State control of red snapper nothing more than a race to the bottom

Seafood Harvesters of America, Executive Director Brett Veerhusen issued the following statement today in response to introduction of the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act: The Seafood Harvesters of America vehemently oppose this bill. Their proposal for state control of red snapper would hurt small commercial fishing businesses and restaurants throughout the Gulf who locally source delicious, sustainable American seafood to millions of restaurant patrons. Representative Graves’ bill would effectively undo the successes of America’s law governing our federal fisheries – the Magnuson-Stevens Act – a landmark piece of legislation Americans should be proud of.

The benefits of this bill, none. The repercussions of this bill, many. This bill would threaten the availability of red snapper to local fishermen and restaurants across the country, which will most likely result in even more unsustainable overfishing by private anglers. It would also set a dangerous precedent of giving states the right to undermine federal fishery management requirements when private anglers do not agree with those requirements and putting in place a system where states would have little incentive to be stricter than their neighbor – creating a “race to the bottom” effect. Moreover, Graves’ bill would allow recreational fishermen to simply opt out of fishing rules set by the federal government, with impunity. Commercially, red snapper is caught predominantly by small, family-owned fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico.

Without these fishermen, red snapper would not be available in your local grocery’s fish case or on your favorite menu. It is clear that Rep. Graves bill is intended to drive hardworking fishermen out of business and keep delicious domestic red snapper off the plates of American diners and consumers. This spring, he attempted to amend a bill with identical language, which failed. Now, he’s going at it again. Try as he may, Rep. Graves’ form of “venue-shopping,” in dissent with current Federal management of fisheries, can result in grave implications nationwide. We strongly urge all members of Congress to stand with the hardworking men and women that are Commercial Fishermen and send this bill to the bottom of the Gulf. Seafood Harvesters of America (“The Harvesters”), an umbrella association representing 16 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico north to New England. For more information, please visit seafoodharvesters.org.

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