Went to the meeting and had to double check the agenda since about 95% of the people there were charter/headboat/commercial/EDF folks - this was billed as the RECREATIONAL AM 50 MEETING. I was glad that at least they understood that the fishermen fishing on their for-hire boats are indeed RECREATIONAL FISHERMEN though.
Four people (including myself) stood up and spoke for the private recs - the rest were there just to pack the meeting with the same rhetoric regarding how AM 50 is great for the private recs but not for the recreational fishermen on their boats.
It defies all logic, since staying with the federal management cost them almost 2 weeks' worth of paying trips this last summer and will cost them even more days this summer. For some odd reason, they want to be managed the same as Florida/Alabama for-hire boats, even though there are substantial differences in biomass, ecosystems, and angling effort - it means shortchanging their Texas charter customers a substantial number of fishing days each year. Many of these same captains also offer guided hunts - what they want is like managing Texas deer seasons based on what Alabama deer populations and hunting effort is doing - it's ludicrous, and they know it.
It's obviously not in their customers' best interest to stay under federal management, but then again, this is really not about what is best for the recreational fishermen fishing on the for-hire boats. It's about staying the course towards privatization of our Public Trust Resources via Catch Shares - that was the ONLY reason for Sector Separation in the first place you know, and it won't stop at red snapper. AM 40 has already been expanded to include Triggerfish, Amberjack, Red Grouper, and Gag Grouper, and will not stop until they are gifted % quota for every single species of fish managed by the Gulf Council. And that % of quota of all those species will total up to a gigantic windfall in $$ - assets that they own taken from the American Public for their exclusive access and benefit.
Alternative 4 I believe is a good compromise - it would allow TPWD to manage all recreational fishermen (both private recs and those who fish on for-hire boats) while still maintaining separation inside the Texas allocation; the private recs would have their quota and the for-hire would have their own quota. I support this notion - a recreational fisherman is a recreational fisherman regardless on what platform he is standing, and if they are looking to allow states to manage their fisheries, let them manage their fisheries, not just parts of it.
Many of the charter guys got up and said they were in a limited entry program while private recs were uncontrolled and had a 365 day state water season (same ol' sh**). Of course, they ignored the fact that since the private recs and for-hire would be fishing under different quotas, it blows that argument out of the water. They are hell-bent on being gifted ownership of our fish, and they know that if TPWD is managing the fishery, that will never happen.
They also ignored the fact that Texas for-hire boats have been subsidizing the eastern Gulf for-hire boats for many years now - they would be much better off if managed based on available biomass off of Texas relative to fishing effort. For example, Florida recreational anglers got a 40 days season in 2018 while Texas private recs got 82 days - the same scenario would hold true for Texas for-hire boats but they have $$$ signs in their eyes on the riches promised to come with Catch Shares. This year we are probably looking at 90-95 days!
They also ignored the fact that Texas has about 42% of the red snapper and only about 15% of the effort - we should ALL (private rec and for-hire) be fishing at least 6 months each year.
Scott Hickman praised the Mississippi Tails and Scales program and suggested Texas adopt a similar program - I agreed, since Tails and Scales is an exact clone of my OFS Permit Plan that I submitted to the Gulf Council 8-1/2 years ago in Tampa. Imagine where we would be today, data wise, if they had actually listened to common sense instead of blindly trudging down the EDF road towards Catch Shares at all costs.
One really outstanding thing I saw was that the Gulf Council is looking to include biomass in their calculations for the first time. This is crucial to any viable fisheries management action, and for some reason has been missing in action for many years now. I want all anglers from all 5 Gulf states to fish to the maximum allowed based on what their ecosystems, biomass, and fishing effort can sustainably allow.
Another good thing I saw was the "state specific overage and underage adjustment" - in the past, if we went over our quota they were real quick to deduct that overage from the next year's poundage but would never give credit for any underfishing. That is changing - if we underfish our quota, they can add it onto next year's quota, which is a good thing.
Y'all need to submit comments to the Gulf Council in support of AM 50, or we face the very real possibility of going to being managed by Roy Crabtree and his numbers boy.
Go here to submit comments; https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...rm?usp=sf_link