Japan-Philippines fishery exchange highlights the benefits of collaboration

Bringing fishers and fishery managers from different places together through fishery exchanges is a powerful way to learn and build trust as you explore new approaches to manage fishing. After attending  and leading dozens of fishery exchanges over the years, I have been amazed by the peer-to-peer discussions that take place, regardless of language barriers or cultural differences, and the candor of government officials and fishers describing the challenges they have faced or successes they have worked to achieve. It is incredible to see participants hear about something new or innovative that they could bring back to their communities.  The excitement is contagious.

While there are always major differences between fisheries that make some aspects of learning challenging or even inapplicable, we want people to recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of ones fishery. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to managing fisheries because each fishery has its own set of characteristics based on the history of the fishery, culture of the area, species composition, governance structure, resources, and most importantly fishers and their accustomed fishing practices.  These exchanges are an opportunity to share experiences with others and to learn from each other about new and different approaches that can be adopted to improve fisheries management.

Recently, EDF and our partner Rare-Philippines organized a Japan-Philippines exchange for a delegation from the Philippines to visit several fisheries in Mie Prefecture, Japan.  We were particularly inspired to see firsthand what happens when fishers are empowered by the local government to make day to day management decisions: they pursue solutions that improve their livelihoods, and the long term sustainability of the fish they depend on. Those attending included champion mayors and their local government staff from eight municipalities that all have legally approved TURF+Reserves and are in the process of implementing these new systems on the water.  Read More »

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Research sheds light on how to better manage small-scale fisheries

Small scale fisheries are critically important for the provision of food security, livelihoods, and economic development for billions of people. Most of these fisheries appear to be under-performing with respect to conservation, food production, revenue, and the quality of the livelihoods they can support.

Many factors related to successful small-scale fisheries management have been articulated in previous research and through practical e xperience, including strong leadership, co-management, secure catch or marine tenure privileges, and scientific assessment of fishery status.   Both the pathways and tools employed in fishery reform vary, but there is a growing consensus that the integration of effective fisheries governance and science-based management is crucial for success.

Together with fishermen and women, community members, managers and scientists we have identified some major lessons that arise from case studies in Belize, Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines. In newly published research, my colleagues and I evaluate the stories, challenges and lessons learned from these fisheries, where these groups are developing science-based solutions for sustainable fishing. We found that successful science-based management includes fisher participation and empowerment, partnership across sectors and community buy-in, and sound scientific analysis. Read More »

Posted in Belize, Cuba, International, Mexico, Science/Research| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Science-based management in U.S. fisheries: Progress and the road ahead

In August, I had the honor of being the co-organizer of a symposium at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting titled “Ten Years of Science-Based management in U.S. Fisheries: Progress and the Road Ahead” with my colleague Jake Kritzer.  A distinguished group of eight speakers joined us to present papers on topics ranging from the evolution of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to the benefits that science-based management has yielded for Alaskan fisheries, and discuss how the Act has performed and how to tackle the challenges that remain with fisheries scientists and managers from across the country and globe.

Speakers included scientists, managers, and a commercial fisherman and covered a geographic range from Florida to Alaska.  Some of the speakers approached the subject with experience that extended back to well into the previous versions of the Act.

The consensus could be best summed up by one a point made by Dr. Mike Sissenwine, a council member of New England Fishery Management Council, early in his presentation: Science-based management has worked.

Overall, the group concluded that the current incarnation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act has greatly improved conservation outcomes.  Since the reauthorization, overfishing has decreased dramatically and a significant number of stocks have been rebuilt.

Our commercial fishing participant, Jason de la Cruz from Florida, noted that the current Act made him feel more confident about the basis of decisions and had led to increased opportunities to collaborate on science.  In Alaska, Diana Evans, deputy director for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, highlighted that fishermen and managers now look beyond the difficult task of setting annual catch limits to new management challenges like ecosystem-based fishery management that can be informed by innovative scientific tools being created for their Fishery Ecosystem Plan. Read More »

Posted in Domestic, Gulf of Mexico, Policy, Seafood| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Chile’s President reaffirms commitment to marine conservation

Julio Chamarro at the UN

Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to protecting the marine environment while speaking at a meeting on ocean conservation issues during the annual gathering last week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Our commitment to the prosperity and well-being of our citizens cannot be disassociated with economic growth,” she said.  “But for the same reason, we must accept, once and for all, that long-term growth is not possible, nor is it true development, without an active policy of environmental protection.”

We couldn’t agree more with the President that long term growth is not possible without the protection of the environment. We also believe that working hand in hand with fishermen is critical to building sustainable fisheries, and that economic prosperity is achievable even alongside environmental protections.

That’s why we are excited and inspired to see that President Bachelet invited Julio Chamorro, a lobster fishermen from Juan Fernandez to attend the meeting  of the UN General Assembly and present on the importance of marine protected areas and sustainable fishing.   Read More »

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New red snapper proposals need safeguards from overfishing

Lawmakers in the House and Senate recently introduced legislation aimed at the perpetually contentious Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. Thanks to stronger conservation standards and accountability, red snapper numbers in the Gulf have tripled in the last decade and catch limits have doubled, leading to increased value for commercial fishermen and access for charter and for-hire vessels. Unfortunately, private anglers are stuck under a profoundly broken management system. Congressman Garret Graves, Senator Bill Cassidy and others on Capitol Hill propose to give the Gulf states the chance to manage this specific part of the red snapper fishery.

Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife via flickr: https://flic.kr/p/VjyKem

We share the desire to give private anglers more flexibility and certainty in their fishing opportunities, and states are already innovating under current law, such as the LA Creel program in Louisiana. The new bills (H.R. 3588 and S. 1686) have improved significantly from similar attempts last Congress. But without further safeguards, they threaten to take us back to the failures of the past, when the fishery was severely depleted and red snapper was hard to find for seafood consumers and anglers alike.

The current proposals would give the five Gulf States authority to manage the private angler portion of the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters; commercial and charter/for-hire fishermen would remain under federal management. But because the bills lack provisions to ensure that the private angler sector stays within its quota (after exceeding it nine of the last 12 years), the bills would jeopardize the sustainability of the fishery and undermine the commercial and charter sectors.

Current law requires federal fishery managers to keep every sector – commercial, charter and private angler – within an annual catch limit. If one group exceeds its quota, managers must make adjustments to make up for the overage and prevent it happening in the future to ensure long-term sustainability.

Read More »

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New online training will enable better fisheries management

What if anyone in the world could access expert help and advice on fisheries management with just the click of button?

Overfishing is a global problem that can only be overcome by a global effort to address it. But there is no one-size-sits-all approach. Fisheries managers need access to tools and methods that can be effective on a local scale.

Our Virtual Fisheries Academy is a new resource for fisheries management professionals all over the world. Getting strong fisheries management in place around the world relies on an empowered network of fishery managers, fishermen, scientists and other practitioners who have the knowledge and skills to develop fishery management solutions that work for their fisheries.

Read More »

Posted in International, Policy, Science/Research| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed
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