Small-scale coastal fisheries are central to the health of the ocean, livelihood, poverty alleviation and food security for millions around the world, but today many of them are severely threatened by chronic overfishing.
As the population increases and demand for seafood continues to rise, fishers harvest more, resulting in declining fish populations. Open access fishing, in which anyone can fish anywhere, as much as they can, is at the root of the overfishing problem.
As more and more people harvest the fish, no one is held responsible for making sure the fish don’t run out. Instead, fishers try to catch as much fish as possible, as quickly as possible, because they believe that if they don’t, someone else will get there first.
That’s why EDF is working with small-scale fishers and communities to implement fisheries management programs that rewards sustainable fishing practices. Read More »
[Video credit: Archipelago, NMFS and Frank Mirarchi- FV Barbara Peters]
Collecting timely, accurate and complete information from fishing vessels is fundamental to successful fisheries management. There is an important nexus between the quantity and quality of data collected by monitoring programs that are used for fisheries science and management that makes it more credible to industry and other stakeholders.
EDF continues to work to improve the performance of New England groundfish sectors by supporting the design and implementation of a cost-effective and comprehensive monitoring program that incorporates the use of electronic monitoring (EM). The current crisis facing the groundfish fishery with low stock abundance and resulting quota cuts, and high uncertainty of stock assessments, highlights the need to produce reliable fisheries information. Read More »
On November 9 the New England groundfish industry will have an opportunity to discuss the state of fishery science with scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The workshop in Portsmouth, NH responds to criticism generated by abrupt changes in scientific evaluations of the status of fish stocks that support fishing communities from Maine to New Jersey. The goal of the meeting is to improve assessments by sharing knowledge among fishermen and scientists.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) supports greater involvement of fishermen in the stock assessment process and encourages fishermen to work with scientists to ensure that their knowledge and experience add to our understanding of these valuable resources. EDF has developed recommendations aimed at producing the most dependable stock assessments possible. The accumulated knowledge of the fishing industry can contribute to improved stock assessments, and greater industry participation can increase confidence in fishery science.
The first priority is to expand the fleet of potential survey vessels by augmenting surveys by government boats with more extensive surveys using commercial fishing vessels. We believe this is the single most important step that can be taken to improve the reliability of stock assessments and confidence in those assessments. Read More »
Being a conscientious seafood lover is difficult today. What is sustainable? What is not? We wrote an op-ed published in the Boston Globe yesterday that we hope will help clarify the right choices to make in order to support both local fishermen and fish stocks. Given the ups and downs of fish populations, what matters most is having a management system in place that puts the fishery on a path to long term stability. Read the op-ed.
Marking a major shift in the public debate over the groundfish fishery in New England, 108 fishermen from the five coastal New England states — representing all sizes of operations and 178 boats — have submitted a letter to their Members of Congress saying that a vocal minority in the industry has for too long dominated the debate over Sector management. This letter says that, in fact, there are many fishermen that want their members of Congress to support stability, profitability and flexibility for their fishery, rather than a return to the “chaos” of the previous management approach.
“A few voices calling for the overturn of the entire Sector system have been amplified in the media, and we understand that our elected officials are trying to respond to their constituents’ concerns,” the groups wrote in a letter addressed to “New England’s Senators and Congressmen.”
“Unfortunately,” the letter states, this has led to a series of increasingly dangerous proposals that truly put the future of our businesses and fisheries at risk. Perhaps too many of us in the active industry have been too busy making the new system work to consistently weigh in. This letter is our attempt to rectify that situation.”
The letter was signed by 108 fishermen affiliated with the Associated Fisheries of Maine; Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association; Midcoast Fishermen’s Association; Northeast Seafood Coalition; and Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association. Read More »
Emilie Litsinger, EDF Oceans NE Groundfish Project Manager
A report by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released Wednesday highlights results of the first year of the groundfish sector management program in New England. The dramatic management shift appears to be helping the fishery turn the corner to a more economically and environmentally sustainable fishery.
With the first full year of operation under sectors now complete, results of the program’s performance are encouraging. Sector fishermen stayed within their allowed catch levels, groundfish revenues were essentially stable, overall revenues were up, fishermen received higher prices for fish, and the amount of wasted fish dumped overboard was substantially reduced.
The report highlights a number of continuing trends. For example, the number of active groundfish vessels has been declining for over a decade. The eight percent decline in the 2010 fishing year was similar to the decline from 2007 to 2009. Read More »