Written by Tom Hilton for Making Waves

To understand the motives behind Sector Separation, you must first understand who is pushing it, and why.  Do a little research on The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from foundations such as the Walton Foundation (founders of Walmart) and individuals to “save” us from ourselves.

EDF was instrumental in getting “Cap and Trade” implemented for the carbon emissions industries a few years back – from Wikipedia;

“Emissions trading or cap and trade is a government-mandated, market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. Various countries, states and groups of companies have adopted such trading systems, notably for mitigating climate change.

A central authority (usually a governmental body) allocates or sells a limited number of permits to discharge specific quantities of a specific pollutant per time period. Polluters are required to hold permits in amount equal to their emissions. Polluters that want to increase their emissions must buy permits from others willing to sell them. Financial derivatives of permits can also be traded on secondary markets.

In theory, polluters who can reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the emission reduction at the lowest cost to society.  Cap and trade is meant to provide the private sector with the flexibility required to reduce emissions while stimulating technological innovation and economic growth.”

In reality however, Cap and Trade is stumbling badly and facing an increasingly hazy future in the California Legislature.


There is only ONE reason for Sector Separation – it is a prerequisite for implementing EDF’s version of Cap and Trade for our recreational fisheries; Catch Shares. Catch Shares are a market based approach to achieve reductions in fish landed in our nation’s fisheries. The federal government allocates a limited number of shares to a select few corporations to catch a specific percentage of the Total Allowable Catch each year.  Catch Shares were introduced into the Gulf commercial red snapper fisheries in 2007 when EDF was successful in getting their Cap and Trade agenda put into law via the 2006 Reauthorization of Magnuson. Back then, the federal government GAVE ownership rights (for free) to 51% of our Gulf red snapper to a select few, well-connected commercial fishing corporations via Catch Shares/IFQs. In any other industry that profits from the harvest of our Public Trust Resources (grazing or mining on federal lnads, oil leases, bandwidth, etc.) They are required to pay the nation a royalty – that is, EXCEPT in the Gulf of Mexico Catch Shares scam. These shares today are worth somewhere around $300 million, and many of the share owners don’t even go fishing anymore – they lease their shares to modern day “sharecroppers” for the going rate of $3.00 to $3.25/pound.

In 2009, EDF released their Progress Report” where they laid out the Plan; they procured “key positions” on the Gulf Council where they could get IFQs for the Gulf headboats and charter boats AND fish tags for everyone else. They are well on their way to completing that Plan.

The Gulf Council voted in favor of Amendment 40 (Sector Separation) in October 2014 based on a 3 year sunset – it would expire after 3 years. Of course, everyone knew that was just an excuse to get the camel’s nose under the tent, and as we saw at the last Gulf Council meeting, they have voted to extend the sunset another 5 years. Lying and deception going on at the NMFS and Gulf Council level to implement EDF’s Plan? You bet.

Sector Separation was approved without any details of what it would entail – the Gulf Council later did a “study” to ascertain how they should split the fish among the newly formed sectors.  Guess what? They decided to go back 30 years to get the “data” to justify the overly generous allocation given to the headboat and charter boat sectors. This allocation equals about 43% of the recreational quota even though data from recent years show that the for-hire boats have only account for about ½ that amount. Where did these extra fish come from? Stolen from the third sector – the private recreational fishermen, as evidenced by our 9 day season this year compared to the 45 day season for the for-hire vessels. Hopefully, the lawsuit by the FRA against AM 40 is still ongoing and will hopefully correct this tragedy.

Proponents of Sector Separation point to the fish landed in state water seasons, which are longer than the federal seasons, justifies their longer federal season for their clients. The problem with their argument is that their clients have the ability to fish the state water seasons like everyone else. The owners of the federal permits are not the fishermen catching the fish – they are simply providing the means to access the fish, much like a taxi driver takes a customer to their desired destination. To put it in perspective via the analogy, the federal fisheries managers feel that it is proper to give the taxi drivers exclusive access to the public roads while everyone else who owns their own car are prohibited from driving on those same roads for 98% of the year (our 9 day season this year). If you want access, you are forced to pay the taxi driver to get you there. The days of us going out, catching a fish and putting that fish in the cooler for “free” are coming to an end if these Socialists get their way.  You are going to have to pay someone, most likely the current catch share owners, or Walmart to purchase a fish tag.

Speaking of fish tags, the Gulf Council did a recent study with about 17 headboats, giving them their own allotment of fish tags. Some headboats would charge their customers their usual fee, with the added bonus of offering the opportunity to catch (and keep) 1 red snapper during the trip – IF they paid $25 for the fish tag. What a deal. Not.  Recently, many of the pro-sector separation EDF shills have been clamoring for the formation of a private rec advisory panel. Does anyone else not see the irony and hypocrisy of their actions? What aprt of Sector SEPARATION do they not get? They won. They got their own sectors, SEPARATE from the private recs.  Why then, do they feel they have the right to stick their noses into OUR sector’s business? Oh yeah, because they know that the final piece of the Plan has yet to be implemented; Fish Tags.  Of course, the predetermined outcome of this AP will be the suggestion to the Gulf Council to implement fish tags for the private recs. Nevermind that the NMFS/Gulf Council have absolutely no idea how many fishermen fish for red snapper or how many times a year they go fishing for red snapper.

So, they will issue a predetermined number of fish tags that have absolutely no relation to reality, but will achieve the ultimate goal of Cap and Trade for our fisheries; reduction of the number of fish landed by private recreational fishermen, conversion of our fish into private commodities for the benefit of corporations, and closure of access to our fish for future generations.