Fishermen, environmentalists support individual fishing quota for dozens of Gulf of Mexico grouper and tilefish

Groups praise NOAA's progress to implement new management by January

August 31, 2009
Contact: 

Media Contact:
Laura Williamson, Environmental Defense Fund, lwilliamson@edf.org, 512.828.1690-c

Contacts:
Tj Tate, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, tjtate@shareholdersalliance.org, 904-669-8894-c
Glen Brooks, Gulf Fishermen's Association, brooks2glen@yahoo.com, 941.920.7302-c
Dave McKinney, Environmental Defense Fund, dmckinney@edf.org, 512.691.3409-o, 512.789.8052-c

Fishermen trade organizations and the Environmental Defense Fund praise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) action today to move forward with the Gulf of Mexico grouper/tilefish multi-species individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, ensuring that it will be implemented in January 2010. There are more than 1200 grouper and tilefish fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, making this one of the largest multi-species IFQ programs in federal waters of the continental U.S.

The following statement can be attributed to Tj Tate, Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, which supports commercial IFQ fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico with the goal of protecting the interests of the fishing industry:

"This is one of the most significant decisions by NOAA to save Gulf of Mexico fisheries, fishermen, and coastal fishing communities which depend on them."

"The grouper tilefish IFQ will build on the successful record of the red snapper IFQ, which has already significantly contributed to the recovery of the stressed red snapper species."

"Programs like IFQs should be implemented in the Gulf of Mexico's remaining commercial reef fish as soon as possible."

The following statement can be attributed to Glen Brooks, a grouper fisherman and President of the Gulf Fishermen's Association, which represents 200+ members throughout the Gulf, including fishermen, restaurants and the public:

"This IFQ program can't come quick enough. Full time grouper fishermen have been watching the red snapper IFQ program do so much good for fishing businesses and the stocks, and are itching to get off the sidelines and fish for grouper the same way."

"Tighter regulations are coming for gag grouper, which will reduce the amount we can catch, but the IFQ will help stabilize fishing businesses during this hard time."

The following statement can be attributed to Dave McKinney, Senior Conservation Manager for Environmental Defense Fund, who was also chair of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's advisory panel for the grouper/tilefish multispecies IFQ:

"Catch share programs, such as IFQs, have a 35 year history of managing and recovering depleted fish populations around the world in countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada, as well as right here in the U.S. in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

"NOAA is implementing a conservation-focused program that is welcomed by fishermen, managers and environmentalists alike. Grouper fishermen voted in favor of this IFQ program by more than 80%; the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted in favor by more than 75%; and Environmental Defense Fund has supported this program from day one."