Category Archives: Catch Share Conversations

Brookings Institution hosts discussion on future of U.S. fisheries

Photo credit: Hamilton Project

Photo credit: Hamilton Project

The fishing industry contributes about $90 billion annually to the U.S. economy, which translates to over one and a half million jobs for American workers.

Sustainably managed fisheries have a higher economic value to fishing dependent communities, than those under unsustainable management. Understanding this fact is of paramount importance to ensuring a sustainable and thriving future for both fishermen and fish in the U.S. and globally.

Our work at EDF Oceans is focused on aligning the economic and environmental incentives for fishermen to ensure a sustainable fishing future and we believe that catch shares are an essential tool to achieving this goal.

I was honored to participate in a panel hosted by the Brookings Institute and the Hamilton Project that featured a thoughtful discussion on how to improve the economic prosperity and long-term sustainability of the U.S. fishing industry. To frame the discussion, the Hamilton Project released an economic overview of the U.S. fishing industry, and panelists reviewed and discussed a new paper by economist Christopher Costello of U.C. Santa Barbara which calls for a getting fishermen the socio-economic data they need before making game-changing decisions about management of their fisheries.

The forum opened with remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin who noted that the Hamilton Institute, an economic policy initiative of the Brookings Institution, had never before focused on a specific industry, but chose to do so because of the importance of natural resources in general, and fishing in particular, to the U.S. economy. Dr. Costello was joined by a commercial and charter boat fisherman and representatives from NGOs, including myself.

As you might expect with such a diverse group, a robust discussion followed.  I expressed EDF’s view that there are tremendous benefits to giving fishermen and other stakeholders more information on the socio-economic benefits of catch shares compared with conventional management.

John Pappalardo, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance noted that having more in-depth analysis at the time the New England catch shares program was under consideration would have been helpful. Steve Tomeny, a charter boat operator out of Louisiana, observed that he and other charter boat captains believe catch shares could offer benefits for their sector, similar to those commercial red snapper fishermen have enjoyed – a belief that could be tested by the analysis the Costello paper would require.  While some expressed concerns about finding resources to fund the proposal—especially during a tough economy—others reiterated that the bolstered economic state of sustainably managed fisheries would offset these costs.

Better access to information and continued discourse between fishermen and regulators will continue to produce workable solutions for managing ocean resources. It was clear that all panelists agreed that more socioeconomic data should be provided to fishermen when they are making decisions about their livelihoods.

As Congress is currently considering reauthorizing the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the nation’s fishing law, this discussion comes at an important time. It was a privilege to share the day with former Secretary Rubin and the distinguished panel. It was even better to hear a frank and cordial exchange about the tremendous gains the United States has made in rebuilding fish stocks and creating sustainable fishery management and how we can improve even further.

While there is still work to be done, we applaud the solid foundation for sustainable management that fishermen, fishery managers and other stakeholders have built in recent years. The resounding message from the forum is that Congress needs to continue to carry this progress forward so that the tough sacrifices fishermen have made for conservation will result in a sustainable and economically thriving future for fishing communities.

 

 

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Neuroconservation: Your Brain on Ocean

Roaring Ocean, Oregon Coast. Photo by Charles Seaborn.

The fate of the oceans is now in human hands, yet most of us ocean conservationists don’t know much about why people do things that harm the ocean, or how to motivate behavior that is good for the ocean.  As I note in my book, Heal the Ocean, the re-connection of people to the sea will be key to pervasive conservation and intelligent resource use.  But how can we do that?

I recently had the opportunity to learn about how humans relate to the ocean by moderating the Blue Mind: Your Brain on Ocean panel of scientists, futurists and communicators as part of the inaugural Bay Area Science Festival. We also explored how conservationists might be able to apply the insights of neuroscience, behavioral science, and psychology to improve conservation strategies and outcomes.

BLUEMiND Graphic from Inaugural Summit, June, 2011.

The panel line-up included marine biologist and research associate at the California  Academy of Sciences, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, who also has an economics degree from Duke University, and hybrid and communications expert Sarah Kornfeld. “J.”, as Dr. Nichols likes to be called, and Sarah hosted a groundbreaking conference in June at the Academy of Sciences called BLUEMiND to explore the response of the human brain to the ocean. Read More »

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Catch Share Conversations: Comparing Monitoring Systems in U.S. Catch Share Fisheries

In closing this round of Catch Share Conversations on monitoring, which we started last week, we compare and contrast monitoring systems in a number of US catch share fisheries.  Each of these fisheries have uniquely tailored monitoring approaches to accommodate the fishery’s goals and characteristics.  The attached chart provides a snapshot of the monitoring programs employed by catch share fisheries in the United States and provides an opportunity to compare and contrast across different fisheries.

For example, the utilization of monitoring options to meet the management demands of these fisheries yields creative monitoring solutions from the cage-tagging system used by the surf clam/ocean quahog fishery to the multipart dockside and at-sea observer program applied by the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program.  The chart also includes comparative information such as average vessel length, number of participating vessels, gear type, programs costs, funding sources and more.

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Catch Share Conversations: Monitoring Systems Case Studies

Teal basket full of red snapper

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

Throughout this week in our Catch Share Conversations series, we have explored the importance of monitoring, and discussed best practices of monitoring systems. Today, we present two case studies—British Columbia Groundfish and Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish– that highlight the diversity of fisheries and accompanying monitoring systems.  These distinctly different examples show how monitoring systems reflect the unique goals and characteristics of a fishery and how two different fisheries design monitoring programs to meet their needs. 

The British Columbia Groundfish fishery is a multispecies fishery with a fleet that employs a wide range of gear types. It employs one of the most sophisticated monitoring systems in the world, including hail in/hail out, 100 percent dockside coverage, 100 percent at-sea monitoring, including observers for trawl vessels, and electronic video monitoring for hook & line and trap vessels.

The Gulf of Mexico Reef fish fishery is a multispecies fishery. The fishery uses logbooks, partial at-sea monitoring, dockside coverage, electronic reporting, VMS and hail in/hail out monitoring techniques to reach program goals. 

Read the complete fact sheets for more details on the British Columbia Groundfish and Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish monitoring systems.

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Guiding Principles for Development of Effective Monitoring Programs

The Guiding Principles for Development of Effective Monitoring Programs, summarized in our Catch Share Conversations fact sheet, is the result of two workshops convened by MRAG Americas and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in 2010.  The Guiding principles summarize lessons from around the world and are intended to provide fishery managers and stakeholders with guidance on the planning, design, implementation and improvement of monitoring programs.  The Guiding Principles should be a point of departure, and recognize the individuality of each fishery.  They draw upon the expertise of over two dozen national and international monitoring experts, including national and international government employees, fishing industry representatives, and monitoring company employees.  By outlining key components to consider and providing concise recommendations, the Guiding Principles can expedite and improve the design of monitoring programs. Read the entire document here.

Monitoring Principles

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Catch Share Conversations: Catch Shares and Monitoring Ensure Effective Management

Monitoring is an essential component of effective and successful fisheries management. Reliable monitoring and reporting can support and improve the management of a fishery by providing verifiable information on fishing activities and assessing the performance and success of fisheries management plans.  Developing an effective monitoring program can be complex and many programs evolve over time. 

Catch share fisheries tend to have robust monitoring programs and the transition to catch share management offers the opportunity to design an effective monitoring system. In the collection of Catch Share Conversations being presented this week on EDFish, we summarize common monitoring approaches, discuss how monitoring systems provide incentives for participants, offer case studies of existing monitoring programs, and present Guiding Principles for the development and implementation of a monitoring system.

Read our full fact sheet on how catch shares and monitoring ensure effective fisheries management.

Monitoring Data Collection Techniques Chart

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Catch Share Conversations: The Atlantic Red Crab Fishery

Red crabs in crates

Red crab.

My last post on EDFish described a day I spent in the tidal creeks of South Carolina fishing for blue crabs with local waterman Fred Dockery.  Today, I’d like to share some valuable insights gleaned from a very different crab fishery.

The deep-sea Atlantic red crab fishery had long escaped the attention of many stakeholders in New England owing to its comparatively small fleet and modest landings relative to larger scale cousins like the sea scallop, groundfish and lobster fisheries. Indeed, the fishery did not even have a management plan until 2002. However, last fall, red crab assumed an unexpected level of attention in response to advice on acceptable biological catch (ABC) from the New England Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC, on which I sit) that many deemed to be too low and likely to impose excessive socio-economic hardships. 

Fortunately, the months since the September 2009 Council meeting where the SSC first delivered its red crab ABC saw scientists, managers and the industry take the steps needed to generate better catch advice. Efforts made to generate better catch advice were consistent with sound scientific and fishery management process, thus turning a tense controversy into a valuable example of how to do things better. 

Industry and SSC members worked directly with the red crab Plan Development Team to expand and clarify the science underpinning the ABC.  Also, fellow committee member Dr. Dan Georgianna and I visited the red crab unloading and processing facility in New Bedford just before the March 2010 SSC meeting at which we revisited the red crab ABC.  Our visit aimed to help us learn more about the fishery and its operations to better inform our advice to the Council on both immediate issues and others that might arise down the track, and to help the industry better understand SSC operations and rationale.  The result of those scientific and outreach efforts was an improved analysis and better understanding that gave the SSC more confidence in setting a higher catch limit for 2010 and beyond.

Beyond its constructive participation in the management process, the red crab fishery illustrates the value of cooperative research and innovative business planning in building a more robust and sustainable business model, one that could be enhanced by conversion to catch shares.  We discuss the red crab fishery and its future potential in more detail in the newest edition of CSC – Red Crab Dec 2010 from the EDF Catch Share Design Center.

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Catch Share Design Manual and Online Design Center Provide Guidance for Fishery Managers and Fishermen

Kate Bonzon, EDF Director of Design Services

Kate Bonzon, EDF Director of Design Services

Kate Bonzon leads Catch Share Design Services at EDF and authored the Catch Share Design Manual along with her team, Karly McIlwain, Kent C. Strauss, and Tonya Van Leuvan.

Overfishing is the biggest driver of declining fisheries globally, and conventional fishery management approaches have failed to correct this. Conventional management has led to unsafe derby-style fishing, increasingly shrinking fishing seasons, and low market prices all while fish populations in the ocean continue to decline.

We need a different approach.

Catch share management is a solution to overfishing that keeps fishermen on the water and fishing as fish resources recover. Under catch share management, managers establish a scientifically-set, fishery-wide catch limit; assign portions of the catch, or shares, to individuals or groups of fishermen; and hold them directly accountable to stay within the catch limit.

Increasingly, fishery managers and fishermen are looking to catch shares as a locally-designed solution to failed fisheries management (about 275 programs already exist worldwide in fisheries large and small). Identifying the biological, economic and social goals of a fishery and incorporating design elements to meet these goals is critical to the program’s success for fishermen, fishing communities and the resource. As fishery managers and fishermen go through the design process, they have a flexible array of options from which to choose.

But, understanding what options exist and what process works for catch share design has been a key challenge in program development. 

Now there’s a dynamic new tool and guide to help improve understanding of catch share programs around the world: the Catch Share Design Center.  The Design Center includes several new tools and resources:

  • The Catch Share Design Manual, which is the first-ever comprehensive overview and roadmap through the catch share design process, drawing on hundreds of fisheries in over 30 countries and expertise from over 60 fishery experts from around the world.  The Design Manual is not prescriptive, but rather, poses a series of questions and highlights frequently used approaches from around the world.  It describes a 7-Step process to guide and inform the design of catch shares for commercial fisheries, including four in-depth case studies of fisheries that have implemented catch shares. The case studies provide comprehensive, real-life examples of the design Steps and decisions in action.
  • The global database of catch share fisheries allows users to explore and understand the design elements and characteristics for 275 catch share programs worldwide. The database is dynamic, being updated regularly, including with information from viewers or other experts.
  • The directory of resources serves as a forum for catch share experts and businesses to connect with fishery managers and fishermen engaged in catch share design and implementation.
  • Go Fish, No Fish is a game-oriented teaching tool that illustrates the differences in conventional fishery management and catch shares.

The Catch Share Design Center seeks to provide cutting-edge information and tools to fishery managers, fishermen and others in order to advance the development and implementation of catch share programs.  We welcome your participation in this endeavor.

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