Coastal Conservation Association Director Ted Venker’s guest column of Aug. 1 (“Sector separation is a fishy scheme”) is simply CCA’s negative, biased opinion about the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service plan to make all sectors accountable, using catch shares and dividing the recreational sector in two separate sectors.

Venker’s statement that the recreational management by National Marine Fisheries Service is a disaster is right on. And it is so because that sector is so large, consisting of hundreds of thousands of fishermen all over the Gulf Coast.

Catch shares are already in place, with commercial and recreational sectors splitting the shares, or total allowable catch, of the red snapper fishery in half.

The relatively small commercial sector has been forced to become accountable, using historical landings from their logbooks. Each permitted vessel has an annual allocation and must stop fishing when it is reached.

The for-hire recreational sector wants to break away from the private boat owners, become accountable and run their businesses profitably.

Venker notes that many commercial boats went out of business when catch shares using individual fishing quotas were implemented and the same will happen to the for-hire fleet.

That might be true. Like the commercial sector, the for-hire boats that are illegal weekend warriors do not have permits, do not pay federal and county taxes, under report or do not report every trip will not stay in business.

There is a meeting being held by the Gulf Council asking for input from snapper fishermen about sector separation.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. today at the Hilton Hotel, 5400 Seawall, in Galveston.

Anyone who fishes from charter boats or party boats should attend and urge the council to proceed with sector separation.

Bill Cochrane is owner of owner of Good News! Fishing Charters in Galveston.

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