In response to Charlie Everts’ guest column “Snapper fight about who owns the Gulf, its bounty” (The Daily News, June 30): His first statement is very telling. He says the snapper issue “pits commercial fishermen against recreational fishermen.” That’s true, but the snapper fishery is not set up that way, for this very reason.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, many, many years ago decided that, to be fair, the snapper should be divided equally between the commercials that supply Americans with fresh Gulf seafood, and boat owning recreational anglers. Simply put, the commercials have their fishery, and the recreationals have theirs. Both should mind their own business.

The National Marine Fisheries Service realized that there needed to be accountability on both sides. Since there were only about 100 commercial permits, they decided to stop issuing any more permits. Then they developed a system to manage the commercial fishery called Individual Fishing Quotas. This system tracks every commercial trip, maintains a real-time data system that counts each harvest, and gives law enforcement the ability of meeting each boat that unloads.

Of course, the recreational fishery in the Gulf consists of thousands and thousands of fishermen.

The recreational fishery is managed by daily bag limits and size limits. The federal daily limit is two snapper and minimum size of 16 inches.

As more and more recreational fishermen catch more and more snapper, the season gets shorter and shorter.

There are many issues and problems with the recreational fishery. These issues and problems had nothing to do with the commercial fishery, until organizations like CCA and FRA decided that instead of forming an accountability system, it would be easier to ask the Gulf Council and National Marine Fisheries Service to take snapper from the commercial side and give — gift, as Charlie calls it — to the recreational fishermen.

Thus, we have the Snapper Wars.

Charlie goes on with his famous “One Man Show” about how he thinks the charter-for-hire business is really “commercial” fishermen because they take money to take recreational anglers out fishing. Fact is, the people catching the fish are recreational fishermen, catching recreational fish, and these snapper are deducted from the recreational quota. The charter guys are simply driving the vehicle.

Charlie boohoos about having only nine days to fish for snapper. Really?

The state of Texas allows you to go out and catch — not two, but four snappers a day, 365 days a year. And commercials can’t fish in state waters — ever. Zero days.

Then comes the “Public Resource” argument. I agree. I also subscribe to the fact that all of the public should be able to enjoy the “public resource,” not just the boat owning public. The Federal fisheries are just that. Federal, meaning all Americans have the right to enjoy the “bounty” of the Gulf.

Charlie, you go ahead, and take your boat out every day and catch your four snappers. The commercial side will supply the American public with their share.

Bill Cochrane lives in Galveston


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