This week a series of public hearings began on proposed Amendment 28, which would reallocate a greater share of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to recreational fishermen. Commercial fishermen and others who support the gulf seafood industry are encouraged to attend a hearing and speak up against the change.
According to a briefing from the Coastal Conservation Association, the move would right a past unfairness that bases anglers' catch on an allocation that was made 30 years ago.
"It's not fair." If you're a parent you've probably heard those three words many times. You'll also know that when the question of fairness comes up, there's no way to settle it so everybody's happy.
But if we're going to argue about fairness, it should apply to all aspects of the fishery, not just allocation. Since 2007, the recreational fishery has gone over quota every year except 2010 (the year of the BP oil spill). Even though its "unfair" share is set at 49 percent, the recreational sector harvested 56 percent of red snapper in 2012, going over its quota by an estimated 440,000 to 880,000 pounds.
Can you imagine what would happen if commercial fishermen overreached their quota by half a million pounds in any fishery anywhere in the United States? My guess is that they would not be granted a bigger share of the quota next year.
Again, take a look at the public hearing schedule and make your voice heard. There may be more recreational fishers than commercial harvesters out there to argue in favor of this change taking place. But the greater seafood and restaurant industry that depends on a well-managed fishery and public who enjoy eating fresh Gulf of Mexico seafood should be fighting against this too.
Photo from NOAA