Bold commitments to sustainable fisheries at the United Nations will help Belize achieve sustainable oceans goals

The government of Belize has just made major voluntary commitments at the United Nations Oceans Conference that, once implemented, will secure Belize’s fisheries as an engine for sustainable development.

Healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries are crucial for poverty alleviation, food security and generating economic growth in low and middle income countries. This goal is reinforced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which declare a target to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” The health and vibrancy of Belize’s coastal communities, where 15,000 people depend on fisheries for their livelihoods, depend on this target becoming a reality.

Last week, fisheries ministers, fishermen, community leaders and the conservation community from around the world gathered at the United Nations Oceans Conference to share experiences and strategies for achieving this vision, and declare voluntary commitments for good stewardship of the oceans.

The Government of Belize, representatives of Belize’s fishing community, Environmental Defense Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Toledo Institute for Development and Environment and The Nature Conservancy presented Belize’s major achievements in sustainable fisheries at the conference. At the gathering of leaders and experts in fisheries management from around the world, Belize’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change, Minister Omar Figueroa, highlighted the major step Belize took in partnership with Belize’s fishing and conservation community to end open access fisheries, and implement the world’s first national system of multispecies fishing rights for a small-scale developing world fishery, called managed access. In some fishing areas, this system is already yielding benefits as fishermen are reporting higher catch, and illegal fishing has dropped 60%. Read More »

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New fisherman coming to Morro Bay

Kyle Pemberton is a 29-year old fisherman from El Granada, California.  He grew up fishing and crabbing with his father and uncle out of Half Moon Bay, at the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, where he currently resides.  He always showed strong math and mechanical skills, and considered studying engineering, but fishing proved too strong a pull.  He crewed for several years, working his way up to alternate captain on Steve Fitz’s boat, the F/V Mr. Morgan, using the unique and light-touch Scottish seine gear.

With a California Fisheries Fund loan, Kyle purchased the successful trawler F/V Moriah Lee, and is soon pulling up roots to move a four-hour drive down the coast to Morro Bay to trawl for West Coast groundfish, including Dover sole, Chilipepper rockfish, Petrale sole, and thornyheads.  He is leasing quota from the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund, a nonprofit created to prevent historic trawl fishing activity from consolidating into larger fishing vessels and ports, securing rights to the groundfish resource locally.  Anchoring groundfish access in small scale fishing ports such as Morro Bay is critical to the economic viability of these communities.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund and become part of the groundfish fleet,” he told CFF. “I am very thrilled to establish my new home and become part of the Morro Bay community.”

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Science, warnings and the plight of coral reefs

A tragedy is unfolding on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism on the planet.  The non-Hollywood ending is a surprise to many, but it was clearly foreshadowed decades ago by a small group of scientists who were criticized as false prophets of doom and dismissed.

Large sections of the reef are dead.  The reef has been remarkably resilient over the last 8000 years, weathering devastating outbreaks of voracious crown-of-thorns starfish, pollution, fishing and coral bleaching.  The establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority no doubt contributed to that resilience, reducing impacts from some of these threats, especially land-based pollution and fishing pressure.  Recent research by EDF and others shows that managing fisheries is crucial for maintaining healthy coral reefs. Read More »

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There's nothing modern about overfishing

A recently-filed bill with the upbeat title “The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act,” H.R. 2023, would unfortunately do just the opposite.  By gutting one of the most important improvements of modern fisheries law, we believe that this bill would move us backwards to a time of widespread overfishing. Read More »

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Sea changes: The ‘interesting times’ facing European fisheries

By: Erik Lindebo

Calm seas or stormy waters? Well, we are only three months into 2017 and, for a number of reasons, it's already looking like a tumultuous year – calling to mind the ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”.

Around the world, we are seeing dramatic political shifts. In Europe, Brexit has sent shockwaves through political establishments and, regardless of the final outcomes, we now face years of political uncertainty, and highly complex and no doubt emotive negotiations. Brokering a deal around fisheries will certainly be no exception, if past is prologue; only time will tell how access to waters, resources and markets will look in a divorce settlement with the EU. These changing times require new, adaptive ways of thinking about fisheries management.  Read More »

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Fishing gear innovations creating great results for fish, fishermen and habitat

Trawl gear modifications produce reductions in bycatch, fuel use and seafloor contact – all with increased catching efficiency.

Over the past couple of years EDF’s Pacific team has been privileged to work with fishermen, scientists, fishing net manufacturers and many others on a three-stage project to demonstrate the feasibility of improved trawl net designs on the West Coast. The video shown here describes the amazing progress we’ve made together and indicates a path-forward for disseminating our results to fishermen everywhere.

Read More »

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