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Ben Raines of Al.com just released an explosive, in-depth study of the new ‘Lords of the Sea’ that are controlling millions of dollars of fishing quota on the Gulf Coast of the United States. It all began in 2007 when the  Individual Fishing Quota system, or IFQ, was established, and began a process to divide the shares of the red snapper.

Some of the information from the article include: A four-month probe by AL.com has found that roughly $60 million has been earned since 2007 by this small number of fishermen whose boats never left port. That money was collected from the labor of fishermen who have no choice but to hand over more than half of the price that their catch brings at the dock.

As it stands today, the right to catch 77 percent of the annual red snapper harvest is controlled by just 55 people, according to an AL.com analysis of hundreds of pages of federal documents, reports and websites.

“You’ve got shareholders who think it is wonderful and I don’t blame them. We’ve made them millionaires,” said Glen Bryant, owner of Bryant Products Inc., a seafood distributor in Bayou La Batre, talking about the snapper kingpins. “Everyone told me how wonderful it was going to be. I don’t see it. What I see is that we’ve turned our fishermen into sharecroppers. They go work for these people who actually own the fish.”

Red snapper feeding frenzy off Alabama. Video recorded by Joe Cain of Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

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