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The Truth About Sector Separation, a letter from Bob Zales

02/01/2017 9:56 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

Subject: truth about sector separation is finally revealed, you do not want IFQs or inter sector trading in the for hire industry

As more and more word comes from the recent joint ad hoc aps meeting in New Orleans on 1-9 & 10, we are learning the “rest of the story” on the edf/cfa push for sector separation.  The headboat and charter for hire red snapper ad hoc aps met in a joint meeting on 1-9 & 10.  While each sector has its own ad hoc ap to suggest management for its sector, apparently there is a large number of headboats out of the 67 + - that does not meet the criteria to receive any red snapper quota and now those headboat owners want to join the charter for-hire sector.  After much discussion among the 2 sectors near the end of the meeting on the 10th there was a heavy push by the edf/cfa group to combine amendments 41 and 42.  The edf/cfa crowd showed their real colors on sector separation by pushing the ability to trade (inter sector trading) quotas among and between both sectors and eventually with the commercial IFQ owners. 

The big reason for all this is that the numbers produced by the nmfs on the amount of red snapper, now they want to add red and gag grouper, greater amberjack, and triggerfish to the mix, each boat will receive is nowhere near what the edf/cfa group has told folks and expected under an IFQ program in the charter for-hire and headboat sector.  Imagine that as some of us have been doing the math for over 6 years and apparently true math doesn’t change.  2+2 is still 4 and 100 divided by 10 is still 10.  

As some of us have discussed over the years, the only way for a small number of charter for-hire and headboats can obtain enough red snapper to have a decent quota and allowing them to fish an adequate number of days is to lease or purchase quota from others meaning a few will be harvesting red snapper and other species while many will not.  Much like the current commercial red snapper IFQ program where 55 people own almost 80% of the total quota, under a for-hire IFQ program where inter sector trading is allowed there will ultimately be a small number of for-hire owners who will own the majority of recreational quota. 

As some may have heard over the past day or so the U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the U.S. District Court opinion regarding sector separation in favor of the NMFS.  This means that sec sep will remain in effect unless there is Congressional action under the Trump Administration to eliminate the rule that extends the sunset for another 5 years implemented on Jan 3.  There is a little known act, Congressional Review Act, that has been in effect for many years plus new legislation recently passed by the House, Regulatory Review Act, that only becomes law if the Senate also approves it that could eliminate the rule meaning sec sep would end.  Under these acts any rule or regulation, passed by Congress or approved by any fed agency, that becomes effective within 60 days prior to the new administration begins could be eliminated.  The possibility of either act eliminating the sec sep rule is slim but could happen. 

So assuming the Congressional Acts do not impact the rule then sec sep is here to stay.  There is a big push by the edf/cfa group to have the council approve IFQs and inter sector trading so a few can be big winners while the majority become the losers.  The next Council meeting is in New Orleans the week of 1-30 thru 2-2 with public testimony on Wed 2-1.  The meeting is at the Astor Crown Plaza on the edge of the French Quarter at 739 Canal Street.  The public testimony begins at 2:30.  Other ways to comment, not nearly as effective, are by email to gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org.  If you do not care if the for-hire fishery ends up in the hands of a few then don’t do anything.  If you are concerned about your future in the for-hire fishery then I strongly suggest you get involved NOW.  Your future and your ability to continue in your for-hire business is at stake. 

Feel free to share this with anyone you know, especially in the for-hire fishery. 


Capt. Bob Zales, II 


PH 850-763-7249

Fax 850-763-3558 

"Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom."  Thomas Jefferson

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