About Us

Welcome to the website of Southern Offshore Fishing Association (S.O.F.A.). We are a non-profit organization formed to promote fresh, high quality, domestic fish. Over the years, we have worked hard to enhance the image of the American fisherman and promote our products to the consumer. We have worked together with other fishery groups and many agencies, both state and federal, to keep the Gulf of Mexico clean and environmentally secure.

As time has gone by, we find we have become more of a fisherman's advocacy organization. We have worked in the past both with and against various government agencies to try to ensure that regulation of the fisheries is carried out in a sane and fair manner.

We now find ourselves in an outright war for survival. The N.M.F.S., empowered by a reworking of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conserservatio Act which was passed to try and help maintain our fisheries in a sustainable manner, are narrowly interpreting that law and using their interpretation to justify either shutting down or over-regulating fisheries to the point of making it impossible for the participants to continue to make a living. We all need to concentrate our efforts and work to try and stop them from getting any further out of control in their efforts to regulate our industry right out of business.

Some recent items regarding issues we are dealing with.

"Take The Pledge" A program for restaurants serving fresh seafood.

We're starting a program to work hand in hand with some honest restauranteurs interested in serving quality seafood on their menus. We will promote your restaurant (or other seafood business) if you simply pledge to label your offerings correctly and only serve fresh domestic wild caught grouper or snapper when your menu says grouper or snapper. We aren't trying to tell anyone what to serve or what to eat (although we surely prefer everyone eat grouper caught by S.O.F.A. members) we are just asking participating restaurants to be honest with their customers and to be proud of serving fresh local product. We have some artwork and hopefully soon we will have some window stickers to help promote the program and will provide some free advertising space for each restaurant that "Takes The Pledge". More on this page.

Email from Capt. Bob Zales regarding Washington, DC trip.

Several regional and national associations representing over 100 organizations from across the United States joined as a united voice seeking a common cause on Wednesday June 18, 2008. This was a historic day for fishing in the United States as all sectors (private recreational, charter, and commercial) stood together seeking legislative and financial relief from congress. Several of us represented over 20 associations from Florida and the Gulf. I represented the Conservation Cooperative of Gulf Fishermen (CCGF) and the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO), Greg Abrams and Bob Spaeth represented the commercial fishing sector from Florida and other parts of the Gulf as Bob represented the Southern Offshore Fishing Association (SOFA) and the Southeastern Fisheries Association (SFA), Dennis O'hern represented the Fishing Rights Alliance (FRA), Travis Palladeno, a charter/commercial fishermen from Madeira Beach represented other fishermen from his area.

The 5 of us met with staffs of Congressmen Bill Young, Gus Bilirakis, Allan Boyd, Jeff Miller, and Jo Bonner. We also met with the staffs of Senators Nelson, Martinez, Shelby, and Sessions. As you can see it was a very busy day. It was also the most promising and productive day I have had in DC. The fact that all sectors were sitting together and working for the common cause to be able to fish impressed everyone we spoke with and we received encouraging advice and support from everyone.

We have a lot of work to do now and will be providing more info to you and how you will be able to further help in this effort. We do not look for legislative relief for this year as the coming Presidential election has congress in a position of not passing any substantial legislation, but we are hopeful that there may be some economic help available before the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more.



Former fishery rivals pool resources to question grouper science

So reads a headline in a St. Petersburg Times article dated June 6, 2008. This article refers to the alliance S.O.F.A. and other groups are forming to work for us before we have nothing left to work for. You can read the full aricle here.

We can't continue to do this without the support of our present membership and can not continue on into the future without new members and more support. We have a lot of work ahead of us, none of it cheap and much of it needing to be done right away to head off multi-month closures in the coming years. Shark fishermen have already been virtually put out of business, grouper and snapper fishermen appear to next in line with extended closures in 2009 almost a certainty if things are not changed soon. We all need to work now to try to keep our way of life alive.

Important open letter from S.O.F.A.

Please read this Recent Open Letter from S.O.F.A. to all members and interested parties. You can also view and download a printable .pdf version here.

Letter sent to Governor Crist by attorney Mike Mastry

SOFA continues to pursue legal channels to help fishermen. This letter represents one method we are exploring.

Report from scientist Dr. Trevor Kenchington

This report, done by Dr. Trevor J. Kenchington of Gadus Associates for the newly formed alliance of Fishing Rights Alliance and Southern Offshore Fishing Association, has been sent to the Standing SSC and Special Reef Fish SSC (Scientific and Statistical Committee) members for their review.