Author Archives: Heather Paffe

How a growing partnership is reducing overfishing in Belize and beyond

fisherman takes meat out of a conch shell

Gumercindo Cano, a Managed Access fisherman, takes the meat out of a conch shell
Photo credit: Heather Paffe

Fishing in the developing tropics looks very different from fishing in the United States. It’s easy to forget that millions of people around the world rely on wild fish for their daily protein and survival, rather than being able to purchase it from a grocery store. This is the case in the countries where EDF will work in partnership with Rare and University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) on our ‘Fish Forever’ project. Fish Forever will focus on work with communities in the developing tropics to reduce overfishing and implement new guidelines that will allow fisheries to recover and more consistently provide the nutrition that so many depend upon.  Part of that work will establish territorial user rights in fisheries (TURFs – called Managed Access in Belize), coupled with no-take reserves (replenishment zones/Marine Protected Areas) to advance sustainable fisheries, empower fishermen and bring those solutions to scale.

I recently returned from a governance committee trip to Belize with our partners, Brett Jenks, President of Rare, and Steve Gaines, Dean of UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and principal investigator for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. This trip was a vital way to connect with the community and government on the ground in Belize and understand the skills that each member of the partnership brings to the table. Read More »

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Now In Your H-E-B, Gulf Wild™ Seafood

Gulf Wild™ Red Snapper and Grouper

Photo courtesy of Gulf Wild™

It wasn’t that long ago that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery was on the brink of collapse.  The fishermen were stuck in a race-for-fish that was both dangerous and expensive.

Fishermen were going out of business or barely hanging on, and the red snapper population was in serious trouble.  The out-dated fishery management system wasn’t working, and consumers could only count on getting fresh, local snapper during a brief season every year. That was until a group of commercial fishermen and EDF came together to find a solution.

That solution – the red snapper catch share program – began in 2007.  Because this program proved successful almost immediately, fishermen were able to expand the program to include grouper and tilefish in 2010.  This has helped to make commercial fishing a viable industry again, consumers are able to get fish they love year-round, the amount of wasted fish has dramatically decreased, and once depleted populations are steadily rebuilding. Read More »

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Magistrate Judge Finds Gulf of Mexico Grouper and Tilefish IFQ Legal

EDF is pleased with the report and recommendations made by a magistrate judge that upholds the validity of Amendment 29.  We agree that the Council and NOAA properly implemented the program, and experience has shown that it is working the way it was intended.  The IFQ has proven to be tremendously valuable to improving the conservation and management of the fishery.  We hope that this ruling marks the end of this case.  But if not, we will continue to defend the IFQ.
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Collaboration with Industry is Crucial to Protect Fish and Put Fishermen Back on the Water

Heather Paffe, Regional Director, Gulf of Mexico and Southeast

Heather Paffe, Regional Director, Gulf of Mexico and Southeast - EDF Oceans

In many fisheries, the rules for recreational fishing are tightened every year. This is bad for charter, tackle and other businesses; it keeps anglers off the water and it threatens the U.S.’s long-standing fishing heritage.

It’s clear that current fishing rules aren’t working.  EDF believes that collaboration between conservationists, fishermen, and managers is the best way to find a new management approach that works to protect fish – so that they’re more plentiful in the future – and put fishermen back on the water. If things don’t change, the federal government will continue to impose more rules, such as widespread closures.

Last week EDF hosted a collaborative workshop with for-hire (charter) fishermen from across the country to understand how their fishery management can be improved in order to truly recover popular fisheries.  Understanding if catch shares could work for for-hire fisheries was an important part of this discussion.  This workshop is one among many in which EDF has reached out to fishermen to better understand their concerns and discuss potential solutions that work to improve fishermen’s access and catches as well as recover fish populations.  Sportsmen already carry a well-known conservation ethic, which will help guide future progress.

Future access for responsible recreational fishing is threatened due to flawed federal management practices and a “business as usual” approach will only accelerate this trend. We can and should advance innovative reforms that build off the existing conservation ethic of sustainability through stewardship that our nation’s sportsmen embody. It all begins by starting the conversation.

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As oil-related fishery closures quickly grow, EDF supports Senator Nelson’s Florida fishery disaster designation request

NOAA 6/2/10 Fishery Closure Map

Click the map to learn more about the current fishery closure covering 37% of the Gulf (6/2/10).

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) requested a fishery disaster designation for the state of Florida to assist fishermen, their families, and associated businesses who are feeling the impacts of the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a closure of 37% of federal fishing waters, many along the coast of Florida. Just yesterday, 31% of the Gulf was closed and on Monday 26% was closed. These extensive and growing closures are already impacting the Gulf’s multi-billion dollar fishing and tourist industries.

EDF supports Senator Nelson’s request, which will provide federal assistance to affected Florida fishermen and communities, and encourages U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to make this designation.

On May 24, the Department of Commerce made a disaster designation for Gulf of Mexico fisheries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

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Sportfishing, Conservation Groups Suggest Oil Spill Spending Priorities for Administration and Congress

Thirteen groups signed letters today to both the Administration and Congressional Appropriators in response to the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The letters present fishery management and economic-related recommendations for broadening the scope of and increasing the amount of funding in the spending package proposed on May 12 by President Obama.

The groups' recommendations cover fishery management, including stock assessments, improvements to fishery data collection and monitoring, and cooperative research, so that fishery managers will have the most accurate and timely information to assess the impacts of the spill. The groups also recommend direct economic relief for recreational fishing businesses and other fishing-related businesses.

Sign-on letter participants:

  • American Sportfishing Association
  • Berkley Conservation Institute
  • The Billfish Foundation
  • Bonefish and Tarpon Trust
  • Center for Coastal Conservation
  • Coastal Conservation Association
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • International Game Fish Association
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • The Ocean Conservancy
  • Oceana
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

EDF made a complementary request to Congress and the President earlier this week for at least $100 million to help fishing communities recover from the spill.

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