Fishermen Have Doubts About New Snapper-Catching Plan

Mobile, AL – Some commercial fishermen say they're concerned about a new management plan for catching red snapper. Fishermen who operate small vessels in the Gulf of Mexico say the plan will give too much control to seafood corporations and large fishing vessels. John Thompson is head of the Delta Commercial Fisheries Association. He says the plan for individual fishing quotas should be eliminated. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is holding meetings across the Coast to discuss getting rid of the present mini-seasons, or derbies, where fishermen compete to catch red snapper. Derbies were put in place to try to save the snapper, which has been over-fished since the late 19-80s. The new system is a rights-based approach where fishermen are granted a share of the fish harvest. They'd also be allowed to catch it at any time during the year. Under the proposed system, fishermen could sell their shares of the catch. Thompson says that could lead to consolidation in the fishery.