By Capt. Tom Adams
Mexico Beach Charters
Six years later we are back again at the same crossroads. Shorter red snapper seasons and the EDF backing a select few commercial and charter fishermen advocating for Sector Separation. Most of you might say, “I thought Catch Shares had been tabled.”
Well, it has, so the EDF and their small percentage of commercial and Charter fishermencame up with another way to get the same idea back on the table ”Sector separation.” This is the new term now,a revised plan to take more Red Snapper away from recreational fishermenand give it to the charter boats.
If not for the efforts of our Rep. Steve Southerland, his team(locally Melissa Thompson) and others in Washington this scheme to take more Snapper and fishing days away from would have already passed. We are in a battle right now to keep the public’s access to our gulf fishopento the public. EDFhas been pumping over a million dollars into small organizations likeShare the Gulfand Gulf Fisherman’s Association. They may still lose this war if we all get active now! Although most local commercial fishermen do not agree with what is happening, it is being pushed through the Gulf council, National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA, at record pace with the seemingly unlimited funds of the EDF, Oceans Conservancy and Pew.
They want to take your fish away, shorten your fishing seasons and limit the future opportunities for anglers to participate in our rich fishing heritage. A final hearing took place Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. CT in Biloxi, MS and was open for public comment. For all anglers that didn’t even get a chance to fish for red snapper this year, now is the time to be heard.
Write your Gov. Rick Scott. Write our seemingly uninterested Senators, Marco Rubio, and Bill Nelson. Tell them we want our red snapper and we don’t want Sector separation. Ask them--Where have they been? Rep. Steve Southerland has been tirelessly fighting this fight to keep our Gulf open, for us all to fish in, not just the commercial fishermen, who for some reason, get to fish year round, while we get a 9 day season.
We all need to go to Biloxi (free ride available) and either say your piece or be there to show support in keeping the Gulf a public access fishery. They may postpone the eventual vote on this needless sector separation until October in Mobile, so we need to contact our elected representatives now. Steve Southerland and the House of Representatives in Washington need our Senators and Governor to step up to the plate now and start getting as mad as we all have been the last five or six years as our fishing seasons have dwindled.
The sad thing is, we are losing access to our Gulf and the fish we like to catch and eat to an environmental group and a few greedy commercial and charter fishermen. If you want to be able to fish for snapper and grouper around here like we are used to. Get up, write some letters or make some phone calls and don’t forget to vote for our friend Steve Southerland.