Hold Feet To Fire

Hold Feet To Fire
NOAA has said it will revisit harvest allocations on a regular basis. (Courtesy Tom McCann/Ocean Conservancy)

La. Sen. Vitter gets NOAA Fisheries to assure allocation review

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) knows how to get action.

Vitter championed recreational fishing this week by securing assurances from Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), that NOAA would implement their own policies by pushing for a review of the outdated fishery allocations currently in place.

Last week, Senator Vitter notified the Commerce Secretary that he would hold Sullivan’s confirmation until NOAA took action.

Vitter specifically requested two things from NOAA: 1) NOAA direct the Regional Fishery Management Councils to implement the broad allocation provisions of NOAA’s own National Catch Share Policy; and 2) NOAA take steps to address the current allocation issues in the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper fishery.


A few days after announcing his hold, Vitter received a letter from Dr. Sullivan which addressed his concerns agreeing to follow through on his request. Specifically, Dr. Sullivan reiterated NOAA’s continued support of the policy which states that “harvest allocations to fishery sectors should be revisited on a regular basis.”


In addition, Roy Crabtree, NOAA Regional manager, sent a letter to Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Chairman Doug Boyd asking that the Gulf Council “complete its review of the red snapper allocation” during its February 2014 meeting.


“We commend Sen. Vitter for stepping up to the plate on behalf of recreational fishermen and highlighting the need for NOAA to adhere to its own policy,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “Using data from the 1980s to dictate allocation in 2013 just doesn’t make sense. Modern economic, demographic and conservation criteria should be examined regularly to make these determinations.”

Most government agencies are well-versed with the concept of assessing and allocating public resources in areas such as the timber, energy and telecommunication industries. Unlike the complex systems used to evaluate those resources, however, NOAA Fisheries has relied on simple, past catch history to set allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors.

The process involves selecting a snapshot in history -- usually a span of three years -- and basing allocations on how much the commercial sector caught over that time frame versus how much the recreational sector caught.The snapshot used for red snapper is from the 1980s, around the time when shrimp trawl bycatch of juvenile red snapper caused the recreational snapper harvest to decline by 87 percent from 1980-1984. The allocation of 51 percent commercial to 49 percent recreational that was produced by that process still stands today.


Vitter ensured that the Gulf Council will at last bring red snapper reallocation efforts to the table for its February meeting, but without a formal allocation process, the ultimate outcome is still unclear and will bear continued monitoring.

“Anglers throughout the country owe a debt of gratitude to Senator David Vitter for his common sense approach to fisheries management policy,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “As a result of his efforts, NOAA is now focused on the issue and the process appears to be moving in the right direction -- although we will all need to stay actively involved in the process.”

The Secretary of Commerce is legally obligated, along with the Fishery Management Councils, to establish procedures to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of fish harvest for Gulf red snapper, and every other federally managed fishery.


Three years ago, the Obama Administration committed to review guidelines for implementing fair and equitable allocations. While some preliminary work has been done to develop options for moving forward with allocation reviews, so far, neither NOAA nor any Council has produced such guidelines.

“Thanks to Senator David Vitter we can now look with a hopeful eye to the February 2014 meeting of the Gulf Council and hope that federal managers do their job and finally address allocation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “Senator Vitter’s commitment to this issue appears to have finally moved the needle in the direction of government responsibility.”

Recommended for You

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish! Bass

Baitfish for Bass: Search, Suspend or Sink Crankbaits

Jason Houser - May 21, 2019

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish!

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Costa

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Catfish

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.