Our Right to Fish


I Should Upgrade My Account
Mar 18, 2012
Florida Fisherman
In Florida, as well as the rest of our nation, our 'right to fish' is under attack.
A very interesting viewpoint by Captain Dylan Hubbard...

Firstly, we did and have fought very hard against sector separation at its inception and again when it was up for a vote on it's sunset. My father, Capt Mark Hubbard, was the only party boat captain at the meeting outright speaking against it. However, Sector separation is a thing of the past and was pushed through. Also, the sunset was voted down too. We did radio shows, videos, wrote articles and held informational meetings but couldn't get enough support to stop it. Now its here to stay with the passing of AM 50 or state management of red snapper that removed the sunset on AM 40 (sector separation) and has ratified it. Also, Dr. Crabtree is retiring this year too! Many of these issues are past issues that cannot be overturned without much involvement.

Secondly, little background on me. I now attend every gulf of Mexico fishery management council meeting and I serve on three APs for the council. Also, I am the program principal of a program called the 'marine resource education program' which is called MREP and our region's MREP program is awesome I would highly recommend any and all of you try to look into it and apply its essentially a crash course on how to be effective and factual and conscience at these council meetings and AP meetings and gives you the tools to be effective. Plus, with the networking you receive you can building lasting alliances with fellow stakeholders and scientist and council staff and even NOAA fisheries staff that can serve to help you be more effect. I currently sit on the reef fish AP, Data collection AP and I am the chair of the Outreach and educational technical committee. I am a life member of CCA, NRA and a member of Naco, American sportfishing association and I am the offshore fishing director for the Florida guides association.

finally this year I did join CFA as a board member. I started attending meetings full time back in the summer of 2017 and haven't missed but one council meeting since (due to the birth of my son). Since the start the CFA guys had been after me to join their group but I stayed away and wanted to learn the playing field and the players at my own pace and educate myself before I threw in with any group. Well the big thing that scared me and faced our recreational fishery was catch shares and any sort of allocation based management moving into the recreational sector. I felt strongly and still do feel strongly that the rec fishery is best managed by seasons, size limits and bag limits and I feel no one should have allocation of our recreational fishery. This is what drove me to attend every meeting and stand up against many fellow charter captains (including much of CFA) to fight against AMs 41 and 42 which would have brought allocation based management to our recreational sector.

luckily through networking, hard work, becoming educated through MREP, and working with guys across the gulf I was lucky enough to defeat 41 with ease. Many of the charter guys backed out as the allocations didn't allow for enough days at sea. The big fight was 42 and due to that head boat pilot program that allowed 17 head boats across the gulf to pilot test an IFQ system many fought hard to push 42 through despite 41's failure. That AP meeting where we all met and discussed this was the most intense and contentious meeting I have been apart of. My father was on the AP not me, but every meeting is open to the public so I sat in the audience and thanks to attending lots of meetings and thanks to the MREP program I had enough cell numbers of the AP members I could sit in the back and text the group and was able to on break to talk to factions and between my dad and I and Jim green (the president of CFA) we were able to defeat am 42. Jim green is a younger guy like I am and him and I forged a great working relationship as fellow party boat fisherman who were against this program. Luckily both 41 and 42 failed after that AP meeting and the council tabled both.
this was my biggest fear back fighting am 40 was that allocation based management was next thing they would try to push and I was right... but it failed due mainly to how well am 40 allowed recreational access. More days and steady seasons has worked to provide longer more accountable access for recreational fisherman on party boats and charter boats. However, the private recreational sector was still in turmoil so then came the move to am 50 or state management. This is the reason for the difference in season lengths, and Bob Harbison what you failed to put in your original post is that the state management for private recs means that the state can also re open seasons and the FWC did that last year and probably will again. The open days for private rec fisherman last year were extended well into the fall while our recreational for hire fleet season never saw an extension. State management has worked to provide the recreational angler more access and also the states have more maneuverability than the feds allowing for late in the year re openings if the quota isn't full. Florida's FWC is working hard on the reef fish survey program to even make it more nimble for in season quota monitoring for better access. PLUS, YOU HAVE THE GREAT RED SNAPPER COUNT coming that was a congressional mandate that is finding that there's as many as 4x the amount of red snapper in the gulf than the federal assessments claim so we could see a huge bump in the OFL, ABC and ultimately the ACT for the private rec angler meaning even longer season. Plus, the new FES survey in MRIP showing the private rec landings are more than 2-3x higher in some species meaning the rec anglers need more quota and fish. Look at red grouper they are talking about shifting almost 20-30% of the quota from comm sector to the recreational sector!

all this shows this is a moving playing field and complaining about sector separation is old news, what we should be looking at is the state calibrations to MRIP, the red grouper debacle, what they are saying about gags and grey triggerfish. The move to interim analysis annually of our fish stocks and more current programs and amendments and moves that will affect our recreational fishery in the short term.

the big issue here is that sector separation moved the small universe of fed for hire rec anglers to a know entity. In the gulf there's a moratorium on permits. There's even a move to required VMS and electronic daily reporting now for the fed for hire anglers. So with knowing exactly how many boats are fishing, when and where that accountability will only increase access and sustainability.
The private rec sector is where we need to work on this. The state's gulf reef fish survey should be more propagated and be a paid endorsement on your license so when you go get a state fishing license and sign up for the reef fish endorsement to catch grouper, snapper, amberjack, mutton and such you should have to pay a dollar or two so it stops someone in Walmart in Lakeland from checking that box who will never plan on fishing for these fish. Once we dial in on a defined universe then we need a solid way to track numbers of fish and trips taken. Look at Mississippi tails and scales they have close to a 100 day season for their private rec anglers while their fed for hire only have that same 62 days... that is due to a smaller controllable coast line and their tails and scales program. You cannot run a private angling trip offshore without a trip number generated from the app then when you come in you have to close that trip number with a landing report before you can do another trip or renew your license this allows them to have a defined universe of knowing how many fish, what they caught and how many trips they take. ELIMINATE THE GUESSWORK and seasons become more stable and access grows. We can all agree no one likes extrapolating survey data to make assumptions in catch numbers.

THIS IS WHAT we should be talking about how do we take that 45 day season and make it 100? We work towards more accountability and a defined universe! Join me at the next FWC meeting we can stand together at the podium and work towards making that gulf reef fish endorsement on state licenses a paid endorsement to help get a better defined universe of private anglers in Florida so we can have better data! Next we will need to work on some sort of reporting requirement to allow our private anglers even more access!

so bob to answer your question, the reason the season lengths are different is about a four page dissertation on state management and the allocation between states and the fact that nearly 40% of red snapper landings come from Florida since we have so many anglers and so much coast line the state FWC struggles to define a universe and have set numbers of landings. We need to work to fix this together not attack each other online about who's apart of what group.

I join people who I believe I can work with to better our fishery, better our access, and preserve and sustain our fish stocks for the future. I look forward to meeting all of you around the docks here at Hubbard's or at a council meeting or FWC meeting where I believe out from behind the computer screen you will find someone working hard for you and your rights to fish.

we are all recreational anglers... it doesn't matter if you fish a dock, boat, jetty, pier, beach, charter boat or party boat... we are all in this together and have to stick together to keep allocation based management out of our recreational fishery and keep our access as prolific as possible

Capt Dylan Hubbard
Owner, Hubbard's Marina
[email protected]
(727)393-1947 ext 306
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