April 13, 2020

GAO Releases Report on Fisheries Allocations

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released the first of several reports related to better management of the recreational sector of marine fisheries as directed by Congress in the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018. The GAO, specifically, was tasked with reviewing mixed-use fisheries allocations in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions.

The report examines: 1) the extent to which the councils have established or revised mixed-use fisheries allocations; 2) key sources of information that may be available to help NMFS and the councils conduct allocation reviews; and 3) the extent to which the councils have developed processes to help guide their allocation review. The GAO ultimately concludes that NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should work with the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico councils, and other councils as appropriate, to develop documented processes for conducting allocation reviews, as well as specify how the councils will document their allocation reviews.

Unfortunately, the report does not offer much in the way of suggested guidelines for what a documented allocation process should look like, which is what the recreational fishing community and the councils were hoping would be included in the report. The report did acknowledge both economic and social information for the recreational sector are very limited when reviewing key sources of information that could be included in an allocation process.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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