It’s not just commercial fishermen who will feel the pain. For the first time, recreational anglers will have to sacrifice.
NOAA’s Fisheries Economic report from 2013 shows a 7 percent increase in sales revenues from commercial and recreational saltwater fishing to $199 billion.
But let’s remember that, thanks to new NOAA mandates, the recreational fishing sector is facing dire new catch cutbacks this year. Let’s not forget that these revenue figures do not account for fishermen’s increased costs, from fuel to insurance to permits and catch charges that project what NOAA presumes fishermen’s bycatch should be — regardless of what it is. And note that the same report shows the catch and revenue is being reeled in by fewer boats — meaning, just as NOAA’s catch share plan foresaw — the larger and better capitalized boats and corporations are gobbling up the traditional catch usually hauled in by smaller, independent boats.
Simply put, the federal aid headed our way — someday — will not be nearly enough to brighten the present or future for the fishing industry. What fishermen need are profound changes to the Magnuson Stevens Act, which NOAA has consistently interpreted in a way that continues to pound fishermen and fishing communities alike.
It is in that vein that we and our state and federal lawmakers must begin the new fishing year with a new resolve as well: to push for the kind of basic, legislative changes to Magnuson-Stevens that this industry needs.
Let the new year — and a new commitment to fisheries reform — begin.