Catch Shares continue to dominate the fishing discussion in many coastal communities all along Florida east coast. Proponents praise them as the answer to fishery management issues and opponents reject them as job killers.
According to NOAA, “Catch Shares is a general term for several fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached.”
Proposed new legislation will help fishing communities like New Smyrna Beach, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Florida. Each of these coastal communities gains much economic activity from the fishing industry. To stop fishing would kill jobs.
The Saving Fishing Jobs Act of 2011 (H.R. 2772) would prevent the government from imposing new catch share programs on fishing communities that oppose them. If a catch share program were to be implemented in New Smyrna Beach, for example, it would require a petition signed by at least 50 percent of fishermen in the fishery and then require a two-thirds vote of New Smyrna Beach fishermen for approval of new programs.
Other communities like Port Canaveral or Sebastian would also be protected automatically if initiation of catch shares reduces the total number of fishing jobs in the program by 15 percent or more. Under these conditions the bill would require the Secretary of Commerce to terminate the catch share program without further action by the sector involved.
Bottom line, this legislation seeks to hold the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accountable for fisheries management programs called catch shares that have been detrimental to fishermen throughout the Eastern and Gulf Coasts.
One east coast observer wrote of the catch share idea, “It will destroy the small fishermen and their families – mom and pop businesses. The economics of Catch Shares demand it.”
The bill was introduced by Representatives Jon Runyan, New Jersey, Walter Jones, North Carolina and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida.
Citizens wishing to support or oppose the bill should contact their representatives who can be found at; http://www.house.gov/representatives
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Angler Alert: Don’t forget to log you catch online at the Angler Action Program.