Reef Fish Amendment 42 (Responses)
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10/20/2015 8:31:27William PenningtonWBRP@Comcast.netCollinsville, Ms 39325Private Recreational AnglerPrivate recreational fisherman have a lot invested to be left out. This seems to bean attempt to divide recreational fishermen so the commercials & charters win and individual rec fishers are almost left out. It isn't right for the commercial guys to have over half the harvest. If I had my way commercial fishing would be left out all together. They are the ones depleting the stocks.
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10/20/2015 9:07:35David Waltersdavid@rives.comMt. Brook, Al 35243Private Recreational AnglerVote "NO".
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10/20/2015 9:36:41Sam BowenBbowen@bnspc.comGulf Shores,AL,36542Private Recreational Angler42 should be rejected. Just another way the for hire an commercial fishermen can screw over recreational fisherman. The only fish you can catch on any reef now is red snapper. They are horribly over populated, yet I only have 2 days I can legally catch them because I have to work during the week. I have stopped reef fishing because there is nothing but red snapper present and I am tired of wasting gas to throw back snapper. Just give us more weekend days and longer season. No reason I should not be able to keep a couple of snapper to feed the family. I have two young boys as well who love to fish, but will not go with me anymore because they say not worth it if we can't keep them anymore.
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10/20/2015 16:31:27stephen bowensrbowen@mysylacauga.comequality, AL 36026Private Recreational AnglerPlease do not further restrict individual sport fishing further.
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10/22/2015 18:32:47Capt Cliff CoxSweetjodyfishing@gmail.comDestin, Florida, 32540Charter/Headboat For-HireI am in favor of Amendment 42. I am on the headboat advisory panel and also participating in a very successful pilot program which has been used as reference to model a fmp for the headboats. Individual Fish Quotas are the way of the future if we want to stop overfishing and properly manage the resource. It works!
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3/31/2016 18:24:58William GouldingSgoulding6@comcast.netNaples,FL 34110Charter/Headboat For-HireWhy will you not review the moratorium on pelagic and reef licenses? It is way overdue and very unfair to those of us not holding licenses in 1997. It is not fair to the 6 pack charters that are limited to 9 miles, especially unfair to charters that do spearfishing. There is no visibility until you get 10 miles out and it's only 40 foot depth at that. I think it is a restraint of trade and the same guys keep making the money. Just not right.
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9/26/2016 16:32:32ECHO ECHOMAKO2242@YAHOO.COM77471Private Recreational AnglerMORE GOVERNMENT JOBS REALLY??? $$$$ OFF THE BACKS OF WORKING PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO FISH THIS ENTIRE FEDERAL CRAP IS TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL AND OUT OF TOUCH WITH WHATS HAPPENING $$$$$$
I HOPE TRUMP SHUTS YALL DOWN PERIOD
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12/14/2016 9:54:04Capt tom Adams4tomadams@gmail.comport st joe. fl 32456Private Recreational Angler, Charter/Headboat For-HireAlt 1 only There is no way you nan make special seasons for headboats without doing the same for charterboats All headboats and charterboats are only taxis taking recreational fishermen out to fish They have the same permits and should be treated the same as all federally permitted charterboats. all with the same season and the same chance to make a living
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3/22/2017 9:28:57Christopher Dombkowskidaiwafan25@yahoo.comDayton, Ohio 45434 AND Cibolo TexasPrivate Recreational Angler, Charter/Headboat For-HireI would like to see a quota split for the head/for hire boats. I believe that 50% of the quota should come from the commercial side and 50% should come from rec angler side to satisfy the fact that their endeavors are indeed from both angles. They are making monetary income off the public resource while still providing a recreational opportunities. This would allow charters and headboats a longer snapper season so they should be interested in this as well it would be a major win for them as well as helping to satisfy/ease the burden on the rec angler side of some of the issues at hand.
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7/31/2017 8:00:10Tom Adams
4tomadams@gmail.com
Prot St. Joe, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Pleas postpone all actions on headboats and charterboats You do not have data from ALL the states and if you wait a few months You will have much added data and much more complete data. Also most charterfishermen are still very busy and cannot attend. Also it is not being held in a centrally located area. also the main season will be over by the next meeting after august and you can get a lot more input from a lot more permit holders It is an extremely bad idea to vote on any actions or amendmentd that concern charterboats and /or heaboats until later this year.



This attempt to take final action on two such important issues that will forever affect the vessel owners and sector is ill-conceived and borders on complete irresponsibility at best and shows the NMFS/Council agenda to force a style of management on fishers at worst. The facts that the majority of the vessel owners affected do not want such management, the extremely late production of the documents to be finalized that will have less than 4 weeks to review and study in order to provide any type of reasonable comment, and the lack of complete data to review shows the fast track of the NMFS/Council agenda that completely ignores the will of those affected most. So all understand, the proposed referendums are not simple proposed regulations that may change yearly or seasonally like most regulations that affect what we are able to harvest, when and how. The most important decision a person who enters the for hire charter/headboat business will make is to enter the business or not. The next most important decision that person will make will be to support or not a catch share program that will affect that business for ever. Trying to make such an important decision on the proposed document in such a short period of time and based on incomplete data is, frankly, plain irresponsible. As members of the Council, the staff, the staff of the NMFS, and others working on this agenda, surely you would not make such an important decision that will affect you and your family’s future on such a presentation.



The final action proposed for the referendums must be moved to the Biloxi Oct meeting to be fair to the vessel owners who will be affected the most. We strongly urge the NMFS/Council, as we have in the past, to eliminate further discussion on this issue and move to working on more important management issues.


As an owner of a state permitted boat and a federally permitted boat I am requesting an OPPORTUNITY to be there. It is impossible for MOST charter business owners to attend the August meeting. Thanks
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7/31/2017 8:00:38Tom Adams
4tomadams@gmail.com
Port St. Joe, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Pleas postpone all actions on headboats and charterboats You do not have data from ALL the states and if you wait a few months You will have much added data and much more complete data. Also most charterfishermen are still very busy and cannot attend. Also it is not being held in a centrally located area. also the main season will be over by the next meeting after august and you can get a lot more input from a lot more permit holders It is an extremely bad idea to vote on any actions or amendmentd that concern charterboats and /or heaboats until later this year.



This attempt to take final action on two such important issues that will forever affect the vessel owners and sector is ill-conceived and borders on complete irresponsibility at best and shows the NMFS/Council agenda to force a style of management on fishers at worst. The facts that the majority of the vessel owners affected do not want such management, the extremely late production of the documents to be finalized that will have less than 4 weeks to review and study in order to provide any type of reasonable comment, and the lack of complete data to review shows the fast track of the NMFS/Council agenda that completely ignores the will of those affected most. So all understand, the proposed referendums are not simple proposed regulations that may change yearly or seasonally like most regulations that affect what we are able to harvest, when and how. The most important decision a person who enters the for hire charter/headboat business will make is to enter the business or not. The next most important decision that person will make will be to support or not a catch share program that will affect that business for ever. Trying to make such an important decision on the proposed document in such a short period of time and based on incomplete data is, frankly, plain irresponsible. As members of the Council, the staff, the staff of the NMFS, and others working on this agenda, surely you would not make such an important decision that will affect you and your family’s future on such a presentation.



The final action proposed for the referendums must be moved to the Biloxi Oct meeting to be fair to the vessel owners who will be affected the most. We strongly urge the NMFS/Council, as we have in the past, to eliminate further discussion on this issue and move to working on more important management issues.


As an owner of a state permitted boat and a federally permitted boat I am requesting an OPPORTUNITY to be there. It is impossible for MOST charter business owners to attend the August meeting. Thanks
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8/9/2017 15:27:38Dylan Hubbard
dhubbard@hubbardsmarina.com
St. Petersburg, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
We still hold to the fact that we would demand not to see this type of Allocation based management in the for-hire sectors in any way, it is overwhelmingly opposed by the nearly 80 federal permits we represent. As we have stated in previous public comments.
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8/9/2017 16:01:52Jim McKayjdale_us@yahoo.com
I disagree very much with the idea of the federal gov gifting a select group of individuals or corporations America's public resources as it is being considered im Ams 41 & 42. I do believe if these resources are sold or bartered they are considered a commercial comedy and therefore should come from the commercial quota. Anyway you look at it this resource will be the selling fact of the charter trips or bartered between other captains.
Do the right thing and not pass Ams 41 & 42.

Thanks Jim McKay.
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8/9/2017 16:01:58Jim McKayjdale_us@yahoo.com
I disagree very much with the idea of the federal gov gifting a select group of individuals or corporations America's public resources as it is being considered im Ams 41 & 42. I do believe if these resources are sold or bartered they are considered a commercial comedy and therefore should come from the commercial quota. Anyway you look at it this resource will be the selling fact of the charter trips or bartered between other captains.
Do the right thing and not pass Ams 41 & 42.

Thanks Jim McKay.
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9/26/2017 7:37:10Bob Zales bobzales2@gmail.comPanama City Beach, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
On behalf of the members of the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) and the Panama City Boatmen Association (PCBA) I strongly encourage the Gulf Council to permanently table any and all actions on the above subject matter. These proposed actions, that have consumed thousands of tax dollars, months of staff time, and have caused stakeholders to spend countless personal money and time are unnecessary, completely unfair to the federally permitted small family business owners across the Gulf of Mexico, and will only serve to reduce fleet capacity eliminating vessel owners and crews creating chaos within the industry and among those who wish to utilize our services. Let me explain.

According to NMFS/Council data contained in several amendments regulating the Gulf Reef Fish Fishery, in particular RF Amendment 40 (Sector Separation), when the current moratorium on Gulf charter/headboat federal permits was under development as of August 2000 there were 1650 federally permitted charter/headboat vessels. The number of permitted vessels steadily dropped from 1650 in 2000 to 1519 in '08, 1473 in '09, 1432 in '10, 1396 in '11, 1378 in '12, and 1368 in '13. As of 10-24-16 there are 1247. Between 2000 and 16 years later in 2016 the # of vessels fell by 403, with the majority of that drop between 2000 and 2008 (131) which was the time of transition from open access to restricted access (which included many last minute issued permits due to speculation) and from 2013 to 2016 (121) the period of time during the whole sector separation movement to impose catch shares on the fleet. From 2008 thru 2013 the reduction of vessels was only 151 which can be considered a natural reduction due to many factors such as an excess of permits placed on inactive vessels, owners getting out of the business due to retirement age, death, or change of occupation.

I provide these numbers due to the proposed allocation plan where vessel reduction is proposed to increase the catch shares per vessel left in the fishery over time (1 year to 3 year increments). The minimum reduction of permits due to various reasons over time will not result in a substantial increase in the proposed catch shares to be provided to the vessels, meaning the initial shares allocated will not increase as some propose. The only substantial increase that can occur will be due to others leaving the business or permanently exiting the fishery which will result in a few owning the majority of the shares and thus being able to control the fishery over those who will have few shares to use. This will create an unfair competitive advantage in business, will consolidate the fishery to certain areas, will harm those fishing communities who depend on a vibrant charter fishery, those supporting businesses who support it, and the anglers who wish to charter the few remaining vessels.

The AHRS charter for Hire AP has recommended that the original species of fish to be included in the propose catch share program only include red snapper, greater amberjack, and trigger fish, eliminating both gag and red grouper. One reason for this recommendation is simple and is easily verified by the AP discussion which is to gain a positive vote for the proposed referendum since over 700 voting vessel owners are more likely to vote for the referendum if it only contains red snapper, amberjack, and trigger fish since the over 700 will still be able to fish for both gag and red grouper for most of each year under the current size and bag limits. Another reason provided by some is that both gag and red grouper are not over fished as are the other 3 species. This is now a useless argument since the NMFS has now released a federal register notice (dated today 9-25-17, for review, APPROVAL, and IMPLEMENTATION, Reef Fish Amendment 44 Revised Reef Fish Minimum Stock Size Thresholds). This Amendment will modify the current MSST for several reef fish species in the Gulf and according to the FR “If this MSST definition is approved, NMFS expects that the Gulf red snapper and gray triggerfish stocks would be reclassified as not overfished, but rebuilding, because the biomass for these two stocks is currently estimated to be greater than 50 percent of BMSY.” This means that red snapper and triggerfish would be in the same class as gag and red grouper thus making the argument that gag and red grouper should not be included in the catch share program since they are not overfished mute. If red snapper and triggerfish will soon not be classified as overfished they should be removed from the catch share program.

Removing gag and red grouper from the proposed catch share program is an end around effort to weight the vote for the positive outcome sought by the NMFS and some Gulf Council members. If this proposed catch share system and allocation based management plan is to go forward then all 5 species, originally included in the plans, must remain in the proposals. By having all 5 species included the vote will appear to be more fair, especially if red snapper and triggerfish are soon to be considered not overfished. As a side note, currently in every proposed Congressional bill to reform the MSA a weighted referendum vote for any proposed catch share program is eliminated allowing only one vote for one permit. The efforts of the past by the NMFS to skew catch share program votes by artificially weighting them has clearly met the ire of Congress and should be applied to any future catch share votes.

According to an email sent to most people on my list (see below), using the NMFS/Council data you can see that if the red snapper for hire charter harvest numbers are equally divided among the 1247 permitted vessels they each receive only 1747 pounds. Depending on the average size of the fish this relates to 250 to 291 red snapper per boat. Even using the extremely complicated formula developed by NMFS/Council staff to use a 25%/25%/50% scenario the most poundage for a COI passenger vessel that carries more than 6 people is around 3,000 pounds. While some areas of the Gulf may love to have those numbers, in the areas of the northern and eastern Gulf where the historical catch and effort have been, those numbers will not sustain a viable fishery. Management is not and should not be tasked with creating equality in fishing operations. Fair and historical business competition is the cornerstone of American society. It is not the job of Government to make all business equal eliminating such competition. The proposed plans above remove the American business model and move to make all charter fishing equal in every area. Historical participation, working years creating experience and knowledge of the fisheries and business, suffering through natural and manmade disasters and high and low economic times become meaningless as this proposed plan makes all participants equal whether they fished 1 year or 50 years.

In the majority areas of the Gulf where the majority of the federally permitted vessels operate, fishing operations and business is best during the historical tourist season of the middle of May thru the middle of August. This period is when most tourist and anglers plan to come to the Gulf to seek recreation and access and opportunities to fish, This period is the most productive in the number of tourist and the dollars they add to local communities across the Gulf. This is the period for the best weather and the most species of fish are available to seek. Our members fully support a fixed number of days for a season over any catch share program. Many of you hear the scare tactics by some that if a catch share program is not established and Amendment 40 sunsets so sector separation will disappear that the for hire charter fleet will revert back to the days of 1 to 2 weeks of fishing. This is a blatant lie and is used to only scare people of their future. The only reason A40 (sector separation) was needed was to begin the development of a catch share program for the for hire sector. A40 was not necessary for the NMFS to manage the federally permitted for hire charter, headboat, or private recreational anglers with different seasons, bag limits, or size limits. All 3 sectors of the recreational fishery could have and can be managed as they are today without A40.

No where in the MSA does it specifically state or imply that the recreational fishery, including the charter fishery, must be managed as 1 unit. In fact, National Standard 4 addresses this issue as it states " (4) Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of different States. If it becomes necessary to allocate or assign fishing privileges among various United States fishermen, such allocation shall be (A) fair and equitable to all such fishermen; (B) reasonably calculated to promote conservation; and (C) carried out in such manner that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privileges." It is clear that the recreational quota can be allocated differently and fishing privileges such as a different season can be done as long as such is done fairly and equitably.

I respectfully submit that the statements above provide the rationale for the Council to permanently table all included in the subject line above. I will be available to answer any questions during the Council meeting and during my testimony.

Thank you,

Capt Bob Zales, II
President
NACO & PCBA
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9/28/2017 11:34:01Steve and Anita Rosstiaross60@gmail.comPanama City Beach, FL
agree and stand with Bob Zales II as stated in his email to you and quoted below:

"Since the publication of the Federal Register notice on 9-25-17 to modify the MSST level and how it will significantly change the status of red snapper and triggerfish there is no rush to approve any catch share program and referendum for the charter/headboat fishery in the Gulf. If the Council is not willing to completely table these proposals at this time, at least table further discussion until the FR is approved and we learn more on the future management of red snapper and triggerfish. With the much improved status of both species and the real possibility they will both be considered no longer overfished or under going overfishing the proposed catch share programs and referendums are unnecessary."

Please send something asap. Thanks,
Bob


I would also like to add: Any Catch Share Program would put our Small Charter Business OUT OF BUSINESS based on your Catch Share Referendum!! We prefer the Derby Style Season!!
Thank you,
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9/28/2017 11:34:30Steve and Anita Rosstiaross60@gmail.comPanama City Beach, FL
agree and stand with Bob Zales II as stated in his email to you and quoted below:

"Since the publication of the Federal Register notice on 9-25-17 to modify the MSST level and how it will significantly change the status of red snapper and triggerfish there is no rush to approve any catch share program and referendum for the charter/headboat fishery in the Gulf. If the Council is not willing to completely table these proposals at this time, at least table further discussion until the FR is approved and we learn more on the future management of red snapper and triggerfish. With the much improved status of both species and the real possibility they will both be considered no longer overfished or under going overfishing the proposed catch share programs and referendums are unnecessary."

Please send something asap. Thanks,
Bob


I would also like to add: Any Catch Share Program would put our Small Charter Business OUT OF BUSINESS based on your Catch Share Referendum!! We prefer the Derby Style Season!!
Thank you,
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10/4/2017 9:50:28Joe Nash
captjoenash@gmail.com
Orange Beach, Alabama
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Joe Nash from Orange Beach, Al. charter for hire. I am in support of keeping sector seperation and a management plan for Charter for hire, also electronic logbooks should be mandatory.
Amberjacks open Aug 1 2018..
Support Amendments 41 and 42
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10/4/2017 11:15:11Pam Anderson
pamheartsofhope@aol.com
Panama City Beach, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
Madam Chair and Council Members;
Good Afternoon, I am Pam Anderson, Operations Manager of Capt. Anderson's Marina and the fishery rep on our Bay County Govt. Affairs Committee. This year is Capt. Anderson's Marina's 60th anniversary being at its present location, but forefathers started taking passengers for hire in 1935.
To address the summary of the Headboat Reef Fish Advisory Panel, I am the one that made the motion to have the headboat component continue with Seasons, size limits, and bag limits. Without set seasons fishing customers do not have a specific time to ask for vacations, to access their preferred species. Without size limits, smaller fish are not allowed to continue to grow the stock. Bag limits keep us within our ACL's, as has been shown in recent years. We do not need further restrictions in order for the headboat component to be accountable. We have provided needed data since 2000 or earlier.
With the catch share program, our 60 passenger headboat would have had 15 days with 1 fish per angler, according to the estimated allocations in 2015, instead of 2 trips of 60 passengers, 2 snapper each for 49 days. Those requesting that limitation either are banking on others failing in this business, giving themselves more allocation, or want intersector trading so they can purchase and lease shares. Either way is not good for the industry. Another note is this panel is not representative of a fair balance of headboat operators' viewpoints. This group is not representative of the true opinion of the overall headboat component.
One more thing I would like to say about the votes taken during this meeting. For those of us who do not want a catch share program, we participated in the discussions and choices of different alternatives, simply as a way of saying, 'If we are forced into this type of program, these choices would be the lesser of the evils.
Our captains need fair and consistent access when customers can fish. Access has been a significant problem in recent years. Our customers will not buy tickets if they believe there is no chance of catching and keeping some of the species they desire. That is why, in Red Snapper season, our boats are full, running every day the weather permits, and why they drop to less than half full without Red Snapper-due to accessibility. Many cancel trips to Panama City Beach if last minute closures are implemented as they were for amberjack earlier this year.
We need to offer targeted species when our customers have the opportunity to be on vacation, or on a special weekend, or during school breaks. This is why it is so important to have access to at least some of these target species in spring and fall seasons as well as in the summer.
Captains have to be good at their jobs to keep customers happy day after day. Most of the captains at Capt. Anderson's Marina are exceptional. Folks trust us to tell them the truth and do their best to provide a fun experience for their families, friends, and business associates.
We all need to continue to be conservationists, providing for our future business. Most anglers do that every day. Many of our guys, along with others in the community, are working together to provide more habitat through our artificial reef programs. This industry would not have survived without our being the conservationists we are. Red Snapper are plentiful.
I am grateful our scientists have shown this in the MSST document for Red Snapper and Triggerfish. We cannot continue down this current road of excess regulations and needlessly continuing negative economic impacts to our boats, our marinas, or our communities.
We need for you to stop catch shares now. Thousands across the Gulf have responded to the catch share agenda, saying 'no' to this insidious program that privatizes our natural resource and harms businesses, picking winners and losers in the industry.
We need for you to provide greater access to red snapper, triggerfish, and, even amberjacks. The reason we 'overfished' the weight limit of amberjacks is due to a mistake of this Council. The Council chose to increase the size limit of AJs by 4 inches in one year which caused overfishing the ACL -bigger fish weigh more. We did not catch MORE fish, we caught heavier fish. If we had gradually raised the size limit, one year at a time, the 'overfishing' would not have occurred. We would not have to be considering these drastic measures that might give us more access to AJs if the Council would have listened to our common sense fishermen. Choosing winners and losers in this fishery is obviously still an unstated purpose of this Council, whether through catch shares or other means. Amberjack closures are one of those other means. By shutting down the spring season for AJs, this Council is continuing to eliminate opportunity to fish, opportunity to offer access to a target fishery when anglers want to access it., costing and most likely, eliminating more businesses and jobs.
You have proven you can get the data you need to eliminate a lot of the uncertainties being discussed here by continuing to improve data collection by the subcomponents of the recreational sector, and requiring harvest data be collected, as it is in the headboat component. Possibly a little more information would improve the outcome, so implement that.
All can be done without eliminating businesses and jobs if you so choose.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak.
Respectfully,
Pam Anderson, Operations Manager
Capt. Anderson's Marina
Panama City Beach, FL 32408
pamheartsofhope@aol.com
850-234-3435

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10/4/2017 14:08:43Dylan Hubbard
dhubbard@hubbardsmarina.com
Madiera Beach, FL
Charter/Headboat For-Hire
My family business has been fishing central west coast of Florida for nearly 90 years and four generations. Today we operate 6 federally permitted vessels including two 65+ passenger head boats and four federally permitted charter vessels. On top of these permits, I am also here today to represent the Florida Guides association as their Offshore Director. Finally, I am a CCA life member as well. Referendum requirements for am 41 and 42
We still hold to the fact that we would demand not to see this type of Allocation based management in the for-hire sectors in any way, it is overwhelmingly opposed by the nearly 80 federal permits we represent. As we have stated in previous public comments. Also, it will create chaos and would add an additional hardship on the businesses involved in the CFH and headboat industry. We are very happy with our seasons and ability to access our fishery especially if we have the reliable season for amberjack mentioned previously. There are no ‘problems’ to address in the CFH or headboat industries so why are we working on a super complex, time consuming and expensive fix to a problem that is not there.
We would also like to comment that as far as AMs 41 and 42 are concerned we feel the both the CFH and Headboat APs were heavily weighted in support of these amendments and did not show a true cross section of the industry. Due to this, we would urge the council to consider this when weighing AP preferred and their ‘support’ for these allocation based management systems. For example, the Co-Chair of the head boat AP, my father, voted No to every motion made during the meeting except for the first to show his opposition to the idea of AM 42.
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6/7/17Dylan Hubbarddhubbard@hubbardsmarina.comFLCharter/Headboat For-HireTo start, a little background on us and our company. At Hubbard’s Marina, we operate two federally permitted head boats with 50+ passengers and four charter boats all with federal permits, two of those are multi passenger USCG inspected charter vessels. Hubbard’s Marina carries around 60,000 anglers on average per year for near shore and offshore deep sea vertical line fishing. Typically fishing depths of 10-1,000 foot off the central west coast of Florida as a family owned and operated business since 1928.

The following are our recommendations to the council regarding what has been discussed this far at the meeting. (Tab B – 13) Draft Amendment 42 – federal reef fish headboat management
Not discussed during this meeting, allowing time for Amendment 41 to catch up. However, we again urge the council to ensure Amendments 41 and 42 move together and mirror one another not only in the timeline but also by allocation and species included.

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10/03/2017Jeff LandryBaton Rouge, LACharter/Headboat For-Hire
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Counc il Reef Fish Management Committee
Via e-mail: gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org

RE: Objection to Reef Fish Management Plan, Amendments 41 and 42 Dear Council and Committee Members:
I write to express my opposition to the proposed Reef Fish Management Plan Amendments 41 and 42. I am Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, constitutionally charged to serve as the State's chief legal officer and to participate in any proceeding as necessary for the assertion or protection of any right or interest of the State. La. Const. Art. IV, §
8. The State of Louisiana' s rights and interests impacted by the amendments proposed by the Council are the preservation of fair and equal access to red snapper and the safeguarding of the public ownership of this important natural resource. These rights and interests are threatened by the proposed Amendments.

Congress recognizes the immense value of the red snapper and other fish in United States waters to the food supply, economy, health, and recreational opportunities of the Nation. 16
U.S.C. l 80l (a)(l ). Louisiana recognizes this value also, and requires protection, conservation, and replenishment of these and all natural resources of the State. La. Const. aIt. IX, § 1.

While it is not disputed that the red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico was overfished in years past, that stock is and has been rebuilding, through the efforts of this Council, the federal government, and the states. Rebuilding the red snapper stock necessitated limiting the amount of red snapper that could be caught, and in so doing, Congress split this quota between the recreational and commercial sec tors. 16 U.S.C. 1883(d). This Council further split the recreational sector quota between for-hire and private angling component. I disagree with this sector separation, for reasons explained below. And with the adoption of Amendments 41 and 42 further subdividing the for-hire quota between charter vessel and headboat sub-components, the Council would exacerbate the problems created by sector separation.

First, subdividing the recreational quota effectively walls off a substantial part of the recreational quota from the public, reducing purely recreational fishing opportunities available to the public in favor of providing a protected quota to businesses that profit from this public resource , leaving this portion of the public resource available to the individual recreational fisherman only by paying for it. While the for-hire industry no doubt serves the public interest by providing fishermen the option to hire fishing boats or spots on fishing boats, a management plan forcing them to take this option to access 42.3% of the recreational quota does comparably

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more harm to that interest. Congress did not require this sector separation, and I urge the Council to repeal it.

Further, sector separation takes a static approach to managing a dynamic issue - the result is that even where one sector is under capacity, that portion of the fishery is not available to another sector, even though landing data can easily support more adaptive management between commercial, charter and recreational fishing.

The proposed Amendments, which would further subdivide this sheltered quota, also further isolate it from individual recreational fishing opportunities apart from those available through a pay-to-fish enterprise. The Amendments also encourage more complete use of the for­ hire quota, which in the past has gone partially unused. Unused quota from the for-hire sector has been available to purely recreational anglers, at least partly mitigating the impact to the public of the sector separation. The proposed amendments instead increase the harmful impact to private angling. Congress rightly mandated protection of recreational fishing, by whatever means fishermen choose to access the fish, and this protection is not afforded by sector separation.

Second, Amendments 41 and 42 functionally grant what amounts to "ownership" of the red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico to charter and headboat permit holders. Not only is giving private entities ownership of this essential public resource entirely inappropriate and inconsistent with public resources, it is contrary to the stated will of Congress.

"An individual fishing quota or other limited access system authorization shall not create, or be construed to create, any right, title, or interest in or to any fish before the fish is harvested." 16 U.S.C. 1853a(b)(3)(D).

The IFQ program established under Amendment 42 would grant perpetual, transferrable shares in the red snapper stock to selected individuals that need not even themselves fish under their catch share. Short of forfeiture for actual wrongdoing, these catch shares would be permanent, which is the very essence of a property right, in direct violation of Congressional intent. It is no stretch to anticipate that granting such property rights in the red snapper will lead to sharecropping, as has occurred in the commercial sector.

The Amendment 41 PFQ program is less objectionable than Amendment 42's IFQ scheme because the permits would not be transferrable and it provides for periodic reallocations of unused catch shares. Though having fewer indicia of ownership of the public resource, this proposed amendment still grants ownership of catch shares and should be rejected. At the very least, Amendment 42 should be structured as a PFQ program like Amendment 41, rather than an IFQ program.

Third, both Amendments 41 and 42 provide the opportunity to obtain catch shares only to those already in the business, essentially creating a monopoly in their favor. This is particularly egregious since there has been a moratorium on for-hire permits since 2003 that has prevented others from entering the industry without paying their predecessors. Worse, the catch share caps favor the biggest of the current fishermen most by locking in their advantage. And proceeding

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with the Amendments would require referenda placing the decision in the hands of the very people who would benefit from it - an obvious and obnoxious conflict of interest. The Council should not give up its authority to manage the red snapper resource by passing these Amendments and thereby placing that authority in private hands.

Fourth, the Amendments limit competition and opportunity for other for-hire businesses by imposing an additional cost on new entrants that the current participants would never pay. Worse, that cost is payment to a private person for the right to fish the public' s fish. By contrast, Congress actually required measures to assist entry level fishermen. 16 U.S.C. 1853a(c)(5)(C). Under Amendment 42, the Advisory Panel recommended consideration of set asides for new fishermen , but given the treatment under Amendment 41, it appears likely still to require payment to existing fishermen.

Fifth, as to the Amendment 42 IFQ program, even if the granting of property rights in the red snapper stock were proper, principles of adaptive management warrant periodic reallocation, rather than one-time perpetual allocation based on some historical lookback period. Catch shares should not be locked in place forever, based on fishing effort dating back decades. Nearly real­ time catch reporting, such as Louisiana has with its LA Creel program, could provide the information needed for adaptive management and adjustments to allocation without need for lookback. In this way, Amendment 41 is less objectionable, because it at least recognizes the need for adaptive management, even the reallocations provided are only partial. Any IFQ or PFQ catch shares should periodically sunset and be reallocated on a basis that is fair and compliant with MSA.

Sixth, even if perpetual property rights were properly granted, such rights have obvious economic value and should not merely be given away. Congress required consideration of auctions for any limited access privilege programs. 16 U.S.C. 1853a(d). The Amendment Advisory Panel does not address this, other than to note that other IFQ programs have been enacted. Congress affirmatively required consideration of auctions, and failure to seek payment for giving away this natural resource should not be allowed.

Historically, there has been little overfishing in the for-hire sector, and certainly not recently. Nor has there been a " race to fish" or derby-style fishing in the for-hire sector, or concern for overcapitalization or problems with need for more stability in the industry. The for­ hire seasons have been far longer than the private angling seasons. There is no need for additional sector-separation within the recreational sector. Given the constitutional, statutory, economic, social, and fairness problems with Amendments 41 and 42, I urge the Committee and the Council to reject both.

Jeff Landry, Attorney General, State of Louisiana
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Capt Ed Livelylivelyonefishing@aol.comCharter/Headboat For-Hiretable am 41 and 42 til stock assessment is complete
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Form Responses 1