On EDFish, we’re often discussing the virtues of catch shares and the progress we’re making working with fishermen to achieve sustainable fisheries. It’s nice to see others take notice of the importance of rebuilding American fisheries and making sure their not only sustainable, but economically viable.
This week, catch shares got some attention from the editors at Bloomberg. In their editorial, “Teach an Industry to Fish and Maybe it will Survive” catch shares were held up as the “best alternative” to managing our fisheries in a way that’s fair to fishermen and ensure sustainability. They affirm that carefully designed catch shares deserve more attention and widespread implementation.
While the world’s oceans and fisheries face many challenges including overfishing, EDF believes catch shares offer a positive way forward. They are a management tool for fisheries that consider the economic, social and biological concerns of stakeholders. Rebuilding fish populations and ensuring stable jobs for fishermen can go hand in hand.
The editorial asserted that in implementing new catch shares “those with the most at stake – people who fish for a living – have a say in how the programs are designed and carried out.” We couldn’t agree more.
The most important element to designing any catch share is fishermen. EDF believes that any change in how fisheries are managed should be led by fishermen and is best started by an open conversation not a mandate. Catch share programs, like the ones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific, were successful because they were built by a coalition of fishermen that participated in the process from beginning to end.