Florida fisherman Casey Streeter wants to overhaul the transferable quota system, including addressing foreign ownership of U.S. fishing rights, but he says his politics are costing him when it comes to leasing quota.
“We’ve been blackballed,” says Streeter, who owns Island Seafood Market in Matlacha, Florida. “And we don’t even know who owns these fish.”
In late July of this year, Brett Tolley, a fisheries activist with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, sent out an email about Streeter’s situation.
“Florida fisherman and seafood business owner Casey Streeter has been working with several fishermen in the area to flag problems associated with the Federal catch share policy system,” wrote Tolley. They've been showing up to fishery management council meetings to offer fixes to the system as well as helping put together op-eds like this one.
“Last week, Casey received a call on behalf of the private quota investors, who control fish quota” Tolley continued. “He was told that he and his fishing community are effectively cut off from accessing fish quota because of their public critique of the catch share system.”
“A lot of people have talked to me and let me know that we won’t be able to lease quota,” says Streeter.
“I agree with Casey that we don’t want foreigners owning the quota,” says Keith “Buddy” Guindon, owner of Katie’s Seafood Market in Galveston, Texas. Guindon told Streeter that if he got people to stand up and say they wanted to change the system, the quota owners weren’t going to help him do it.
“Why would they lease him fish if he’s trying to put them out of business?” says Guindon. “He and his folks came in, and now they realize their business model isn’t working. He knows how the system works, now he wants to change it.”
Streeter argues that what he wants is to prevent the consolidation and industrialization of fisheries.
“All I want is fisheries that are controlled by the fishermen,” he says. “I don’t want a system that forces me to get big or get out. A lot of guys like me don’t want to be millionaires. We just want to make a living.”