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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

  • 05 Jan 2016 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 5, 2016

    MEDIA CONTACT: Executive Director, Capt. Shane Cantrell, 512.639.9188

     Statement by the Charter Fishermen’s Association, Executive Director, Capt. Shane Cantrell on the federal court ruling to uphold separate red snapper catch limits for charter fishermen and private anglers:

    “This decision is a major win for hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers who love to fish for red snapper but aren’t fortunate enough to own their own boat.

    Sector separation is an important step in ending the downward spiral of shrinking fishing seasons that have limited fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen and strangled small charter fishing businesses for too long.

    “The Charter Fisherman’s Association looks forward to working with federal regulators to design a management plan that expands access to Gulf red snapper, improves data collection and ensures that the fishery continues to make progress on the road to recovery.”

    Statement by the Charter Fishermen’s Association, President, Capt. Mike Jennings on the federal court ruling to uphold separate red snapper catch limits for charter fishermen and private anglers:

    "I am pleased at the decision by Judge Milazzo and we are looking forward to now being able to focus on a sustainable fishery management plan for all recreational fishermen."


    The Charter Fishermen’s Association is trade association of charter and head boat fishermen who operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The for-hire fishing sector provides access to millions of recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico every year.


  • 19 Jul 2015 2:13 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 16, 2015

    MEDIA CONTACT: Executive Director Capt. Shane Cantrell, 512.639.9188

    Rep. Garret Graves has filed a bill to have the Gulf States take all three sectors of the Red Snapper fishery out of the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Act. He authored two amendments to this effect earlier this year that were soundly rejected by his colleagues. As the Gulf state fisheries directors have repeatedly voted against the for-hire sector and the millions of Americans who fish on their boats each year, the CFA is adamantly opposed to this effort.

    “Charter fishermen across the Gulf of Mexico continue to be opposed to this effort to have the states take over the entire red snapper fishery. Regional management might be a viable solution for the broken private recreational sector, but federally permitted charter boats and the commercial sector operate in federal waters in a multi-species environment and need and want to be left under federal management,” said Captain Shane Cantrell from Galveston, Texas.

    “It is a waste of time and tax-payer dollars to create a duplicative process in order to manage one fish in a multi-species, multi-user group fishery. Each state’s fishery agency already has a seat on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the remaining seats are nominated by those 5 state governors. It is clear that ‘state control’ is just a red herring for putting us and commercial fishermen out of business.” said Captain Randy Boggs of Orange Beach, Alabama.

    “This is a divisive distraction from achieving real solutions in the fishery. These short derby seasons are punitive and we need to find solutions for private anglers, but we have to do it without hurting the charter and commercial fishermen who provide the other 95% of Americans who don’t own their own boat with access to the fishery,” said Captain Billy Archer of Panama City, Florida.


    The Charter Fishermen’s Association is trade association of charter and head boat fishermen who operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The for-hire fishing sector provides access to millions of recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico every year.

  • 13 Apr 2015 10:11 PM | Anonymous

    (Galveston, TX) – Today the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved the creation of separate catch limits for red snapper for Gulf of Mexico charter fishermen and private anglers. These two sectors were previously lumped together in a one-size-fits-all management plan that doesn’t actually fit anyone. This decision represents final approval of ‘Amendment 40’ as passed by a 10-7 vote at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council last October. The Charter Fishermen’s Association (CFA), which represents hundreds of federally permitted charter captains across the Gulf, lauded the Secretary’s decision as a critical step toward stopping the downward spiral of failed management in the recreational sector of the red snapper fishery.

    “It is not an understatement to say that Secretary Pritzker’s decision today will help save our businesses and make sure that hundreds of thousands of non-boat owning Americans will not lose their access to the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery,” said Capt. Mike Jennings who owns Cowboy Charters in Freeport, Texas and is the President of CFA.

    “We were getting crushed by shrinking seasons and failed management in the recreational sector. We want to be held accountable for staying within a set limit of fish but we need the flexibility to go out on the water when it makes sense for our customers. Having a separate allocation allows us to develop a management plan that works for our industry and keeps Americans fishing,” said Susan Boggs of Reel Surprise Charters in Orange Beach Alabama.

    “This is a critical step toward ensuring that all Gulf red snapper anglers get the added flexibility they need and increased access they deserve. Our industry is united in working together quickly to develop a plan for our new sector that holds us accountable so this iconic fishery can continue to rebuild,” said Capt. Gary Jarvis of Destin, Florida.

    “Louisiana is a sportsman’s paradise but not all sportsmen can afford expensive boats that go 30 miles offshore. Those who aren’t lucky enough to own a boat get their access to the fishery through charter fishing boats and local seafood markets. Today’s approval of a separate charter sector protects their ability to keep fishing and will help us captains continue to support our families doing what we love,” said Capt. Steve Tomeny of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

    The final rule on this amendment should be published in the Federal Register in time to implement the separate catch limits by June 1, 2015. With a separate sector approved in the red snapper fishery in the Gulf, the next steps are for charter captains to work together to develop a sustainable charter management plan that can win a majority of support by the members of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.


    The Charter Fishermen’s Association is trade association of charter and head boat fishermen who operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The for-hire fishing sector provides access to millions of recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico every year

  • 30 Aug 2012 8:53 AM | Deleted user
    Testimony Submitted to the
    Natural Resources Committee
    of the
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Capt. Mike Jennings, For‐Hire Recreational Fisherman and
    Owner of Cowboy Charters, Freeport, TX
    President, Charter Fishermen's Association
    August 25, 2012
       My name is Captain Mike Jennings and I am the President of the Charter Fishermen's
    Association, representing Charter Captains and Private Recreational Members throughout the
    Gulf States. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today in support of achieving sustainable
    and accountable fisheries in a way that will increase all user groups’ access to our nation’s
    natural resources. The most effective way to reach these goals is to ensure that
    congressionally‐created Regional Fishery Management Councils have the flexibility to explore
    all management options available. Restrictions from Washington, D.C. on what management
    options we can and cannot try could devastate our industry.
       I have been a licensed charter boat captain fishing the Gulf of Mexico off Texas for over 25
    years. I grew up fishing Texas’s inshore and offshore waters and I am proud to make a living by
    taking my clients fishing and giving them access to the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact,
    the for‐hire industry in the Gulf of Mexico provides access to millions of fishermen every year
    who cannot afford their own boats, live far away or who want to fish with an experienced
    captain. This year my boats took more than 1500 people out to fish in the Gulf. Our customers
    come from all over the country and are a large part of the economic machine that supports
    thousands of small businesses like mine and is a primary driver of our coastal communities.
    Several species of fish that are critical to the recreational fishing industry in the Gulf have
    suffered from fishing effort in years past that has put a strain on the overall populations and are
    subject to increasingly restrictive management measures. Fishing seasons have gotten shorter
    and bag limits have gotten smaller. These factors make it very difficult for charter boat
    operators like me to stay in business. The service we provide to our clients is access to ocean
    fisheries, but in recent years government regulations have prevented us from providing this
    access. Either the seasons are closed, in which case going fishing is not even an option, or the
    size and bag limits are so restrictive that clients cannot justify the expense of going fishing.
    These increasingly stringent measures are blocking public access to fishery resources, and in the
    process hurting our businesses and local economies.
       We can't go back to the days when unrestricted fishing crashed important stocks, but we can't
    watch our seasons get shorter and shorter while bag limits get smaller and smaller.
    Fortunately, there are solutions that can simultaneously provide increased access to our fishery
    while also providing for the long‐term conservation of those resources. There is flexibility in the
    existing Magnuson‐Stevens Act that can move us towards that increased access as these fish
    stocks rebound. In fact, we believe that it is critically important to maintain the integrity of the
    Magnuson‐Stevens Act (MSA) to enable continued, long‐term access to this valuable resource.
    Congress needs to leave the MSA alone. Rather than amend the MSA Congress should:
      *Ensure there is sufficient funding for fisheries science rather than creating loopholes
      *Allow fisheries managers to use all management tools that might benefit the fishery, and
      *Protect valuable habitat that is now in place in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Legislation was recently introduced that would exempt or limit fisheries from the use of basic
    fisheries management practices, including the setting of annual catch limits (ACLS) and
    extending rebuilding timelines. In 2012 NMFS reviewed more stocks than ever before, including
    numerous stocks in the Gulf of Mexico and we strongly support funding for stock assessments
    and fishery independent surveys. But similar to other regions with a large number of managed
    species, traditional population assessments are not always available to inform the setting of
    ACLs in the Gulf.
       In those cases, management is based on information that can be obtained without complex and
    resource‐intense models, such as fishery catches, species life span and discard mortality just to
    name a few. These are all essential pieces of information needed for population assessments,
    along with other information about the biology and population trends of a species in question.
    It is a myth that a fishery can only be managed with complex population assessments. Good
    management systems are adaptable and are designed to accommodate a range of
       There continues to be a push for fishery managers to sacrifice long‐term sustainability for short
    term gain. There have been numerous legislative attempts to extend rebuilding time frames for
    US fish stocks. In some cases these efforts could extend rebuilding almost indefinitely.
    Currently, the law requires stocks to be rebuilt in ten years but includes sufficient flexibility and
    takes into account the biology of the stocks. In fact, over half of rebuilding plans extend past
    the 10 year time line. Some Pacific Rockfish species have rebuilding timelines that exceed 70
    years. Healthy and rebuilt fish stocks are a critical component of healthy coastal economics. In
    fact, according to NMFS, fully rebuilding US fish stocks would generate $31 billion in revenue
    and create 500,000 new jobs.
       The law offers ample flexibility in determining rebuilding time lines and setting catch limits, but
    we need additional flexibility to try different management approaches. Traditional methods
    simply aren't working. We would like to explore the possibility of alternative management
    approaches on the local level as afforded us by the MSA. We see no reason to limit any option
    provided to the Charter Industry or any other user group that is currently allowed under law.
    Those alternatives may include sector allocations or even Limited Access Privilege Programs,
    (LAPP) if the user group feels this is in their best interest.
    Limited Access Privilege Programs, (LAPP) may not be appropriate for all fisheries and all
    fishermen. For example, we do not believe they should be used to manage private anglers. But
    the Charter Industry should have the option to explore them if they see fit. Under the
    Magnuson‐Stevens Act, the regional fishery management councils now have the option to
    implement a LAPP where the stakeholders in a fishery want such a program. Here in the Gulf of
    Mexico any new LAPP is subject to a fishermen referendum and must be approved by a
    majority of the active participants in the fishery before it can be implemented. No other fishery
    management program requires that level of fishermen input.
       There have been numerous attempts, and some successes, to prohibit our right to work on
    options for our industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Today’s current management system is failing
    our industry and failing the Fisherman who seeks to access it. Alternative Management Systems
    can be useful in some fisheries. For example, the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Commercial ITQ
    program may not be appropriate for others, such as private anglers. Regardless, it is not up to
    Congress to decide what tools fisheries managers and fishermen can and cannot use in their
    fisheries. We need to let fishermen determine what tools work best for them. The Magnuson‐
    Stevens Act was set up in a manner that allows local issues to be managed at the local level.
    Congress should allow that process to take place.
       One of the top priorities for recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico today is maintaining
    the Rigs to Reef program. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas production platforms were
    originally designed and built to provide our nation with energy. 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 removal 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.
       Unfortunately, recent changes to federal policy are causing beneficial habitat to be destroyed
    at a huge cost to our communities and the Gulf ecosystem. The Department of Interior
    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. This has sped up the
    process of removing non‐producing rigs, regardless of their value as fish habitat. As a result,
    much habitat has been lost and continuing to remove more rigs will harm our businesses.
    The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is also expressed concern about the method
    and rate of oil and gas platform removal. The Council has sent a series of letters asking the
    agencies responsible for rig removal to reconsider the use of explosives to remove rigs because
    explosives are known to kill fish dwelling near those structures. The Council also asked that the
    rate of rig removal be slowed or discontinued until more information is gathered regarding the
    effects of Structure removal on the fishery. We strongly support the Council in these efforts.
    Sustainable fisheries provide seafood to America’s dinner plate, public access for sportfishing
    enthusiasts, and long‐term economic health for fishermen, and our coastal communities.
    Congress is pushing to take steps, encouraged by antiquated thinking by a few "leave us alone"
    fishermen of old, who are willing to trade the long‐term sustainability of our coastal
    communities for shortsighted personal and political gain. Current fishing rules hurt anglers,
    fishing businesses, and our nation’s fisheries by severely limiting fishing with short or even
    closed seasons and promoting wasteful discards due to outdated management practices, but
    this is solved by giving fishermen management flexibility and not through rolling back
    conservation provisions and creating management loopholes.
       The CFA sees our role in this fishery as a position of providing more access to the average
    American who just simply has no other avenue or opportunity to fish in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Current management practices are stripping the American public of this access. We also pledge
    to work to meet the mandates set by Congress through the promotion of fishery management
    practices that are beneficial to the American public, the fishery in general as well as the fishing
    industry. Now should be the time when Congress is giving us more tools to manage our
    fisheries, not less. The Charter Fisherman’s Association looks forward to working with Regional
    Councils, Congress and the Administration towards long‐term solutions, including any and all
    options that may increase fishing time, improve businesses, and ensure a sustainable fishery.
    We need all the options at our disposal and we need to allow the user groups to work within
    the guidelines of the MSA at the council level to best manage our fisheries.
  • 23 Aug 2012 11:05 AM | Deleted user
    Gulf Charter Fishermen Challenge Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus
    Small business for-hire operators seek Caucus to substantiate speculative claims that an allocation to preserve public access via their services will negatively impact state fishery funding
    New Orleans, LA, August 22, 2012: The Charter Fisherman's Association (CFA), a group of small business owners across the Gulf of Mexico who provide public access to offshore fisheries to the non-boat owning public, challenged the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus in a recent letter to substantiate speculative claims from a recent Caucus letter that stabilization of their industry through the regional fishery management process has the potential to decrease funding available for state fisheries management.
    Mike Jennings, President of CFA stated "CFA and its members are proud of our contribution history to the $7 billion granted via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Sport Fish Restoration program since its inception. To ignore the diminishing viability of our business is to ignore the significant support we’ve provided states for conservation of habitat as well as recreational opportunities for anglers and boaters." In late July the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus had written a letter to the regional oversight agency in the Gulf of Mexico stating their opposition on the industry’s efforts to preserve non-boating owning public access via their services.
    "Charter fishermen are predominantly small business owners whose business operations rely on significant purchases of fuel and fishing equipment, all of which provide a steady, annual contribution to the budgets of state wildlife agencies via the self-imposed surcharge of the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act" said Jennings. "CFA contends that without stabilization of the industry's viability to provide public access to fisheries, state agencies would lose a cornerstone to their fishery and wildlife funding."
    Charter fishermen and the recreational fishermen who need their services to safely access offshore fisheries have been experiencing reductions in catch limits to rebuild over fished species. While boating owning private fishermen can adapt their recreational experience, charter fishermen are losing the viability to operate a small business and provide the majority of the American people the ability to safely access offshore fisheries.
  • 06 Jul 2012 10:55 AM | Deleted user
    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 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 The Charter Fisherman’s Association
  • 13 Mar 2012 12:24 AM | Michael Jennings


    “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,

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