Fishermen and Chefs United: Keep Catch Shares On The Table

Left to Right: EDF National Policy Specialist Melissa Carey, Former Senator Slade Gorton III, Former Representative  Robin Tallon & Representative Chellie Pingree.
Photo Credit: David Hills

This week more than 100 fishermen, chefs and seafood distributors from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress about sustainable fishing and the need to keep catch shares in the tool box for our nation’s fisheries managers.

Recently, some in Congress have attempted to take catch shares off the table for fishery managers; limiting regional councils’ ability to make the best decision for their fishermen.

Catch shares help eliminate overfishing and restore fish stocks by dividing the total scientifically approved allowable catch among the fishermen and ending short seasons and derbies. Catch shares have been proven to recover fish populations, increase compliance with catch limits, reduce waste, stabilize revenue and increase business efficiency.

In more than 115 meetings, the fishermen and chefs stood together to make it clear that catch shares are working, they are making American fisheries more sustainable and they have had positive impacts not only on fishermen, but the seafood industry. Read More »

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European Fisheries on the Road to Recovery

A major milestone for the recovery of European fisheries was passed this week when the European Parliament approved a much-needed reform to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by a great majority (502-to-137).

The proposed reforms set strong maximum sustainable yield (MSY) targets—the catch level that can be safely taken each year to maintain the fish population size at maximum productivity. The goal of setting these targets is to allow fish stocks to recover by 2020 at the latest, and to maintain all recovered stocks at this level. Fishing vessels will also be required to land all catches; different fisheries will phase in this change over the coming years, bringing to a halt the wasteful practice of discarding fish. The reforms also call for science based decision making as a foundation for long-term fisheries management planning. And member states will be free to use transferable fishing concessions (TFCs)—known in the United States as “catch shares” – to meet the sustainability goals of the reformed policy. With TFCs European fisheries managers will be better able to reduce discards, improve fishing safety and profitability, and enhance compliance. Read More »

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Ocean Conservation Should not be a Partisan Issue

Stetson Bank Coral and Sponges

Stetson Bank Coral and Sponges. Photo credit: Frank and Joyce Burek

No matter what happens at the polls today, the ocean and the fish that live in it will still require our attention and conservation efforts. With all the politics and rhetoric circulating throughout the media, the fact that oceans and other vital ecosystems provide invaluable resources and benefits to the billions of people on this planet tends to go unnoticed. Even worse, there is a tendency to paint the environment as a partisan issue, when regardless of your political beliefs—ensuring we have a healthy natural world is essential to your survival and happiness for the future.

The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the world’s water. An estimated 20,000 species of marine fish swim beneath the largely unexplored waters, along with complex plant and animal life including coral reefs, sea grasses, whales and sharks. Billions of people globally depend on fish as their primary source of protein, and the economic value of fishing for their livelihood. Many of these people live in poor, undeveloped countries and will rely more heavily on the ocean as populations increase and global warming impacts their ability to cultivate food on land. The reality of our global dependence on the ecosystem services that the ocean provides becomes more evident with studies such one which recently came out in Science, citing that 80% of the world’s un-assessed fisheries are in worse shape than previously thought. But there is hope if we act now to align the right incentives and increase the economic value of fisheries, while putting fishermen at the forefront of conservation.  Ensuring that the world’s fish stocks are replenished is a human imperative, not a political talking point. Read More »

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Accumulation Limits a Critical Component of Catch Shares to Provide Benefits to Fishing Families and Communities

Small boatCatch shares, a fishery management system that gives fishermen a secure share of the catch in exchange for increased monitoring and greater accountability, represent a substantial change from the way U.S. fisheries have been managed in the past.

Well-designed catch shares – particularly when they include accumulation limits – can provide safeguards for small boat fishermen, their families, and their communities. Because these are the people who are hurt most when fisheries collapse, EDF believes it is imperative to ensure that management programs take the needs of both fish and fishermen into account.  Catch shares are uniquely suited to do so in a number of ways that conventional fishery management plans could not.

For example, conventional fishery management plans typically call for shortened seasons and even closures when overfishing or other factors deplete stocks. This unpredictability of management can endanger smaller operators more than bigger ones, since they may not have the flexibility to weather the changes.  Because catch shares usually allow fishermen to operate all year long, they provide far greater job stability for fishermen, who know in advance how much fish they can catch during the season and what their needs will be at any given time. They can spread their catch out over the year, avoiding the gluts that occur when everyone brings in their catch at once and timing trips to maximize the price they’ll earn for that catch. Some fishermen are working directly with processors so they are fishing for species that are most sought-after at the most desirable times, earning the highest price per fish. Read More »

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Fishing Continues to Top Deadliest Job List

Fishing Fatalities and Most Hazardous Fisheries in US

Source: Jennifer Lincoln, NIOSH

Commercial fishing remains the deadliest job in America, according to data released by the Department of Labor today. New statistics about on-the-job deaths in 2011 show that fishermen continue to have a higher chance of dying while working compared with those in other occupations.

Their fatality rate per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers was 34.6 times the average rate for U.S. workers in 2011.

Fishing is inherently dangerous but it’s still important to look at the several ways to make it safer. Inspections, the use of safety gear and training all make a difference. So can the way fishing regulations attempt to address overfishing.

Regulators often unintentionally create a race for the fish by setting short seasons, giving boats just a limited allocation of days to be on the water, or shutting down fishing altogether with emergency closures. Under those circumstances, sitting out bad weather or letting exhausted crews come ashore is harder to do. Read More »

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