Amendment 40 to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation ct is set to take effect June 1, 2015. This is the legislation which provides for Sector Separation in the recreational fishery for snapper. No longer will the total snapper quota be divided between recreational and commercial fishermen, now a further division will be made between recreational fishermen on private boats versus those who fish aboard Federally licensed for-hire (charter) boats. Those in the for-hire sector who supported this expect their sector to get a “larger piece of the pie”, and it looks like they will initially be correct. The “seasons” for each sector are expected to be announced tomorrow – May 1, 2015 – and my sources tell me the private boat anglers will get 10 days, beginning June 1. The season for Federally permitted charter boats will also begin June 1, but will last for 44 days.
For those who might question the logic of such a move, be aware that most of the leading Environmental and Conservation groups – those who always seem to be against ANY fishing – are in support of it, even though it seems at first glance to be contrary to the purposes.
The CCA has, I think, already filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop Amendment 40 from being implemented, and at lest one group is poised to file a suit of their own in support of Amendment 40. State licensed fir-hire boats without a Federal Reef Fish Permit will be limited to fishing the shorter private boat season.
For many years the goal of NMFS has seemed to be to get all fishermen warring against each other – and with this measure they may finally succeed.