Anglers applaud resolution against fish grab scheme
South Carolina legislators champion measure opposing catch shares in federal fisheries
South Carolina legislators are taking a stand against a controversial measure that the federal government is using to privatize public marine resources in the South Atlantic. Known as catch shares, the privatization scheme has drawn the ire of recreational anglers in the region recently after it became known that two appointed members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council are launching an effort to gain private ownership of the fish they are supposed to be managing.
Nationwide, alarm at the federal government’s policy of handing public marine resources to commercial harvesters reached new levels after a news station in New Orleans ran a five-part investigative series highlighting the inequities of the program (Hooked Up, Fox8 News).
“Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is opposed to the concept of catch shares, particularly in mixed-use fisheries in which there is both recreational and commercial participation,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of the South Carolina chapter of CCA. “Catch shares have created tremendous user conflicts in fisheries pursued by both recreational and commercial fishermen. Limiting access and discouraging recreational use of public marine resources should never be goals of federal fisheries management, and that is the inevitable outcome of catch shares. We applaud the resolution and will work to encourage its passage by our elected officials.”
Reps. Hewitt, Jordan, Clemmons, Yow, Kirby, Lowe, and Hixon introduced the resolution this week, which lists a host of reasons for their effort, including the fact that, “fishery stakeholders in South Carolina and the South Atlantic are overwhelmingly opposed to catch share programs in federal waters as evidenced by ninety-seven percent of the comments on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s long-range snapper-grouper fishery management plan being opposed to any form of catch shares.” To view the complete resolution, click here.
“We truly appreciate these efforts by our local elected officials because, though public opposition to these privatization polices has been overwhelming and vocal, the federal management system has routinely ignored our objections,” said Whitaker. “There is a tremendous disconnect between what the people want and what NOAA Fisheries is doing, and we are grateful that our state is taking a stand on behalf of its citizens.”