March 15, 2011
Dear Chairman Cupka:
We are disappointed, but understand the South Atlantic Fishery
Management Council's decision to pull the commercial snapper grouper
catch share option out of Amendment 21, especially with all of the
complex, controversial, and legally-mandated actions you must focus on
right now. The discussion surrounding your decision was encouraging,
as it sounds like there is a lot of continued support for a commercial
snapper grouper catch share.
We would like to see management that meets the Council's and
fishermen's goals of preventing overfishing and reducing bycatch,
improving data, and increasing the safety of and profitability for
fishermen. We're concerned that Amendment 21, as it stands now, will
not meet these goals.
We understand that catch shares are controversial right now. Most
fishery regulations are. Catch shares were controversial in the Gulf
of Mexico, but now they're an accepted practice for commercial
fisheries because they've improved management and the lives of many
If possible, we have several recommendations:
- Identify and group public comment by: 1) which fishery or fisheries
are represented (snapper grouper, mackerel, dolphin, etc.), 2) which
sectors are represented (commercial, for-hire, or private angler) 3)
other (restaurants, coastal businesses, individual, organization,
etc.). This might help to break out the approximately 700 permit
holders from the rest of the voices weighing in.
- Allow Council and/or NMFS staff to continue to work with interested
fishermen to build upon existing catch share design options to help
show other fishermen how a catch share might work for them.
- Work on improved data collection and monitoring for our fishery.
Vessel monitoring systems, electronic reporting, and/or video
monitoring are desperately needed. Implementation of these as a part
of 18A or another amendment nearing approval is a step in the right
Those of us that support catch shares for the commercial snapper
grouper fishery will continue to reach out to our fellow fishermen to
promote sustainable fishing and catch shares. Many fishermen are being
misinformed about catch shares and still have a lot of questions. We
will continue to share fact-based information about catch shares and
improve upon the draft catch share design options we've already worked
on to help show the Council and other fishermen see what a catch share
might look like for the fishery.
We look forward to working with the Council toward a commercial
snapper grouper catch share in the near future.
Thanks for all of your hard work.
South Atlantic Fishermen's Association
Matt Ruby, Interim President (Little River, SC)
Phil Conklin, Vice President (Murrells Inlet, SC)
Chris Conklin, Treasurer (Murrells Inlet, SC)
Larry Jones, Secretary (Cayce, SC)
David Thomas, Board Member (St. Matthews, SC)
Scott Vaeth, Board Member (Key Largo, FL)
Pete Boehm, Board Member (Key Largo, FL)