Author Archives: Amanda Leland

Live from Singapore: World Bank Announces Global Partnership for Oceans

There is palpable excitement in Singapore as government, industry, and NGO leaders from around the world are gathered for The Economist's World Oceans Summit. We've spent decades diagnosing the many challenges facing the oceans and testing new solutions, and now a growing chorus of voices are calling for global action.  With leadership we can–and will–recover global fisheries in our lifetimes.

Today's announcement by Robert Zoellick, president of The World Bank, of a Global Partnership for Oceans is a critical signal and significant step toward that goal.  EDF is proud to be a founding member of this “growing alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector interests that will mobilize knowledge and financial resources to address threats to ocean health, resilience and productivity.”

Mr. Zoellick made clear that we “need coordinated global action to restore our oceans to health.  Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up.”  We couldn't agree more. Read More »

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Obama Administration Considers Moving NOAA to Department of Interior

Today, the Obama Administration announced plans to consolidate parts of the federal government, which may include moving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Department of Interior. With responsibility for managing the largest sovereign ocean territory in the world, NOAA is a critically important agency.  When considering moving NOAA to the U.S. Department of Interior, policy-makers should ensure that the agency’s mission-critical functions, including management of the nation’s fish stocks, are protected and strengthened.

Such a reorganization could have huge implications for the people who work hard at sea catching the fish we like to eat.  I hope we can have a vigorous debate that looks carefully at the costs and benefits of any plan to move NOAA to Interior and make sure that the public, the nation’s fishermen, and the nation’s fish resources would truly benefit from it.

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Congress Supports Catch Shares

Amanda Leland, Vice President, Oceans

Amanda Leland - Vice President, Oceans, EDF

Yesterday, the House and Senate passed a minibus appropriations bill that funds NOAA for the remainder of fiscal year 2012.  Today the President signed the measure into law.

Notably, the bill does not include a misguided measure that would have robbed local fishermen in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico of one of the most effective fishery management options available: catch shares.  The bill also includes $28 million in catch shares funding that will go to support existing catch share fishermen, including those in the Pacific, New England, and Gulf of Mexico.

Opponents had made a last-ditch effort to add this anti-environmental rider onto the must-pass funding bill, but Members of Congress who represent fishermen who operate under catch shares pushed back.  That’s because they know that catch shares aren’t just good for stewarding our marine resources, they’re also good for fishermen.

Just this week, more than 100 New England fishermen sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to reject the “series of increasingly dangerous proposals that truly put the future of our businesses and fisheries at risk.” Read More »

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NOAA Finalizes National Catch Share Policy

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy Director

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy Director

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today released a responsible policy to “encourage well-designed catch share programs to help maintain or rebuild fisheries, and sustain fishermen, communities and vibrant working waterfronts, including the cultural and resource access traditions that have been part of this country since its founding.” EDF applauds this policy because it will restore fisheries and improve fishermen’s lives and livelihoods. 

For too long the government has propped up a failed system of ocean fishery management. Conventional management has resulted in shrinking fishing seasons, fishery closures, and increased waste.  Fishermen are faced with burdensome and ineffective regulations. Because of this today’s fishing jobs are dangerous, part-time, and relatively unstable1, and more than 60 federal fish stocks are classified as overfished or undergoing overfishing. Rebuilt fisheries could increase the dockside value of commercially-caught fish by $2.2B (54% above current value) in the US2.

Catch shares management is the right approach because it improves the conservation of the fishery, drives economic growth, and empowers fishermen to have stable, profitable businesses. Unlike conventional management, which manages the details of how fishermen conduct their business, catch shares provide fishermen with flexibility — allowing them to be more targeted and efficient. This means overfishing ends, wasteful bycatch declines, and revenues increase.  Jobs under well-designed catch shares tend to be full-time, higher-paying, safer and more secure over the short and long terms3.

NOAA views catch share programs as “powerful tools to manage fisheries sustainably and improve their economic performance.”  Catch shares help shift ocean fisheries from an economic drain to a driver of growth and prosperity.  The policy has been in effect in a draft form since December 2009.  Changes to the final policy reflect the thousands of comments received since the draft was released.

The policy is focused on providing support, leadership and resources to fishery management councils, fishermen, and other interested stakeholders in order to maximize the effectiveness, flexibility, and application of catch shares. Specifically the policy will:

  • Reduce technical and administrative impediments to catch shares,
  • Provide expertise and related support to assist the development of new catch share programs,
  • Inform and educate stakeholders of the different options and capabilities of catch share programs, and
  • Coordinate data collection, research and performance of catch shares.

It’s important to note that the policy does not mandate that fisheries adopt catch shares.  Rather, the policy states that ‘[c]ouncils should consider the appropriateness of catch share programs and decide which, if any, sectors may benefit from their use.”

Fishermen might be interested in the following aspects of the policy in particular:

  • Transition support: NOAA has demonstrated leadership in providing support to help fishermen through the transition as fisheries recover biologically and economically under catch shares.  The policy highlights this point.  In addition, NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced an Innovation Fund to help build capacity in catch share fisheries and communities. NOAA’s request to Congress for $54 million for Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations includes funding to help fishermen in the New England and Pacific groundfish fisheries cover costs of new catch share programs. 
  • Other resources: The policy also encourages fishermen and communities to work with NOAA in gaining access to additional resources of the Department of Commerce including the Economic Development Agency and the Small Business Administration
  • Fishery management for recreational fishermen: The policy includes some important guidance and options forward related to recreational fisheries management, both for private anglers and for charter/for-hire fishermen.  This includes encouragement that fishery councils periodically revisit the underlying allocation of fish to each sector, regardless of whether a sector of a fishery is under a catch share or not.

The policy highlights that NOAA “will support Councils in the identification and application of innovative management measures that both promote individual recreational angler fishing access and foster sustainable communities,” but the agency doesn’t advocate the use of catch shares for individual private anglers.  

The policy promotes the important role of the charter boat/for-hire sector to the U.S. economy and recreational access.  Some charter/for-hire captains have expressed interest in developing a catch share program for their sector of the fishery.  NOAA will work with the interested councils and charter fishermen interested in developing pilot catch share programs.

Catch shares work for fishermen and fish populations because they include science-based annual catch limits, accountability measures to ensure compliance with those limits, and effective enforcement. At the same time, catch shares give fishermen greater flexibility for how to run their businesses which improves economic performance.

Catch shares are not a one-size-fits-all management system. They can be designed to fit the needs of individual fisheries, which sets them apart from conventional management. Catch shares have been implemented in about 275 fisheries around the world from New Zealand to Namibia to Norway, in fisheries large and small. There are now 25 catch share programs in the U.S. and more are under development.


1 Redstone Strategy Group, LLC. 2007. Assessing the potential for LAPPs in U.S. fisheries. Report prepared for Environmental Defense, 41 pp., Washington, DC.
2 NOAA. National Catch Share Policy. 2010.
3 Redstone Strategy Group, LLC. 2007. Assessing the potential for LAPPs in U.S. fisheries. Report prepared for Environmental Defense, 41 pp., Washington, DC.

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New Fund to Support Fishermen and Communities in the Transition to Catch Shares

Today the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), a Congressionally-chartered non-profit, announced a new Fisheries Innovation Fund to “support sustainable fisheries in the U.S. by fostering innovation and supporting effective participation of fishermen and fishing communities in the design and implementation of catch share fisheries.”  Grants will focus on capacity building, fishery innovations, and monitoring and evaluation in catch share programs. 

About $2.2 million is expected to be awarded this year.  The pre-proposal process is open through November 30, 2010.  The grants are expected to range from $50,000 to $200,000.  Projects will continue for up to two years and funds will be allocated based on the merits of each proposal.

Check out the announcement for more details, including the on-line pre-proposal application

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Senate Approves Help for Fisheries Impacted by BP Oil Spill

Although the oil spill in the Gulf continues to worsen, there’s a bit of good news for Gulf fishermen and fishing-related businesses.  The Senate last night approved an amendment by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) that would devote $26 million to support fishermen and to improve fisheries science because of the spill. 

The House still has to vote on the measure, so more critical funding could be added before its finalized and sent to the President. Earlier this week EDF signed a letter to Congress and the President with the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and the Gulf Fishermen’s Association that advocated for at least $100 million in funding for direct assistance to adversely affected commercial and recreational fishermen and fishing communities, to improve fisheries science, and to make fisheries more resilient to harm caused by human activities.  Because of the size of this disaster, we see this as just a good start, and we are working to expand the scope and increase the amount over the long-term. 

 The amendment includes $15 million for fisheries disaster assistance, $10 million for stock assessments, and $1 million for a study on the impacts from the spill on the Gulf ecosystem.  Here’s the specific language.

 (1) FISHERIES DISASTER RELIEF.–For an additional amount, in addition to other amounts provided in this Act for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $15,000,000 to be available to provide fisheries disaster relief under section 312 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1861a) related to a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted from the Deepwater Horizon oil discharge.

 (2) EXPANDED STOCK ASSESSMENT OF FISHERIES.–For an additional amount, in addition to other amounts provided in this Act for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $10,000,000 to conduct an expanded stock assessment of the fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. Such expanded stock assessment shall include an assessment of the commercial and recreational catch and biological sampling, observer programs, data management and processing activities, the conduct of assessments, and follow-up evaluations of such fisheries.

 (3) ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IMPACTS STUDY.–For an additional amount, in addition to other amounts provided for the Department of Commerce, $1,000,000 to be available for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the long-term ecosystem service impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil discharge. Such study shall assess long-term costs to the public of lost water filtration, hunting, and fishing (commercial and recreational), and other ecosystem services associated with the Gulf of Mexico.

 IN GENERAL.–Of the amounts appropriated or made available under Division B, Title I of Public Law 111-117 that remain unobligated as of the date of the enactment of this Act under Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $26,000,000 of the amounts appropriated are hereby rescinded.

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