In the United States today, 65% of all fish caught in federal U.S. waters comes from catch share programs, which helped drive a 17 year high in fish landings last year. We are continuing to see evidence that catch shares can help to rebuild fish populations while providing fishermen with more stable and profitable jobs as the stock recovers. Last year was exciting and productive for our Oceans team. We want to look back at the year with you, and look forward to how we will continue working with fishermen and fishery managers to restore fish populations at home and abroad. Our goals for 2013 are to:
- Improve the health and profitability of U.S. commercial fisheries and ocean ecosystems
- Advance Pilot Projects that improve recreational fisheries by partnering with recreational fishermen
- Promote catch shares internationally
- Work with fishery stakeholders and scientists to improve science, data collection and monitoring in both catch share and non-catch share fisheries for improved management.
- In 2011, just three catch share programs (the Pacific Groundfish IFQ, New England sector program, and the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper IFQ programs) saved nearly 16 million pounds of fish from being wasted last year as discards—enough to feed about one million Americans their seafood for a year.
- In the Pacific Region, January 2012 marked the first-year anniversary of a catch share management program for more than 60 species of commercially important groundfish. EDF played a key role in the program’s development, and we are working hard to ensure its durability. In the first year, West Coast fishermen discarded 80% fewer fish than in the previous year, and their revenues reached $54 million—42% higher than the previous five-year average (2011 NOAA Report).
- West Coast fishermen under the groundfish IFQ can now market their fish as “100% Observer Coverage: No Overfishing Guaranteed” with a colorful label that indicates to the consumer their fish were caught responsibly and sustainably. Adding value and traceability to the seafood market is an essential benefit for catch share fishermen and we are proud of helping foster such innovations.
- In the Mid-Atlantic, we partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland's commercial blue crab industry to pilot an innovative Monitoring and Accountability System for the blue crab fishery. Better catch accounting and data management will help the industry and the MDNR maintain a healthy and sustainable stock of blue crabs, and improve collaboration between the industry and the agency for successful co-management of the resource.
- In New England, we have advanced the need for both accumulation limits (to protect small fishermen by capping the amount of quota any one entity can own) and more comprehensive and cost-effective monitoring. We have also taken important positions that maintain protection of fish stocks while helping New England fishermen weather unprecedented ecosystem change and severely declining stocks.
- In February, we joined the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans—an international alliance of over 100 governments, NGOs, civil society groups and private sector interests with the common mission of restoring global oceans and fisheries to health.
- This year we launched the “Fish Forever” initiative with the global conservation group Rare and the University of California at Santa Barbara. We aim to spread proven strategies for near-shore fisheries management, such as catch shares coupled with marine reserves, through local leadership and social marketing.
- We helped create and launch a groundbreaking fisheries management system in two heavily fished locations in Belize that will serve as a model for putting small scale, coastal fisheries throughout the developing world on a sustainable path. The system combines marine reserves with catch shares, empowering fishermen to become stewards. After just one year, 80% of fishermen report an increase in compliance and enforcement, and many are asking for bigger marine reserves.
- Our research and development team has participated in scientific assessments of catch shares globally. Several members of our Catch Share Design Center team helped to author, “Assessing Catch Shares’ Effects Evidence from Federal United States and Associated British Columbia Fisheries” which can also be found with comprehensive graphics as a brochure. The team also completed extensive research culminating in the development of a map, available in both English and Spanish, which identifies nearly 200 marine catch share programs worldwide.
Looking ahead to 2013, we will continue to work to make sure that catch share programs both help fishermen succeed economically and help stabilize and recover fish populations. This will involve continued in-depth work with fishery managers, fishermen and other stakeholders to reduce costs of catch share programs as well as working to get the science right so that fishermen have predictable access to important fish stocks. Internationally, we have plans to work with partners on collaborative on the ground and educational projects. We have been invited to share our catch shares expertise at conferences and workshops in a number of different countries including Tanzania, Belize, Cuba, Mexico, Belgium, Sweden and the UK.