Almost one year ago, the West Coast's largest commercial fishery by volume transitioned to a catch share management system. The new system:
- Enables fishermen operating in the multispecies groundfish trawl sector to fish when they want, rather than forcing them into a series of two-month "use it or lose it" fishing time-frames;
- Enables them to lease or trade quota for specific species and adapt their fishing practices to both market and weather conditions; and
- Ends the universally-despised "regulatory discards," which, under the previous management system, compelled fishermen to throw uncounted tons of perfectly good fish overboard, dead.
The Oregon Field Guide recently sent a reporter/videographer team on a fishing trip aboard the F/V Cape Windy, with Oregon fisherman Paul Kujala, to witness firsthand how the new system is affecting fishermen. During the trip, Kujala was surprised to haul in a large amount of Canary Rockfish, one of the most tightly-regulated "constraining species" that the new system is designed to gradually rebuild. In the past, those fish would have been thrown overboard. You can view the OPB video here.