wrote recommended solutions which were placed on the wall under their headers. Each was discussed to give the writer the opportunity to support their opinion.

We did have one unidentified participant who twice listed ITQs as a recommended solution. ITQs, for those that don’t know, are Individual Transferable Quotas. That is the Fisheries term for “Catch Shares”. He was very slow, reluctant I would say, to respond with anything in support of his recommendation. Even went so far as to say that he doesn’t fish for snapper/grouper, but listed it anyway. Obviously I do not agree with Catch Shares, nor ITQs.

There were several variations of problems noted as Regional Issues. Multiple recommended “Solutions” also pointed to creation of a new region for the Keys and management of Keys based fisheries being done by Keys Based personnel.

One of our Commercial fishermen also noted that regulations that are in place are working, at least here in the Keys. That was supported by the fact that our Keys based species, Yellowtail/Mangrove/Mutton/Black and Red Grouper, stocks are thriving.

The Commercial fishermen (all present in agreement) also noted that the two for one Commercial Program needs to be stopped so as to encourage participation.

There was one For-Hire representative present, obviously not me, that recommended limited access for charter licenses, in effect creating a Moratorium on Charterboat Permits for the South Atlantic as they have in the Gulf of Mexico. The only way that I could support this is if when a Captain/Boat Owner decides to retire/stop fishing, his Federal Permits go back into the pool of availability. NOT sold to the highest bidder, as happens in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you would like to see more about the Visioning Project or make comments via the internet:

Meeting Schedule: http://www.safmc.net/resource-library/2014-port-meetings

What is the Visioning Project: http://www.safmc.net/resource-library/council-visioning-project

How do you submit comments electronically: http://www.safmc.net/resource-library/port-meeting-discussion

If you are planning on attending the meeting, take a moment to review the on-line comment form, it will help you prepare for the meeting.