A Florida commercial fisherman and an Alabama charter operator are newly appointed to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, among 22 new and returning members to the six regional U.S. Councils named by the Department of Commerce.

The new Gulf appointments “are a positive step in the right direction by maintaining a balance of interests,” according to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo named  Juan “John” Sanchez of Florida and Troy Frady, a charter captain from Orange Beach, Ala. The appointments “are a positive step in the right direction by maintaining a balance of interests on the Gulf Council, with three of the seventeen members making a living in the commercial or charter/for-hire fisheries under the Gulf Council’s purview,” according to the alliance.

However, the group added, “we still have a long way to go before there is truly balanced representation on the Gulf Council from all fishing sectors - commercial, charter/for-hire, and private anglers.”

“It’s a strong victory for the Gulf, and we don’t often get those,” said Eric Brazer, deputy director of the Shareholders’ Alliance. “We were able to maintain and protect the balance going into the next year.” 

After rebuilding successes, Gulf fisheries are under increasing pressure, said Brazer.

“Guys are fishing harder, they’re steaming farther offshore,” said Brazer. Meanwhile “the recreational fishery is being mismanaged” with ongoing controversies over survey findings and data collection, he said. 

In its June 27 statement the alliance struck a hopeful note. 

“The Secretary's decision to appoint Mr. Sanchez and Captain Frady reflects an understanding of the complexities within Gulf fisheries and the need to lead with science-based management that promotes healthy fisheries, economically viable fishing businesses, and resilient fishing communities.” 

“Mr. Sanchez brings a range of invaluable experiences and insights into the Gulf Council process. He has worked in the commercial industry for decades, including a previous appointment to the Gulf Council. He prioritizes conservation while balancing the needs of fishermen who rely on a healthy Gulf to feed their families and this great nation. His appointment also adds important diversity to this stakeholder body and creates more inclusive access for Spanish-speaking fishermen in the Gulf.”

“Captain Frady has ties to the ocean that go back 40 years through his service in the Navy and his family-centric charter fishing business in Orange Beach, Alabama. He has been a steadfast advocate for sustainable fishing practices and the economic health of the charter industry. His presence on the Gulf Council will ensure that charter/for-hire fishermen continue to have a strong voice in the management of Gulf fisheries.”

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