Congressmen supporting industry exemption?
And that's just on land, and doesn't include the massive royalties paid for offshore oil leases.
I'm wondering why the same thing doesn't apply to the U.S. commercial IFQ fishery, especially in light of the lack of funding available for fisheries assessments, enforcement, habitat enhancement, etc. and our huge national debt.
The commercial fisheries play an important role in our socio-economic fabric of our coastal communities, but IFQ shareholders have, for some odd reason, been gifted "ownership" rights to over half of our red snapper in the Gulf, in addition to sizable %'s of other species including grouper, tilefish, etc. in the Gulf, groundfish in the NE, and crab, halibut, sablefish, etc. in the Pacific. That's like the federal government gifting over half of the oil found under our soil to oil corporations to do with what they please - if that's not acceptable in that industry, why is it acceptable in our nation's IFQ industry?
Not only have commercial IFQ shareholders been exempted from paying the nation royalties, but the system has been set up so that they actually COLLECT the nation's royalties when they lease OUR fish to other commercial fishermen. In the commercial red snapper fishery here in the Gulf of Mexico, the current lease rate is about $3/pound. Considering that the wholesale dockside price of red snapper is about $4.50, that equates to a 67% royalty fee that they are collecting and depositing into their private bank accounts. The royalties cited below are based on 12.5% to 25%, so 67% is a pretty hefty fee to charge someone for something that ALL Americans own. The IFQ shareholders point to the paltry 3% Cost Recovery Fee as their "royalty" payments, but the Magnuson is very clear that is not the case.
I believe that when a Public Trust Resource has been set aside for exclusive access and harvest for profit, as is the case with the U.S. commercial IFQ program, then royalty payments are due to the American People in order to get a fair return on the profits generated. The red snapper IFQ shareholders themselves have ALREADY demonstrated that leasing the fish is a viable business model. The problem is that the neither the nation, nor the fisheries are benefiting one penny from the profits derived from the harvest of OUR fish. Currently, many IFQ shareholders don't even own a commercial fishing permit - they simply set themselves up to collect the millions of dollars from royalties derived from leasing OUR fish. The system needs to be changed to prohibit leasing between fishermen and that the fishermen ACTUALLY DOING THE FISHING lease their fish directly from the government. This would create a revenue stream of millions of dollars per year that COULD be directed towards improving our fisheries instead of padding private bank accounts at our expense.
"U.S. federal oil and gas royalties are payments made by companies to the federal government for the oil and gas extracted on public lands and waters. With a royalty, owners of the resource—in this case, U.S. taxpayers—collect a share of the profits based on the value or volume of the oil and gas extracted. On taxpayer-owned federal lands such as those managed by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM, oil and gas companies pay royalties to the U.S. Treasury, making royalties one of the federal government’s largest nontax sources of revenue. With the exception of Alaska, the revenue is split with about half going to the Treasury and half going to the state where the federal lease is located. While all taxpayers have a financial interest in ensuring that royalties on federal lands deliver a fair return, oil and gas producing states—primarily those concentrated in the West—have a particular high stake, as this money goes to fund schools, roads, and other priorities."
I wonder if these Congressmen below (RANDY WEBER and KEVIN MCCARTHY) realize they are endorsing an industry that is not paying it's fair share of its profits to the nation for the privilege of profiting from the harvest of our Public Trust Resources? Now, apparently the EDF-funded charter captains below are pushing to move the for-hire sector into the commercial sector to avoid intersector trading issues, and I'm pretty sure they will want to take their 42.7% of the recreational quota with them. If successful, that would increase the commercial % of our red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico to almost 72%, royalty-free of course.