The second national electronic monitoring workshop was held in Seattle, Washington late last year. Hosted by NOAA Fisheries, the goal was to bring together fisheries monitoring and management experts to share what’s working in EM implementation projects, what’s not, and to develop solutions and paths forward.
The workshop was also a celebration of significant progress taking place. Since the first national workshop held in January 2014, there has been a large scale EM regulatory program implemented in the Atlantic HMS fishery and regulations authorizing EM programs developed through Regional exempted fishing permit and cooperative research projects are scheduled for implementation in 2017 and 2018 in several different fisheries around the country.
These new programs all provide examples of one or more ‘best practices’ for EM, such as user-centered design approaches, clear goals established at the outset, and consistent collaboration among stakeholders. Read More »
One of the keys to effective fisheries management in the 21st century is accountability. Accountability requires having timely and accurate data. Electronic monitoring (EM) is gaining momentum in U.S. fisheries and abroad as an efficient means of meeting accountability requirements. Yet the ‘recipe’ for implementation of EM has not been perfected, and the price tag – and who pays – is not always clear. These challenges partly explain why the rate of uptake has been painfully slow, even as industry increasingly bears the brunt of human observer costs without any cheaper alternatives.
Recognizing the need to better understand the costs associated with EM, EDF’s Pacific team engaged a group of experts – Dr. Gil Sylvia, Dr. Michael Harte and Dr. Chris Cusack of Oregon State University – to analyze the costs of fishery monitoring systems such as EM and traditional At-Sea Observers (ASO). The goal of this research is to describe the state of EM in U.S. fisheries with both agency and industry stakeholders to better enable them to compare costs and tradeoffs between EM and ASO programs. If monitoring costs go down, profitability goes up, and everyone wins. Read More »
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.
Brad’s recognition as a Champion of Change is an acknowledgement of the tough times that he and many other West Coast fishermen endured as their fishery failed and they struggled to bring it back. Brad often recalls when it hit rock bottom, and his wife suggested one day that maybe it was time to sell their boat. “Honey, I said to her, there’s nobody to sell the boat to!” remembers Brad. “You see, nobody wanted to buy the boats, because they couldn’t see a future for the fishery. It was a rough, rough time for everyone involved.”
From that point forward Brad put his shoulder to the wheel, attending every meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council for years, helping to hammer out the framework for a catch share fishery management program. That program – which launched in January of 2011 – allocated specific annual quota amounts to trawl fisherman based on their catch history, eliminated the “race for fish” culture of the groundfish fleet, dramatically reduced bycatch, and ushered in a new era of accountability and cooperation among fishermen and regulators. Read More »
In recent years, the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery has featured both a tremendous recovery and ongoing controversy. Through the stakeholder-driven process outlined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (appointed by Governors from all of the Gulf States) implemented a successful reform of the commercial sector of the red snapper fishery. One of the results has been a near tripling in the fishing quotas for both the recreational and commercial sectors in a matter of years. Despite this dramatic quota increase, federal recreational fishing seasons have shortened. The Council is currently considering proposals to reform and manage the recreational sector to maximize access.
At the same time, some resource users have sought federal legislation exempting the fishery from the very system that helped the red snapper population rebound. Specifically, H.R. 3094 proposes to transfer management for Gulf of Mexico red snapper to a new authority made up of only the directors of the Gulf state fish and wildlife agencies (who already maintain a vote on the current fishery management council). We oppose this approach because it could result in overfishing and make decision-making much less transparent, among other concerns. The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in June despite bipartisan concerns that it would undermine the conservation provisions of the MSA, and only after it was modified to prohibit any federal funds from being used by the new management authority. As a result, the Gulf States would have to find the resources to fund the extra work.
“The best way to get something done is to tell a fisherman it can’t be done.”
– Bob Dooley, veteran fisherman and industry leader
With support from a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant and the Packard Foundation, EDF’s Pacific team joined with an all-star Steering Committee this month to convene a Gear Modification Workshop in Newport, Oregon. More than 70 fishermen from the West Coast and Alaska, along with scientists, net manufacturers, fishery managers, electronics experts, NGO representatives and others came together for two very enjoyable days of intensive information sharing.
The West Coast groundfish trawl fishery is a laboratory of gear innovation these days because the catch share management system requires fishermen to account for every fish caught. Having operated under catch share systems for many years, Alaska fishermen and researchers brought their experiences to bear. Since unwanted or undersized fish count against a fisherman’s overall quota, the incentive to “fish clean” is much higher than in less-accountable fisheries. Fishermen are deploying underwater cameras and working with net manufacturers to design nets that fish more selectively, reduce bottom impact and save on fuel costs. Likewise, Alaska fishermen and researchers have long been leaders in gear innovation, and they brought their perspectives and expertise to share with their West Coast counterparts.