charter fisherman's Association

It is our mission to ensure American public access to fishing, to engage and represent
the Charter for Hire industry, and to ensure long-term sustainability of our fisheries.

CFA Newsroom

  • 06 Jul 2012 10:55 AM | Anonymous
    The Charter Fisherman’s Association helped organize a meeting on June 19, 2012 with the Director of the National Ocean Council Office, Deerin Babb-Brott, to discuss the Rigs to Reefs issue.  CFA invited key stakeholders to participate in this current, high-interest topic.  During the discussion, members from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Saltwater-fisheries Enhancement Association, EcoRigs, the Port Aransas Boatmen, Inc. and the Harte Research Institute joined The Charter Fisherman’s Association and the National Ocean Council Office to share their thoughts, as well as their research and documentation on the Rigs to Reefs program.  It was a great start to begin the communication and cooperation processes.  Many issues were discussed that will be evaluated and looked into for discussion at the next meeting.  We appreciate the National Ocean Council Office bringing many representatives from different areas of the federal government to weigh in on the Rigs to Reefs topic.  The Charter Fisherman’s Association is very excited to have the help of the National Ocean Council Office.  We look forward to working together, as it is imperative to the success of this vital program.
  • 25 May 2012 2:49 PM | Anonymous
    Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas production platforms were originally designed and built to provide our nation with energy. Regulations also were put in place requiring companies to remove all structures soon after energy production ended. However these structures have become critical habitat for many types of marine life and are also a valuable asset for recreational fishing and diving. The federal Rigs to Reefs program successfully allows abatement of hazardous materials while allowing the useful habitat to remain and has been working great for decades. Many businesses and user groups have come to rely on the structures, which have improved our quality of life and ability to enjoy our Gulf of Mexico. Recent changes to federal policy are causing beneficial habitat to be destroyed at a huge cost to our communities and the Gulf ecosystem. We need the federal government to halt this destruction so it can reevaluate the recent policy changes before more damage is done. Much habitat has already been lost and continuing to remove more will harm our businesses, deprive future generations’ access to the resources, and will damage the biodiversity of our Gulf of Mexico. On December 31, 2009 U.S. Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service Gulf of Mexico OCS Region- New Orleans issued the Rigs-to-Reefs Policy Addendum: Enhanced Reviewing and Approval Guidelines in Response to the Post-Hurricane Katrina Regulatory Environment http://www.gomr.boemre.gov/home pg/regulate/environ/rigs-to- reefs/Rigs-to-Reefs-Policy-Addendum.pdf.  Under the addendum structures which would have been allowed to remain in place are being destroyed by an arbitrary requirement to have a five mile buffer between reef sites. The “buffer” itself does nothing to minimize potential impacts to future pipeline operations as stated in the addendum. All this “five mile” rule does is to effectively kill the majority of valuable reefing. All reef sites are already and will continue to be reviewed for impact to future resource extraction, navigation, and other potential user conflicts. Requiring living reefs to be explosively removed and then relocated not only kills all living organisms on and near the structure, but also causes the reefing process to become cost prohibitive. The five mile rule is doing nothing more than killing a useful program without due process involving effected stakeholders. We need the US Department of Interior to remove the five mile rule immediately and allow structures to be reefed in place regardless of their proximity to other reef sites.  The December 31, 2009 addendum also causes unnecessary habitat destruction by only granting Rigs-to-Reef platform- removal applications proposing the structure’s siting within special Reef Permit Areas. We feel the entire Gulf of Mexico is worthy of protection and reefing should not be restricted to special permit areas. Small reef permitting areas are unnecessary since the entire United States is already a permit area. We need the US Department of Interior to allow reefing of all structures in place and to do away with special reefing area requirements.
    To make things worse, the Department of Interior also announced on September 15, 2010 that it would begin enforcing a long- dormant rule requiring rigs to be removed within five years from the time they cease production. The combination of these two orders has sped up the process of removing non-producing rigs, regardless of their value as fish habitat.  Of most immediate concern is to obtain a Secretarial order putting on hold all Gulf of Mexico platform removals until these issues can be resolved and time is allowed for permitting the structures as reef sites. All the Gulf states are strongly in favor of reefing but are being blocked by our federal government. Not only are our state’s hands being tied by an agency of the federal government but this same agency is expediting the destruction by requiring oil and gas companies to aggressively remove the structures. We need our federal representatives to act with urgency and change these policies so our reefs will survive. Without immediate action, the destruction will continue and the opportunity will be lost. Contact: Capt. Michael Miglini, Executive Director mmiglini@charterfisherman.org www.charterfisherman.org The Charter Fisherman’s Association info@charterfisherman.org
  • 13 Mar 2012 12:24 AM | Michael Jennings (Administrator)

     

    “The   Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act authored by Senators John Kerry   (D-Mass) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will make significant progress toward   improving data collection and science in our nation’s fisheries. Too often   fishermen are forced to follow regulations based on bad data or science.  

    This   new law could inject more than $100 million a year into improving stock   assessments and research in fisheries around the country. Moreover, it   requires no new tax or fee. It will reestablish the intent of the   Kennedy-Saltonstall Act passed 58 years ago and direct money collected from   duties paid on fish imports to improved science and research at the National   Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine   Fisheries Service (NMFS).

    The   Charter Fishermen’s Association is proud to support this legislation as a   forward step toward strengthening fishermen’s confidence in the agencies that   regulate our fisheries. We will be contacting lawmakers over the coming weeks   to inform them of our support for this legislation. We call on other concerned   anglers across the Gulf of Mexico and around the country to the same.”  

    Gary Jarvis, President, Charter Fishermen’s Association, gary@charterfisherman.org

  • 29 Feb 2012 8:32 AM | Anonymous

    MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Tons of fisherman and charter boat captain’s spoke their minds at a public forum to discuss possible changes to the 2012 red snapper season.

    NOAA is considering cutting the season short. Last year it was 48 days, now its talking about making it 40.

    Dr. Roy Crabtree with NOAA says last year too many fish were caught and now there us a need to cut back to control the population.

    "Even though the quotas are being increased each year, the catch rates are going up every year and trips tend to go up a little bit, fish are getting bigger and the increases in the quota aren't keeping up with the increased catch rate,” said Crabtree.

    Charter Boat Captain Scott Hickman says it’s not about the time; it’s about the fish.

    One thing he suggests is giving each person a certain number of days they can use whenever they want.


    In this case he wouldn't mind having fewer than 40 days.

    "If we had the flexibility of going to and doing it when we wanted to and we were accountable and they knew we were reporting those fish, we would be able to use it and would benefit our business,” Hickman said.

    The problem is accountability. Hickman said the way data is collected now wouldn't work.


    Hickman and charter boat captain Mike Jennings are part of a Pilot program out of Texas.
    It uses an iPad or iPhone application called "iSnapper."

    Before even leaving the dock the captain enters in what they are fishing for, where they are fishing and how many anglers are on board. Then you fill in the catches.

    "Hit submit trip and as soon as it receives a 3G signal it downloads all of that information to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and they have the information of what I caught real time before my boat even arrives at the dock,” Jennings said.

    Jennings said an app like this would give the captains and officials real time data, about the entire catch as the season progresses.

    NOAA officials said it is looking at ways to better calculate the Red Snapper population. It is hoping for a change by 2013.

    "Many of the council members are very frustrated, we feel like our hands are tied, but because of the way the law is written, we're stuck with this system and patience I guess is the only thing we can hope for,” Crabtree said.

    No final decision will be made until the spring.

    Photojournalist: La-Keya Stinchcomb

    Paige Malone

  • 20 Feb 2012 7:59 AM | Anonymous

    "Fishermen drowning in regulations" and "Managing fisheries is an inexact science" are probably the two understatements of the decade. My plight is exactly the same as all the charter boat/head boat owners in the Gulf of Mexico (from Key West to Brownsville, Texas) that fish for a living.

    Past articles in The Destin Log articulate how we fishermen and the fish are being managed. It also brings home the same shared frustrations of dealing with over-regulation without regard to the "human component" of the resource (i.e. shortened seasons, crushingly low bag limits, high fuel cost and the worst economy since the Great Depression).

    Like other captains, the current regulatory environment has taken my 40-year-old charter fishing business from being a viable year-round profitable operation to being barely a part-time job full of uncertainty. For lack of a better word it appears the whole system of managing fish is "broke" undefined or is it?

    It is hard to find anyone that disputes that the red snapper fishery seems in tip-top shape and is over regulated. The question that many of us would like addressed is can we find a way out of this derby style fishing system that is not sustainable and move toward finding one that is?

    I believe the answer is yes. How do we do this you ask?

    Start by thinking outside the box. Clearly, the old way of doing business is broken and unsustainable. You have a finite resource being pursued by a growing number of people who like to catch fish. So what do we do about it?

    All it would take is giving the fishermen involved the opportunity to explore a separate fishery management plan. It's the choice of giving charter fishermen like me that have a lifetime invested in the fishing industry the ability to decide when and how we want to fish. A “days at sea” program.

    Here is an example using the current bag limits for reef fish and a 48-day season that starts June 1 and ends July 19.

    Under the current system of management, it's a derby mentality. The clock starts at midnight June 1 and you make as many trips as humanly possible until the clock strikes midnight July 19. End of story.

    This is a dangerous way to operate and it promotes overfishing. If you have a catastrophic engine failure or bad weather, even worse get sick yourself, it doesn't matter because it's a derby that we are locked into.

    Now what if we had a say in when we fished? A “days at sea” program would have the same bag limits, and same number of days, just the ability work with our customers and go back to planning a day of fishing.

    We do not have that now. Not even close. Under today’s regulations we aren't even allowed to keep red snapper, gag grouper and amberjack on the same trip.

    It just doesn't make sense does it? A biologist might have to estimate how many fish live in the sea. They should not have to guess at how many fish are in my fish box.

    Every one knows from the top down that the old status quo system of counting fish is outdated, broken and never did measure up from the beginning. That's old news, but the good news is we now have cell phones, laptops and iPads, which are just some of the tools on hand to get real time data to the different government agencies that can use that information to make sound scientific decisions for our futures.

    The better the science is, the better the decisions undefined which is a definitive goal for many of us in the charter fishing industry. If the government insists on counting our fish, we must insist they do it correctly.

    We need to explore every possible option that gives back to each stakeholder a sound science-based viable fishery management plan. A "days at sea" program may not be the perfect solution, but at least it gives us flexibility for our businesses that we don't have now.

    Personally, I would like to bring value back to our fishing business and continue to offer fishing opportunities to the public in a safe and professional manner.

    Capt. Billy Archer

    F/V Seminole Wind

    A 3rd generation fisherman from Panama City

  • 06 Feb 2012 8:58 PM | Michael Jennings (Administrator)

    By.Captain Shane Cantrell , Galveston Texas

    Greetings from Mobile, Alabama at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting. We have had the pleasure this week to work with fishermen and fishery management officials as we continue an effort to improve our nations' fisheries through sustainable management practices developed by all user groups involved. It's been a relatively quiet week, but there are some crucial decisions coming up at the next meeting in Corpus Christi, Texas this April. Among the highlights of the week were an update on the Grey Triggerfish population, moving forward on the proposed Greater Amberjack regulations, and a step towards adding artificial reefs as an Essential Fish Habitat. The update on Grey Triggerfish revealed a concern that the population is declining, and will possibly be closed in the near future. Further exploration should reveal more insight as to why the population is decreasing. There were suggestions made by several fisherman during public testimony that Red Snapper predation may be a source of this decline.

    Possibly the most important of the topics discussed for our industry was with Greater Amberjack. The council entertained possibilities of increasing the size limit and changing the season. After much debate among council members and input during public testimony, the amendment was moved forward and will recieve final action in April. The concern by fishermen as well as some council members is that by raising the size limit and adjusting the season we will be disregarding our current plan after only one year. The largest concern with respect to size limit is that although from a biological standpoint, 34 inches is the best for the stock. The increase in discard mortality to catch fish of that size will be very high while at the same time reaching the total allowable catch faster as larger fish are being targeted. The proposed seasonal closure in March, April, and May does not offer flexibility to any recreational fishermen any prized species to target outside of the expected Red Snapper season. This will drastically cut the number of fishing days of all recreational fisherman and essentially cripple charter guides already hurting from a very short Red Snapper season.

    There is also work being done to attempt to add artificial reefs to the list of essential fish habitats, but this possibility will be further explored in April after reviewing the current language of the EFH definition. The actions taken and items discussed in Mobile this week set the stage for some possibly monumental decisions coming out of the meeting in April with regards to the charter for hire industry and recreational fishermen.

    The biggest and most heated topic will be a scoping document addressing the possable development of a separate fishery management plan for each user group in recreational fisheries, specifically designed for the charter boat industry and another for the private boat fishing sector. This would essentially be giving recreational and charter fishermen the ability to create a flexible, accountable fishery management plan that allows more access to the fishery for the American public. Adding the final action on Greater Amberjack, possibly making artificial reef an essential fish habitat, and the announcement of the federal Red Snapoer season coming in between make for a very packed agenda effecting recreational fishermen across the Gulf of Mexico. For more information about Fishin Addiction Charters and the Charter Fisherman's Association visit www.charterfisherman.org

  • 06 Feb 2012 5:08 AM | Michael Jennings (Administrator)
    Published : Wednesday, 01 Feb 2012, 9:39 PM CST

    MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Tons of fisherman and charter boat captain’s spoke their minds at a public forum to discuss possible changes to the 2012 red snapper season.

    NOAA is considering cutting the season short. Last year it was 48 days, now its talking about making it 40.

    Dr. Roy Crabtree with NOAA says last year too many fish were caught and now there us a need to cut back to control the population.

    "Even though the quotas are being increased each year, the catch rates are going up every year and trips tend to go up a little bit, fish are getting bigger and the increases in the quota aren't keeping up with the increased catch rate,” said Crabtree.

    Charter Boat Captain Scott Hickman says it’s not about the time; it’s about the fish.

    One thing he suggests is giving each person a certain number of days they can use whenever they want.


    In this case he wouldn't mind having fewer than 40 days.

    "If we had the flexibility of going to and doing it when we wanted to and we were accountable and they knew we were reporting those fish, we would be able to use it and would benefit our business,” Hickman said.

    The problem is accountability. Hickman said the way data is collected now wouldn't work.


    Hickman and charter boat captain Mike Jennings are part of a Pilot program out of Texas.
    It uses an iPad or iPhone application called "iSnapper."

    Before even leaving the dock the captain enters in what they are fishing for, where they are fishing and how many anglers are on board. Then you fill in the catches.

    "Hit submit trip and as soon as it receives a 3G signal it downloads all of that information to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and they have the information of what I caught real time before my boat even arrives at the dock,” Jennings said.

    Jennings said an app like this would give the captains and officials real time data, about the entire catch as the season progresses.

    NOAA officials said it is looking at ways to better calculate the Red Snapper population. It is hoping for a change by 2013.

    "Many of the council members are very frustrated, we feel like our hands are tied, but because of the way the law is written, we're stuck with this system and patience I guess is the only thing we can hope for,” Crabtree said

    Here is a link to the actual News video

    http://www.fox10tv.com/dpp/news/local_news/mobile_county/concerns-over-shortened-snapper-season

  • 26 Jan 2012 11:42 PM | Michael Jennings (Administrator)

    By BILLY ARCHER, Panama City Fl.

    “Fishermen drowning in regulations” and “Managing fishery an inexact science” (Jan. 23) are probably the two understatements of the decade.

    My plight is exactly the same as all the charter boat/head boat owners in the Gulf of Mexico (from Key West to Brownsville, Texas) who fish for a living. The articles articulate how fishermen and fish are being managed. It also brings home the same shared frustrations of dealing with overregulation without regard to the “human component” of the resource (i.e., shortened seasons, crushingly low bag limits, high fuel costs and the worst economy since the Great Depression).

    Like the other captains in this article, the current regulatory environment has taken my 40-year-old charter fishing business from being a viable year-round profitable operation to being barely a part-time job full of uncertainty. For lack of a better word, it appears the whole system of managing fish is “broke.” Or is it?

    It is hard to find anyone who disputes that the red snapper fishery seems in tip-top shape and overregulated. The question that many of us would like addressed is, can we find a way out of this derby-style fishing system that is not sustainable and move toward finding one that is? I believe the answer is yes.

    Clearly, the old way of doing business is broken and unsustainable. You have a finite resource being pursued by a growing number of people who like to catch fish. Give the fishermen involved the opportunity to explore a separate fishery management plan. It’s the choice of giving charter fisherman like me the ability to decide when and how we want to fish undefined a “days at sea” program.

    Here is an example using the current bag limits for reef fish and a 48-day-season that starts June 1 and ends July 19. Under the current system of management, it’s a derby mentality. The clock starts at midnight June 1 and you make as many trips as humanly possible until the clock strikes midnight July 19. End of story. This is a dangerous way to operate and it promotes overfishing. If you have a catastrophic engine failure or bad weather, or even worse get sick yourself, it doesn’t matter because it’s a derby that we are locked into.

    What if we had a say in when we fished? How about a flexible alternative to the derby style of fishing? A “days at sea” program would have the same bag limits and same number of days, just the ability work with our customers and go back to planning a day of fishing during the time of their, and our, choosing.

    We do not have that now, not even close. Under today’s regulations we aren’t even allowed to keep red snapper, gag grouper and amberjack on the same trip. The only thing worse than that would be a closure. Most fishermen did not realize how close we came to that. If Florida had kept state waters open to gag grouper fishing in spring 2011, there would have been zero harvest of gag grouper both commercially or recreationally in federal waters anywhere after the state gag season opened in the Gulf. We are now dangerously close to that same scenario for red snapper. I’m sure some folks are thinking that it would be impossible to have grouper, amberjack and red snapper all closed.

    I’m simply stating a fact that rules are being proposed that say when a sector overfishes its allocation, it will have to “payback” by law that amount from the following year’s catch. Here’s how that would work for red snapper.

    Let’s say we get 10 fish for the 2012 red snapper season, but by accident we catch and keep 14. That’s 40 percent over harvest, so in 2013 we have to reduce our catch of red snapper by 40 percent. There is no way around it. If you are fishing for fun that might not be a big deal, but if you are fishing for red snapper as a means to pay your bills, it’s obviously your worst nightmare.

    There are other measures being considered as well, but the bottom line is none of them mean more fishing days for anyone, and all of them are bad for the fishing industry.

    It just doesn’t make sense. A biologist might have to estimate how many fish live in the sea? They should not have to guess how many fish are in my fish box. Everyone knows from the top down that the old status quo system of counting fish is outdated, broken and never did measure up from the beginning. That’s old news.

    The good news is we now have cell phones, laptops and iPads, which are just some of the tools to get real-time data to the different government agencies that can use that information to make sound scientific decisions for our futures. The better the science is, the better the decisions, which is a definitive goal for many of us in the charter fishing industry. If the government insists on counting our fish, we must insist they do it correctly. Then the fishing industry can start enjoying the benefits to these sacrifices that have been made in rebuilding these fish stocks. Yes, it can work.

    I’m not alone with these thoughts. There are hundreds of fishermen, boat owners and the like from every coastal state along the Gulf that want the chance to explore other options so we can avoid closures, not have to worry about payback, and help the science by collecting better data. They want options that will continue to rebuild our fish stocks, ensuring healthy fisheries for generations to come. We need to explore every possible option that gives back to each stakeholder a sound, science-based, viable fishery management plan.

    A “days at sea” program might not be the perfect solution, but at least it gives us flexibility for our businesses that we don’t have now. Personally, I would like to bring value back to our fishing business and continue to offer fishing opportunities to the public in a safe and professional manner.

     

    Billy Archer, a third-generation fisherman, is captain of the Seminole Wind.

     

  • 24 Jan 2012 9:41 AM | Anonymous

    Here is the link to the Gulf Council Meeting Agenda for the January meeting in Mobile, Alabama.

    http://www.gulfcouncil.org/council_meetings/agenda/Council%20Agenda%20-%2001-12.pdf

  • 17 Jan 2012 8:36 AM | Anonymous

    The January Gulf Council Meeting Agenda has been released.

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