Photo credits: Noel Lopez Fernandez, Jason Houston, Carlos Aguilera
Today, fisheries provide just a fraction of their potential in terms of food and income. Although many threats, including climate change and habitat loss, contribute to the declining health of the oceans, overfishing remains the leading cause of fishery depletion worldwide. Globally, 40% of fisheries are in deep trouble and outdated management is squandering more than 50 billion dollars in potential income.
The good news is that by tackling overfishing, we can unleash the oceans’ natural resilience and achieve a dramatic recovery in fish populations.
We are making progress every day transitioning more fisheries to sustainable management policies and practices that help create much healthier oceans that support more fish, feed more people and improve livelihoods. These outcomes go hand in hand, because a healthier, more resilient ocean is also one that can support larger harvests. Read More »
Fishing boats in Chatham, MA. Photo credit: Tim Connor, EDF
It’s time to face the fact that the cod fishery in New England is on the verge of collapse. The problem has been a long time coming. Decades of heavy fishing pressure, federal subsidies, counterproductive political intervention, unpredictable science, inadequate catch data and now climate change, have brought the iconic cod fishery to its knees.
The calls for a closure are increasing and it’s getting harder to justify opposition to such a move.
Some would say this centuries old fishery, a staple of New England, needs a miracle. But what it really needs is leadership. Now is the time for our leaders to step up and make hard choices. Are we going to let New England’s cod become a relic? Or are we going to reverse the tide and do everything necessary to bring this important fishery back from the brink? Read More »
For Republicans, this week's midterm elections are cause for almost unreserved celebration. GOP candidates came close to sweeping the table in competitive House and Senate races around the country. Among the winners were Republican incumbents who have been constructive partners on fisheries issues and who were strongly supported by EDF Action, our sister organization: leaders like Senator Susan Collins in Maine and Congressman Chris Gibson in New York.
One House race, however, ran starkly against the trend. Two-term Republican incumbent Steve Southerland went down to a stunning defeat in the Florida panhandle's second congressional district. While many factors shaped the outcome—not least of which was a series of missteps on the campaign trail by an incumbent facing a smart and savvy challenger—make no mistake: Steve Southerland's outspoken anti-oceans agenda was on the ballot in Florida 2, and his defeat is a strong repudiation of the incumbent’s approach. It is yet another sign that ‘politics as usual’ in fisheries management is changing as fishermen and environmentalists work together to build healthier and more productive fisheries. Read More »
Astoria, Oregon fisherman Kevin Dunn is familiar to EDF’s Pacific Ocean team because we worked with him closely to redesign fishing nets and reduce bycatch. Now he’s becoming familiar to millions of others through a Whole Foods Market commercial that debuted during the World Series.
The Whole Foods ad is a great illustration of a simple but powerful idea: well-designed fishery management systems can not only result in conservation gains and a healthier environment, but also economic gains for the people that rely on the ocean for their livelihood.
This has been a big year for fishermen in the West Coast groundfish catch share program. It received a sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council and an upgrade in sustainability ratings from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for many of the fish they catch. When the MSC certified the fishery sustainable, it noted that this was the most diverse and complex fishery ever considered for certification, and emphasized the important role that catch shares played in recovering the fishery.
The fact that Kevin and his crew now represent the very best in sustainable seafood sourcing is remarkable, and very hopeful. In 2000, the fishery was formally declared a disaster due to decades-long mismanagement. EDF worked with fishermen and seafood suppliers to turn this fishery around by advancing new management solutions, including catch shares. We also provided tools to help fishermen and suppliers through the transition — such as innovative new lending mechanisms like the California Fisheries Fund. Today their trawl catch is “independently rated for sustainability; traceable from dock to store” and they are part of a durable industry that supplies about 250 million pounds of sustainable seafood every year.
Kevin and his boat the Iron Lady are also featured in a 3-minute YouTube video with Whole Foods supplier Bornstein Seafoods, the company to which Kevin delivers his catch. It’s a nice glimpse of what our West Coast fishermen friends do for a living and the positive relationships that often emerge after catch shares go into effect. In traditionally managed fisheries it’s unusual to see fishermen partnering closely with seafood processors. But with improved fishery management comes closer cooperation and new possibilities for partnerships between fishermen and seafood buyers.
In addition to forming partnerships, fishermen are able to spend more time innovating with their gear and carefully planning their businesses. The net you see spilling its catch onto the Iron Lady’s deck is one we helped Kevin test. It has a built-in excluder device that allows halibut – a non-target species for Kevin – to escape unharmed. Another example of a solution that works for fish and fishermen!
This is a pivotal time for Scottish fisheries. With the challenges of implementing the European Union’s ambitious Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) coupled with the recent Scottish Government consultation with fishermen and other stakeholders on the future of Scottish quota management, collaboration is essential. This government consultation is an opportunity for change and for fishermen, industry representatives and others to make their views heard. Creating solidarity around key principles is a great way to do this – and it’s even better if those views can be represented across the fleet. The Scottish Whitefish Producer’s Association (SWFPA) recognise this and hosted a workshop in Peterhead, Scotland on October 1 to help jumpstart the conversation about the future of quota management in Scotland.
EDF’s EU oceans team was invited to help facilitate and arranged for representatives from fisheries in Denmark, the United States and Canada to share their knowledge about what it means to go through a system of change. What all of these experiences have a common is that fishermen and fishing representatives must be at the heart of any process towards change. Creating platforms for working collaboratively and exchanging ideas and values can be a great way to carve through the complexity of government proposals while at the same time giving individuals an opportunity to think about what is really important to them. The workshop in Peterhead did just that. Read More »
The fishing industry contributes about $90 billion annually to the U.S. economy, which translates to over one and a half million jobs for American workers.
Sustainably managed fisheries have a higher economic value to fishing dependent communities, than those under unsustainable management. Understanding this fact is of paramount importance to ensuring a sustainable and thriving future for both fishermen and fish in the U.S. and globally.
Our work at EDF Oceans is focused on aligning the economic and environmental incentives for fishermen to ensure a sustainable fishing future and we believe that catch shares are an essential tool to achieving this goal.