If there’s one thing our Independence Day tells us it’s that we’re known more by our deeds than our words.
Surely there were lots of words spoken in the Continental Congress in 1776, but when our founding fathers put their names on our Declaration of Independence, words turned into deeds.
Fast forward to 2014, and the same cannot be said for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
While some among this 17-member group talk about how they want to include recreational fishermen in the discussion of the overall management of fish in waters off the five Gulf states, all recreational fishermen seem to be getting are words — not action, not deeds.
There are five recreational fishing representatives among those 17, one from each of the five Gulf states. Florida has two other seats, and the other four states have one each. Five council members represent each state’s fish and wildlife state agencies, then there’s Roy Crabtree, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s regional administrator.
At most, recreational fishing interests can count on no more than 7-8 votes among the 17 to settle any issue.
That said, the latest move coming from the GMFMC’s late-June meeting was to send recreational anglers to the back of the bus.
A now one-year proposal to add additional red snapper to the annual recreational take was put on the back burner while the council wrangles with something called “sector separation.”
It’s another GMFMC term for further dividing the annual recreational catch allowance into “private” and “for-hire” — charterboat operators — sectors. It’s here the council continues to insist that the “for-hire” folks take a share of the annual recreational quota.
The council also voted to delay action on adding a 75 percent share to the annual recreational red snapper take when the council-approved total annual allowable red snapper catch exceeds 9.12 million pounds — the total this year is 11 million pounds — until it can determine how to yield to an incessant cry for help from the “for-hire” folks.
So the council came up with “action” items for “sector separation,” among which was one that would “allocate the recreational red snapper quota based on average landings between 1996 and 2012. Resulting federal for-hire and private angling allocations would be 47.1 percent and 52.9 percent, respectively.”
Use the current breakdown that gives recreationals a 49 percent share of 11 million pounds (5.39 million pounds), throw in a mandated 20 percent “buffer,” and the allowed recreational take is reduced to 4.312 million pounds, then take 52.9 percent of that and private recreational fishermen will have a 2.38 million-pound allowance.
After a nine-day season this year based on 4.312 million pounds, what does a 2.38 million pounds season give us next year?
Lots of talk, but no action.