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A Vision For Our Fishery
#1
My vision for our snapper/grouper fishery starts with properly managing quotas for each species using appropriate possession limits and/or bycatch allowances to avoid extended closures and excessive discards. We should try to make regulatory discards rare while taking steps to help released fish survive by using tools like dehookers to avoid handling them more than necessary and descending devices to ensure bloated fish swim home. The next step should be to focus on enhancing our fisheries and food supply by stocking native seafood and creating more artificial reef habitat. Hatcheries and habitat enhancements can sustainably create more seafood and recreational opportunity in an environmentally friendly way. Wise use of these proven management tools would be the perfect blend of open-water aquaculture and wild-caught seafood that lives free and self-sufficient until harvested. We can make our fishery a successful and sustainable model that other fishermen and fishery managers around the globe will want to follow.   

I will go into greater detail about how we can achieve these goals and touch on other fishery related issues in future posts.
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#2
This post will focus on how we can manage commercial quotas in ways that reduce regulatory discards and help protect spawning aggregations. Some fish with low quotas like Red Snapper should be managed as bycatch fisheries. The council wisely decided to do this when they reopened that fishery in November by setting a 75 pound trip limit. A higher limit could have resulted in localized depletions and early closures. Fish with higher quotas like Vermilion Snapper could be managed in a variety of ways. Split seasons are a good start. The hard part is deciding how to set possession limits that are fair for everyone in a diverse fleet ranging from small and fast day boats to larger and slower boats that stay for days. One option is to set weekly poundage limits starting at 1,000 pounds per week for the first 50% of each seasonal quota and step down to 500 pounds per week until 75% of the quota is landed. The final 25% of each seasonal quota could be managed with a 75 pound bycatch allowance per trip. This would avoid extended closures and should result in returning the 35,000 pounds of Vermilion Snapper quota that is currently allocated to projected post-closure discard mortality every year. Opening dates could begin after spawning seasons so step downs coincide with the next spawn to discourage targeting of breeders during those times. This concept could be applied to other quotas so fishermen can target fish with higher limits without being required to discard co-occurring species we accidentally catch. There are other ways we could manage quotas to avoid extended closures and excessive discards. This forum gives each permit holder a chance to offer their ideas. We could discuss different options until we come up with something most of us can agree on and present our plan to the council. They want to hear our ideas and will listen if we offer solutions that follow Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates. The big question is, how many permit holders will take advantage of this opportunity for self-governance with official oversight?
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#3
Visioning Project: comment
   
   My name is Vincent Bonura. I own and operate a commercial fishing/wholesale business out of South Florida. I have a substantial investment into this business and would like to see nothing more than for it to be sustainable for generations to come.

    I highly oppose Catch Shares/IFQ’s for the future of the Snapper Grouper Fishery due to the fact that it can put a lot of fisherman, fish houses, and fishing communities out of business. Catch Shares/IFQ’s would only be good for a select few stake holders, not the majority of this business.

   There are no positive aspects in going forward with Catch Shares/IFQs. Yes, fisherman and boat owners could allocate how many lbs of fish or product are needed to make a trip successful and profitable, but that does not outweigh the negative impacts this change would cause. Due to the high expenses and cost of operation these days, small trip limits are making it almost impossible for larger vessels that are not very fast to be productive. We travel long distances to get to the fish and have to stay out for multiple days. Larger vessels are safer, more comfortable, and better suited for the task at hand, especially with the new USCG safety regulations going into effect in October of 2015.

    With that said I would like to seek alternatives to Catch Shares/IFQ’s. I put together a few alternatives, ideas, and options that would be beneficial to the SAFMC, fisherman, boat owners, and other land based facilities. These alternatives would not only make trips more profitable, but they would also help eliminate bycatch and discards as well as make it easier to keep track of the ACL’s/Quotas.

Alternative #1 – Permit Stacking

    Allow fisherman/boat owners the option to have multiple Snapper Grouper Permits aboard one vessel in order to have multiple trip limits aboard that vessel.

    There has to be a maximum number of permits per vessel!

Option A.

• Currently 2 for 1 permit = 1 permit (1 trip limit)
• Add a third permit and delete this permit = category 2 permit (2 trip limits)
• Add a fourth permit and delete this permit = category 3 permit (3 trip limits)

    …so on and so forth. Option A would delete permits making a new category of permit while eliminating permits like the 2 for 1 buyout program. To give you a better idea of how the new category of permits could work, just apply the idea of hurricanes category 1, 2, etc., with the “largest” being a category 5.

Option B.

    Allow multiple permits aboard one vessel without deleting them. This alternative would allow the transfer of permits from vessel to vessel as needed.

• Permits can be owned by multiple owners or entities?
• Permits must be owned by the same entity?
• Permits can be in separate corporations or name but must be owned by the same person/ CEO/President?


Alternative #2 - Multi Day Trip Endorsement

    A Multi Day Trip Endorsement would allow vessels on extended trips the availability to retain multiple day/trip limits.

    This would have to be done based on multiple day or extended trip catch history from the log books.

• 3 Day Endorsement?
• 5 Day Endorsement?
• 7 Day Endorsement?

Alternative 3. Weekly Limits

    Smaller, faster vessels can go out every day and catch a trip limit seven days a week. My vessel and many others might take a day to get out and a day to get in and offload. This ends up being three days of work for only one day of fishing. So for an example on Golden Tilefish, I would offload 500 lbs. in 3 days whereas the small fast vessel would offload 1500 lbs. in the same timeframe.

    A weekly limit, whether it was caught in three days or seven days, would level the playing field as well as maximize efficiency for all vessels.


    I have presented to you a multitude of alternatives, options, and ideas. Any and all of these will be economically and financially valuable for all vessels within the Snapper Grouper Fishery by providing each and every vessel the opportunity to catch what is needed for a profitable trip. Thank you for your time in reading this. I truly hope you consider these alternatives to better this fishery and the lives of our fisherman. If you have any questions at all feel free to give me a call.


Tight Lines,

Vincent T. Bonura III
800 SW 12th CT.
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33315
954-240-8615

Differences between the “Traditional Bandit Boat” and “Day Boat”
(Vision Blueprint Commercial)
 
     A huge difference between a “Day Boat” and a “Traditional Bandit Boat” definitely is speed. A Day Boat is fast enough to get to and from the fishing grounds to offload every day. Generally, these boats are open fisherman center console boats or Day Boat style open wheel house commercial boats.
     “Traditional Bandit Boats” are typically slower and could take a half of a day or better to get to the fishing grounds depending how far their destination is. In my opinion, a Traditional Bandit Boat is a larger vessel 35 ft. or better built and designed for multi day trip fishing. These vessels have the fuel capacity and ice/fish hold capacity for long range trips. They also have a bunk/crew quarters as well as other amenities for comfortability for the duration of the trip. Larger USCG documented vessels must go through a more strenuous and mandatory commercial fishing safety examination. These vessels carry an abundancy of first aid and safety equipment such as (Solas A Pack) life raft, Cat 1 EPIRBs, and satellite phones. The “Traditional Bandit Boat” is safer, more comfortable, and better suited for commercial fishing.
     Due to high expenses and cost of operation these days, small trip limits are making it nearly impossible for larger vessels (“Traditional Bandit Boats”) that are not very fast to be productive. We travel long distances to the fish and have to stay out for multiple days.
     We need to come up with alternatives that will be economically and financially valuable for all vessels within the Snapper Grouper Fishery. This can be accomplished by providing each and every vessel the opportunity to catch what is needed for a profitable trip.    
 
Tight Lines,
 
Vincent T. Bonura III
800 SW 12th CT.
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33315
954-240-8615
 
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#4
Great post Vincent! It is easy to say you don't like catch shares, but it takes some effort to come up with alternatives that are fair to everyone and don't privatize our public resources. Permit stacking is a good idea that could work well with appropriate possession limits and/or by-catch allowances. This would allow traditional bandit boats to work more efficiently without hurting day boats. It would greatly reduce regulatory discards while providing consumers with a much more dependable supply of local seafood. It would also provide better data. This is a concept that most fishermen seem to support in private discussions. Hopefully, more permit holders will join the discussion on this forum and publicly support some solutions. Complaining and just saying no will not help our fisheries.

Does the council have a position on permit stacking that allows a vessel to land two or three trip limits during one trip?
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#5
(02-20-2018, 03:55 PM)freefish7 Wrote: Great post Vincent! It is easy to say you don't like catch shares, but it takes some effort to come up with alternatives that are fair to everyone and don't privatize our public resources. Permit stacking is a good idea that could work well with appropriate possession limits and/or by-catch allowances. This would allow traditional bandit boats to work more efficiently without hurting day boats. It would greatly reduce regulatory discards while providing consumers with a much more dependable supply of local seafood. It would also provide better data. This is a concept that most fishermen seem to support in private discussions. Hopefully, more permit holders will join the discussion on this forum and publicly support some solutions. Complaining and just saying no will not help our fisheries.

Does the council have a position on permit stacking that allows a vessel to land two or three trip limits during one trip?

Permit stacking is currently not allowed for federal permits in the South Atlantic. It did come up during the Visioning process but at this time the Council is not pursuing that kind of a management approach.
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