Gene Mueller’s column on the dangers of individual fishing quotas (IFQs) in the Gulf of Mexico aptly describes some of the problems fishermen could face if quota systems become the leading fishery-management tool there (“Free market taking over Gulf,” Sports, May 10). Traditional IFQ programs are, in practice, equivalent to making a public resource - our fish - like private property because only certain people are allowed to catch them. There are other problems associated with this type of management, too.
IFQs can result in significant job losses. Small-business fishermen or those who fish for multiple types of fish often get squeezed out, and any new fishermen who want to enter the business can be shut out. With fewer fishermen, even small businesses that support fishing communities - such as tackle shops - could be forced to close. In addition, the IFQ plan may increase by-catch and will be expensive to run.
The process by which the plan was designed excluded the majority of those whose livelihoods will be at stake. About 69 percent of permit holders were not allowed to participate in the vote on whether the plan should move forward. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should reconsider plans to implement IFQs in the Gulf.
Fish program director
Food & Water Watch