Under new regulations, red grouper will be more vulnerable to overfishing by changing sector allocations. We need your help to protect this recovering stock and the American fishermen, businesses, and seafood lovers that rely on it.
On Friday, June 25, despite the unanimous opposition to reallocation by commercial fishermen, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) took Final Action on Amendment 53 (Red Grouper Recalibration and Reallocation). If implemented by the Secretary of Commerce, this Amendment would reduce the commercial quota share starting in 2022 from 76% to 59.3%, or about 600,000 pounds.
Not only is this taking fish away from an accountable sector, it's damaging to the red grouper stock. NOAA and the Gulf Council's own analyses shows that allocating more red grouper to the recreational sector results in more discards and "is more likely to result in overfishing/overfished red grouper" (Amendment 53, page xii).
This is a devastating blow to the commercial industry. Hundreds of fishermen attended public hearings and the Gulf Council meeting in Key West to tell the Gulf Council how taking away red grouper quota will hurt their livelihoods, their businesses, and the American consumer.
America's seafood industry is uniting in opposition to this Action. The justification NOAA is using to take fish away from commercial fishermen and the American consumer is based on revised recreational landings through the new Fishing Effort Survey (FES). These estimates are showing that recreational fishermen caught 2-6 times more fish than previously thought. NOAA is applying those revised numbers back in time to literally rewrite history and argue that allocations should be adjusted.
This train has already left the station in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is coming for every mixed-use fishery in the country. If you are a fisherman, dock owner, seafood processor, chef, restaurateur, or a seafood-loving consumer, we need your help. Contact the Secretary of Commerce and the heads of NOAA to tell them this Action by the Gulf Council is unfair, inequitable, and does not promote conservation.
We need NOAA to reject Amendment 53 and not implement it as a Final Rule, or boats will be tied to the dock and seafood businesses will close. A sample email, as well as the contact info for Secretary Raimondo, Dr. Spinrad (head of NOAA) and Ms. Coit (Assistant Administrator of NOAA) are below. Feel free to copy the text, paste it into your email browser, and customize it to fit your background and experience.
Commercial fishermen at a public hearing in Ft. Myers, FL opposing red grouper reallocaiton.
Secretary Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Administrator – email@example.com
Janet Coit, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Secretary Raimondo, Dr. Spinrad, and Ms. Coit,
My name is (INSERT NAME) and I live in (INSERT CITY AND STATE). I am writing to you today to express my deep concern over Amendment 53 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan – Red Grouper Recalibration and Reallocation. I urge NOAA and the Department of Commerce to NOT implement this Amendment as a Final Rule for the following reasons:
Please, put the health of the fish first. Put fairness, equity, and maximum access for the American people ahead of dead discards and elite access by a small group of private anglers. Please reject Amendment 53 and do not implement it as a Final Rule.
Thank you for your consideration,
This graphic is from the Gulf Council and shows the current allocation splits for red grouper and other speices in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA's own data shows that recreational fishermen discard between two million and seven million fish per year. This will only get worse with red grouper reallocation.
This doucment is a summary of the public comments recieved by the Gulf Council on Amendment 53. The comments overwhelmingly came from commercial fishermen and were against reallocation.
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