Despite major challenges facing our oceans, fishing communities around the world can be thriving and abounding in fish within our lifetimes. Improving management and practices can lead to healthier oceans that in turn support more fish in the water, more food for communities and improved livelihoods for fishermen.
We are optimistic that this brighter future is within reach.
Here are 5 reasons why:
The Tremendous Potential of Our Oceans: Our oceans can support more harvests, more profits and more fish biomass in the water if managed sustainably. New research undertaken with our partners at the University of California – Santa Barbara and the University of Washington shows we can have more fish in the water, more fish to feed a growing planet and more money to support the world’s fishing communities in our lifetimes under a management system of improved policies and practices. The research shows that the most gains can come from establishing secure fishing rights, which ends the desperate race to overfish, and empowers fishing communities to be stewards of their resource. Learn more about our global work.
Belize Adopts Fishing Rights, Nationwide: In June 2016, Belize made history by becoming the first country in the world to adopt a national, multispecies secure fishing rights program for small-scale fisheries. This groundbreaking policy came after years of struggling to address illegal fishing and the threat of overfishing in Belize. In order to protect the vital barrier reef ecosystem along with the livelihoods of local fishermen and the food security for all Belizeans, two pilot sites were launched in July 2011 to explore secure fishing rights options. The results were incredible. Fishermen enjoyed better catches and decreases in illegal fishing activity, all while reef fish populations started to recover. The pilot programs were so successful that fishing communities worked to get “Managed Access” implemented nationwide. Learn more about this historic milestone.
Celebrating 12 fish that are delicious and sustainable: Knowing which fish are good sustainable choices can sometimes be difficult, even for the most informed fish buyers. That’s why the Eat These Fish Campaign highlights twelve US fish species that have come back from the brink and are ready for menus and plates all over the country. The campaign aims to raise awareness and appreciation for the comeback of U.S. fisheries and many underutilized fish in order to help fishermen, energize chefs and strengthen the supply chain for sustainable seafood. The campaign has been a great success with events in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and beyond that bring together fishermen, chefs and others across the seafood industry. Learn more about the Eat These Fish Campaign.
Fishing Rights in Sweden’s Demersal Fishery:In 2013, the countries bordering the Skagerrak in the North Sea (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) discussed implementing a ban on throwing, or “discarding” fish overboard when they caught too many fish or fish that were too small. This ban, or “landing obligation,” became a cornerstone of the reformed EU’s Common Fisheries Policy which was finalized in 2014. This policy created controversy in Sweden because their collective quota allocation system uses weekly allowances, meaning the implementation of the landing obligation could cause the shutdown of the entire fleet if a quota for one species is exhausted. It was clear that a new management system was needed. Thanks to key leaders in the Swedish fishery, Swedish fishermen were able to come together to identify challenges and recommend new management options. The new system—which most likely will be implemented in January 2017—will enable fishermen to swap quotas so they can balance their catches with their quotas, avoiding shutdowns for the country’s most important fisheries in 2017. Learn more about our work in Sweden.
The State of US Fisheries is Strong: We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to fisheries management in the United States. This year’s NOAA Status of Stock Report confirmed that the management reforms implemented over the last decade are delivering remarkable results across the country. For example, it showed that the Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI) – the composite index that tracks the health of key commercial and recreational stocks that account for 85% of total catch – is continuing to increase and hit an all-time high in 2015. These promising numbers are a result of fishermen, managers and conservationists working to end unsustainable management and implement reforms that incentivize conservation. Find out more about the positive state of U.S. fisheries.
Picture the world’s oceans once again abounding in fish, as part of a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem that supplies people with an increasing amount of protein rich food.
This can be the future. Within our lifetimes, improved fishing policies and practices can help create much healthier oceans that support more fish, feed more people, and improve livelihoods. These outcomes go hand in hand, because a healthier, more resilient ocean is also one that can support larger harvests.
This World Fisheries Day, we are optimistic that despite challenges facing fisheries, there is a bright future for both fish populations, and the people who depend on them.
Here are 5 progress points from 2015 that give us hope:
Global oceans can yield more fish, more food, and more prosperity: At the World Oceans Summit in June, we previewed a bio-economic model that shows a triple win for fisheries with smarter management. Our preliminary results show that global fisheries, if managed sustainably, could yield 23% more wild fish, generate 315% more profits, and boost the amount of fish left in the water for conservation by 112%. If we get fishing right, we can reverse the threats facing fisheries and coastal communities within our lifetimes. Read more here.
Photo credits: Noel Lopez Fernandez, Jason Houston, Carlos Aguilera
Today, fisheries provide just a fraction of their potential in terms of food and income. Although many threats, including climate change and habitat loss, contribute to the declining health of the oceans, overfishing remains the leading cause of fishery depletion worldwide. Globally, 40% of fisheries are in deep trouble and outdated management is squandering more than 50 billion dollars in potential income.
The good news is that by tackling overfishing, we can unleash the oceans’ natural resilience and achieve a dramatic recovery in fish populations.
We are making progress every day transitioning more fisheries to sustainable management policies and practices that help create much healthier oceans that support more fish, feed more people and improve livelihoods. These outcomes go hand in hand, because a healthier, more resilient ocean is also one that can support larger harvests. Read More »
American fishermen are 23 times more likely than the average American worker to die on the job.
That’s a shockingly high number, and it might not surprise you if you’ve watched Deadliest Catch. Amazingly, it’s better than it used to be, and a policy that EDF has championed for a decade has played a significant role.
The on-the-job death rate comes from the Department of Labor’s annual review of workplace fatalities. Each year, the DOL analyzes all on-the-job fatalities (in actual deaths and deaths per 100,000 jobs), and for years, fishermen have held the first or second highest fatality rate. What this year’s numbers don’t show, however, is how some fisheries are making the industry a lot less deadly.
Fishermen face risks from treacherous weather conditions and heavy equipment. In some fisheries, however, the rules that govern when and where they fish actually encourage risky decisions. When fishermen are subjected to rules that limit when they can fish, they find themselves in a race against the clock, the competition, and the weather. Read More »
Today EDF proudly announced its new sustainable seafood partnership with Texas retail giant H-E-B, a cornerstone of communities across Texas for more than 100 years. One of the nation's largest independently owned food retailers with annual sales exceeding $20 billion, they operate more than 350 H-E-B and Central Market stores across the state.
The new partnership builds on H-E-B’s longstanding dedication to healthy oceans, healthy seafood and healthy Gulf fishing communities, and positions EDF as its primary sustainability advisor for all fresh, frozen and prepared fish offerings (work will begin on shelf stable seafood later this year). H-E-B’s updated sourcing policy outlines nine ways that they are committed to providing the freshest, safest, and most sustainable seafood. Read More »
In partnership with the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU), and in collaboration with the 50in10 initiative, EDF recently released a report entitled Towards Investment in Sustainable Fisheries: A Framework for Financing the Transition. It outlines a framework for developing fisheries transition projects which achieve sustainability by attracting and leveraging global finance. Intended to inform and inspire fishermen, project developers and other oceans stakeholders, this report looks to empower fishing communities by meeting the financial needs of transitioning to sustainable fisheries.
This is a very timely contribution considering that the fisheries sector and European Union (EU) Member States are currently in the process of implementing the newly reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The many management challenges, particularly those related to environmental objectives are evident. However, with the right incentives in place, the transition towards more sustainable resource use in EU waters can offer promising opportunities. Read More »