EFP for the select few
Fishing for the Facts about the Modern Fish Act S. 1520
Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018
By Chris Horton, Fisheries Program Director, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Let’s look at some of the key provisions of the Modern Fish Act from both the fiction being told and the facts of the matter.
Alternative management measures for recreational fisheries
- FICTION - S. 1520 would, “Inappropriately exempt the recreational sector from the necessary management discipline imposed by annual catch limits and accountability measures.”
- FACT – This provision simply frees the Councils to consider more appropriate recreational fisheries management measures when hard-poundage annual catch limits (ACL’s) are not effective. It does not exempt the recreational fisheries from adhering to annual harvest constraints. In fact, in a report from the Gulf Council’s Science and Statistical Committee on the feasibility of these alternative management measures proposed in the Modern Fish Act – “They noted that extraction rates, fishing mortality targets and harvest control rules could easily be implemented as catch limits…”
Flexibility in rebuilding timelines
- FICTION – “Injects too much flexibility and ambiguity into the rebuilding timeline for overfished stocks.”
- FACT – Both H.R. 2023 and S. 1520 eliminate arbitrary rebuilding timelines and replaces with a biologically-based timeline relative to individual species. It’s interesting to see organizations that claim to support science-based decision making opposing an effort to ensure that rebuilding plans are based on science, not an arbitrary 10-year requirement that has no scientific basis.
Temporary Moratorium on Limited Access Privilege Programs (catch shares)
- FICTION – “Both the moratorium and the study are unnecessary and unwise”.
- FACT – Of course this would be considered “unwise”, coming from the primary environmental organization that has received millions from foundations like the Walker Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to push catch shares on both commercial and recreational fisheries. What they are concerned about is that the study by the National Academy of Sciences required by this provision might find that catch share programs may not be such a good idea in mixed-use fisheries.
Process for allocation review
- FICTION – “Such reviews would divert significant resources from compelling management issues without significantly improving recreational fishermen satisfaction.”
- FACT – Reallocation of quota between sectors is a difficult, exceedingly contentious process, much of which is caused by the ambiguity of what metrics the Council should weigh in making those decisions. To make periodic reallocation reviews more efficient, this provision simply requires the National Academy of Science to provide some clear criteria to consider. In the case of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, the allocation between the commercial and recreational sectors was set more than 20-years ago, using data 10-years prior. Fisheries change over time, and with today’s technologies, families have an opportunity to catch their fish themselves, rather than just purchasing from someone who profits from the resource like a restaurant or seafood market.
- Chris Horton