National Fisherman


The Rudderpost 

jesJes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.

 

JHathaway2 I almost fell off my chair laughing this morning while reading Chris Horton's latest musings about NOAA on ESPN.

Among my favorite quotes was this little jewel, "The agency's focus has always seemed biased toward the commercial fishing sector, while recreational anglers get the crumbs."

Commercial fishermen are feeding families besides their own. They are not out there for sport, but to make a living. Shouldn't they come first when allocating the catch?

Not to mention the fact that if recreational anglers are eager for some of NOAA's attention, I'm betting commercial fishermen would be happy to share. Northeast fishermen are finally getting some recourse after chafing under excessive penalties for years. Snapper-grouper and mackerel fishermen off the Carolina coast live in constant fear of total shutdown. I don't think that's the kind of bias Mr. Horton is looking for.

In his bullet points of ways to improve management for recreational fishermen, Mr. Horton pushes for more data, then uses the example of trailering a boat just to try to catch a snapper. In the Gulf of Mexico, recreational fishermen have 49 percent of the red snapper allocation and zero controls on their catch.

Sport salmon fishermen on the West Coast are getting a season (albeit limited), but commercial fishermen are not likely to be able to make their boat payments.

Then he lays on one whopper of a fairy tale under his bullet "Catch shares." He describes them thus, "As currently designed, they're good for commercial fisheries and bad for recreational anglers."

Hmmmm. I'm starting to think Mr. Horton failed to talk to any commercial fishermen before writing this piece. Or read any op-ed pieces on the commercial fishing sector's general opinion on catch shares. Or has a clue how commercial fishermen feel about anything to do with fishery management.

Far be it from me to blame recreational fishermen for wanting to catch fish. I think it's a wonderful pastime and should certainly be preserved. I only wish representatives of that sector like Mr. Horton would wish commercial fishermen well instead of fanning the flames between the two sectors.
We need to work together to get NOAA to commit to managing the nation's fisheries appropriately and not treat anyone who fishes like they are the enemy of the sea.

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