Ran into a fella that I know this past week. I had not seen him for 5 yrs.
He was commercial fishing during the right time. 1999-2006 seems to be the dates that he mentioned. He is around 60. He was very likely not heavily into the fishing business most of his life. At least not operating a 45' boat. He was simply in the commercial fishing business during the right years. He also had some money when the quota system was launched. I really don't know where his resources came from when he gradually bought up other quotas from fishermen that were only granted small portions.
He says that the quota system is now an "investment tool". Just as you buy stocks, pork bellies, oil, or gold. Incorporate those quotas into part of an IRA investment fund. He sounds a lot more banker than fisherman, these days. He is enjoying his situation. Sounds as if today the eastern gulf now has 300 active commercial "fishermen" (qouta holders??), compared to 800 about five years ago. He is not popular with many fishermen, that are trying to balance a charter/commercial business.
He has not done a thing illegal. This way the government has 5/8less fishermen to keep track of.For each trip, he pays 3% of "his gross catch $'s" to the government. That is a 3% tax. They know where his boat is 24/7. He calls within so many days/hrs before he leaves and he has to come back at specified time. Weather or other emergencies require a notification. He is met at the dock when he off loads. Occasionally he is notified before his departure, that a govt observer will be going with them. I believe he has a three man crew. This individual sees every fish as it comes aboard and attempts to handle each fish?? He measures fish, counts fish caught, and counts fish released. Obviously when the bite is on, that would be very difficult, but for the most part, he knows what is being caught; its size, and what is being released. He also says cameras will be on board all those vessels very soon. So much for bringing your concubine!
It was an interesting conversation. As I said, he is very happy. The fish are bringing great prices. He no longer fishes in extreme weather. He has no trip limits. I believe he usually fishes 3-5 days. His boat runs 10-18knt, fast for the commercial sector. His box is very large so if he only fishes 7-14 days a month, he is doing very well. He did not mention how many IFQ's he leases out. I know of a couple. Again, remember they are an "investment tool."
I don't blame him, he has always been straight up with me. He's a good businessman. I did argue several points about what commercial fishing has turned into. No government (accept local zoning boards) seems to say, "Stop, we have too many tire stores. Stop we have too many shoe stores. Stop we have too many Quick Stop, 7 Eleven type stores". Do they regulate the number of farmers? Why do they have to regulate the number of commercial fisherman? How else can you grow "Big government"? Again, he is very happy and will say "It is time to realize that the fisheries do not belong to all of us." That idea did not sit well with me. Soooo, with me not being much for beating around the bush, I told him I disagreed. We each were in a hurry, so after all this, we said, "See you later".
By the way, he seems certain that all this is headed towards the recreational sector. He is sure it will be begin with purchasing tags...... very soon. Is this a great country or what!
Hell,he should be happy. Say if he has 10,000 lbs he could sell them for about 25 to 30 dollars a lb or just lease them for about 3.50 a lb and never have to wet a hook. Pretty good goverment IRA. Also the 3 % he is paying is not nearly enough money to cover the cost of the program and you and I have to make up the difference(over a million and a half tax payers dollars) Now they want us to buy fish tags- give me a break.
25 to 30 dollars are what he can get if he SELLS his shares outright. If he LEASES his shares to another fisherman the price is around 3.50 a lb.The fisherman can then SELL his catch for around 4.50 a lb. Like I said he makes 3.50 a lb and does not even have to fish, while the fisherman who leases the shares and brings in the fish make around a buck a lb.
Gotta tell ya, I don't think he is too interested in selling shares. He likely catches/produces around 60,000-90,000 lbs of ALL snappers and ALL groupers combined during a 12 month period. He leases some shares to others for???? My guess is the price depends on who and when. As long as he is still running trips, he is not selling. I suspect RS are bringing above $5/lb to the boat. Perhaps much more.
I did not pry into all the details. He volunteered a great deal of info.
FYI, no one worth much is going to fish for long at buck a pound. Now, if that does not include AJ's, beeliners, mango's, red porgies, etc, then it could easily increase.
As I understand it, a lot of the shares that are leased out are fisherman that have grouper quotas and no snapper quotas.They lease them because of the snapper by catch when tageting grouper.Better to make a buck than discarding them and get nothing.
OK, that helps shed some light on this. I have not sold a fish in over ten years. I simply hate the govt regulating everything they can find. All this fisheries regulation comes "With the best available data"??????
Sounds foolish when "their best available data" is............. perhaps has a "50% accuracy" in a complete knowledge of marine stocks. How many good decisions are made when looking at 50% of what is going on? At best, that's called "Guessing".
Although, it is much easier to count fishermen, than fish in the sea.