EDF raises stakes in catch share lawsuit
Environmental Defense Fund intervenes to thwart CCA catch share lawsuit
FORT MYERS, FL – Seeking to defend a controversial catch share program for Gulf grouper, the Environmental Defense Fund has been allowed to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Coastal Conservation Association in federal district court that challenges the adoption and implementation of Amendment 29 to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Management Plan.
“This was not wholly unexpected. After all, EDF has made a considerable investment in its efforts to enact catch share programs in fisheries throughout America so this lawsuit is clearly a threat to their program,” said Chester Brewer, chairman of the CCA National Government Relations Committee. “The intervention of EDF simply clarifies what is at stake for recreational fishermen, not just in the Gulf of Mexico, but everywhere in the country.”
Amendment 29 gives away a majority share of Gulf grouper to the commercial fishing industry through a catch share program that has been heavily promoted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). CCA filed the lawsuit in September of 2009 seeking to overturn the catch share program and force the federal government to consider the impacts of such action on other participants in the fishery.
Catch share systems bestow a percentage of a public fishery resource to a select group of commercial fishermen to harvest for their own personal gain. The commercial entities pay nothing back to the public for the permanent property right to harvest a public resource, but catch share systems are nonetheless being emphasized in federal fisheries as a way to reduce overcapacity and improve economic efficiency in the commercial sector. CCA has contended that in fisheries where there is a large and growing recreational sector, exclusive fishing rights proposals maximize benefits to the commercial fishing industry while ignoring the participation and beneficial economic impacts of recreational fishing.
“As we have seen with the red snapper catch share program, the stakes for recreational anglers are very high in this lawsuit. It continues to surprise me the extent to which the environmental community seems willing to go to keep commercial fishing operations in business at all costs,” said Brewer. “Giving away permanent harvesting rights to the commercial fishing industry through catch share programs is a threat to the future of recreational angling and we are completely committed to seeing this lawsuit through to a successful conclusion. Anglers have too much to lose.