In a video released this week, Dean Blanchard, owner of Dean Blanchard Seafood in Grand Isle, La., declares that Corexit (the substance used ostensibly to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) sank the oil so that it didn’t wash up on the beaches and scare tourists away from the region.
The result was that the seafloor, where much of the Gulf Coast’s sea life breeds and feeds, got covered in tar mats that are stifling the recovery of Gulf of Mexico fisheries. So was the decision to use Corexit a PR move that sacrificed the seafloor in favor of white sandy beaches? If so, then the second wave of attacks will come early next week at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in New Orleans.
There the Coastal Conservation Association will be up to its old tricks again, attempting to pull fishing quota toward the recreational side and away from commercial fishing. Right now the split goes 51 percent to commercial fishermen and 49 percent to recreational.
CCA would like to set a benchmark that allows current snapper numbers to stay at the 51/49 split, but as the stock grows, the split would be weighted in favor of recreational fishing by as much as 75 percent.
The most significant problem here is that commercial red snapper is managed by catch shares in the Gulf of Mexico. When fishermen agreed to the catch share program, they took a big hit in their catch. The promise and hope of catch shares is that the shares grow as the stock gets healthier.
Setting a benchmark at the current quotas simply destroys the entire premise of catch share management.
The CCA complains that recreational fishermen aren’t getting their fair share simply because there are more of them. What they’re missing is that commercial fishermen provide fish not just for themselves but for everyone. The Gulf of Mexico fisheries are a public resource and should be managed as such. Let’s not sacrifice the gulf for the sake of tourism yet again. What will you feed your tourists who aren’t sportfishing if you don’t have commercial fishermen landing fish at local docks? A neighborhood playground isn’t much fun after you destroy the neighborhood.