Better science and data, not catch shares

csf logoWith the exception of three mini-seasons (2012-2014) the red snapper fishery in the South Atlantic has been effectively closed for over six years. By most accounts from fishermen, red snapper are very plentiful – they are routinely encountered while fishermen target other species and divers report large schools. Yet, the stock assessment presented to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in June says that red snapper are still overfished and that overfishing is still occurring. This despite a lot of uncertainty about the data used in the assessment. Give the SAFMC credit for not accepting the assessment and asking its Scientific and Statistical Committee to reexamine the assessment and stock status determination this fall. The ongoing saga of the red snapper fishery highlights the fact that stock assessments can be flawed because of the lack of good biological and historical abundance information. In other words, much better science and data on our fisheries is needed. Instead of devoting adequate financial resources into stock assessments, NOAA has spent about $160 million over the last six years pushing its National Catch Share Policy in an effort to privatize fisheries. Studies have shown that catch share programs hurt fishing communities by destroying jobs and don’t provide any biological benefit to fisheries. 10:36