Gulf Fishery Approves Red Snapper IFQ Plan

Plan Now Heads to Commerce Department for Implementation

March 23, 2006
Contact: 
Contact:  Pam Baker, Environmental Defense, 361-510-5743
(March 23, 2006 – Mobile, AL)   The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted late yesterday to adopt the region’s first “individual fishing quota” (IFQ) program for better management of the commercial red snapper catch.  Fishermen voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new plan with 87% of the weighted vote, and the Council has now sent the plan to the National Marine Fisheries Service in the U.S. Department of Commerce for implementation by January 1, 2007. 
 
"Environmental Defense has been working with fishermen and local communities for over 10 years to
help design and implement a red snapper fishing quota system that will revitalize our troubled
fisheries and marine ecosystems," said Regional Director for Environmental Defense’s Gulf of Mexico
Program Pam Baker.  "We now look to the Commerce Department to implement the program as
soon as possible to stop destructive fishing and get red snapper recovery on the right track."
 
In recent years, Gulf fishermen have found it increasingly difficult to earn a living, while fish stocks
have continued to decline.  To solve the economic and environmental problems facing fisheries,
Environmental Defense has been working closely with fishermen, government officials and other
partners in the Gulf of Mexico to design new market-based management programs for red snapper,
reef fish, shrimp and other key fisheries. 
 
The new IFQ program is an essential step to move Gulf fisheries away from hazardous fishing, wasted fish and financial hardship, toward secure fishing privileges, economic incentives and healthy fisheries.  The red snapper IFQ program will serve as a model for other troubled commercial and recreational fisheries in the Gulf and has the support of fishermen.
 
"Fishermen are hoping to get our lives back and put an end to the race for fish. An IFQ system should bring them better prices and bring a better product to consumers," said Donny Waters, a snapper fisherman from Pensacola, Florida.  "These programs give us a bright outlook for the fishery's future."
 
Recent hurricanes in the Gulf region have highlighted the need for better management to achieve sustainable fisheries.  Hurricane relief could help achieve conservation and economic objectives if it's targeted to reduce overcapacity and overfishing by using tools like voluntary buy-back programs and IFQs.  Fisheries reform is also a national concern at this time as the Senate moves forward with reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which governs all fishery management activities within the federal 200-mile limit.   
 
To find out more about the red snapper IFQ programs, visit http://www.oceansalive.org/explore.cfm?subnav=article&contentID=5075  

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