Mistrust of Feds Moves Louisiana Toward State Waters Only Snapper Season
State opposition continues to grow toward a federal government that seems more intent on restricting recreational fishing than managing fisheries based on science and catch data.

Weapons being wielded against anglers and the states include Catch Shares, the National Ocean Council, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

In the South Carolina Legislature, a resolution has been introduced "to oppose and refuse to recognize or enforce the coastal and marine spatial plans created in South Carolina pursuant to the Authority of the National Ocean Council. (See my post of Feb. 12, States Fight Back Against National Ocean Council.)

And now Louisiana has joined the ranks of resistance. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has initiated action to implement a "Louisiana only" red snapper recreational season, set to begin 2013.

"I think the intent here is clear: A lot of recreational fishermen don't have a lot of trust in the federal regulations and the (Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management) council," said Randy Pausina of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), which supports the proposal.

"I think the proposal is going to open up a lot of dialog in the future."

Capt. Chris Moran, who owns a marina and is a charter captain, added that he fully supports Louisiana not just going along with the federal government.

"It's time to draw a line in the sand," Moran said. "It sheds light on the system. I'm watching guys buying golf clubs, play baseball, and take up other hobbies instead of fishing."

Additionally, the commission also is going to consider extending state waters from 3 miles off shore to 3 marine leagues, or 10.357 miles.

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On the Catch Shares front, meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is using its surrogates to divide and conquer in its quest to implement a management strategy that would privatize a public resource and restrict participation.

The Gulf Headboat Cooperative seems to be one of those surrogates. It wants an Exempted Fishing Permit as part of a pilot study to examine of the feasibility of implementing Catch Shares for mixed (commercial and recreational) fisheries. Under this permit, a few boats would be allowed to fish for red snapper and gag grouper outside the normal recreational fishing seasons, based on allocations given to them.

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This is all part of NOAA's "sector separation" strategy to weaken recreational angling's opposition to Catch Shares.

According to the Coastal Conservation Association, "sector separation is the proposal to formally split existing and future recreational sector allocations of harvest into separate private boat and charter/for-hire/headboat sector portions. This approach has been pushed by the Environmental Defense Fund, which is also advocating Catch Shares for the for-hire and headboat sectors."

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And remember this: If you want to stop Big Government management of recreational fishing, vote out the current administration in November.

 
 

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