Sunday, January 22, 2006

Offshore Fishing IFQ

The federal government has horribly mismanaged the offshore fishing near South Padre Island, Texas. The regional headquarters of the NOAA fisheries office is in Florida, which is nothing like the western Gulf near our neck of the woods. The only new idea the NMFS has had is for an 'individual fishing quota' or IFQ that would eliminate fishing derbies and allow a better management of the species, like red snapper.

But you know how computers work and I did some Google and found that there were 'community development quotas' (CDQ) in addition. My mind started thinking that if something like that could be organized and run locally, the entire lower coast from below Corupus Christi to the border could be managed by, heck why not, real local fishermen.

I know, the CDQ idea was meant for Indian fishing tribes, moreso on the Pacific coast. Heck, some of the indians on the CDQ still get to catch a few whales every year (not that we'd even want one). But the fishery laws and regulations allow for a CDQ without having to be a tribe.

So why not take over a good part of the Gulf, maybe out to the 100-fathom curve? Why not work with the State of Texas to coordinate federal quotas with in-state ones? If you think about it, the amount of coastline and acreage is similar to many entire states on the East Coast.

I guarantee it would work because if the area was over-fished, none of the mousquito fleet (as we call them down here) would be making any money. So it would be in their (and our) best interests to conserve hook and line fishing and market it when it is needed, not when the government says it is mandated or prohibited.

In an interesting twist, I would encourage government auditors and biologists to help make the thing work. Transparency would be essential. Simply stated, we need to stand up for our rights or the government and transient boats from Florida are going to eat our lunch - literally. I feel like the President today: bring 'em on.

OK, not that far but you get the idea.

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