EDFish

A conservation comeback is delivering big returns on the West Coast

 

By Shems Jud and Matt Tinning

Win-win outcomes, delivering results for the economy and the environment, can feel few and far between these days. But you don’t have to look further than the West Coast’s biggest fishery to see a remarkable example of mutually-beneficial progress. An announcement this week that a strong recovery in the fishery would now permit dramatic increases in harvest levels was celebrated by fishermen and conservationists alike, and provided further proof that a healthy ecosystem can go hand-in-hand with a profitable fishing industry and thriving coastal communities.

The Pacific groundfish fishery harvests petrale sole, lingcod, a number of rockfish varieties and a whole host of other species. It has seen some bleak times over the years, pushed to the brink of collapse and declared a federal disaster in 2000 as a result of profound management failures. Dramatic increases in harvest limits announced for the fishery this week are another key milestone in a hard-won turnaround. The most significant changes to harvest specifications are for rebuilt stocks like bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch as well as for stocks with improved assessments such as lingcod, California scorpionfish, and yelloweye rockfish. NOAA estimates that harvest level increases will create 900 new jobs and $60 million in additional income for West Coast communities in 2019 alone.   Read More »

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Five reasons for hope on World Fisheries Day 2018

You may not have it on your calendar – but today is World Fisheries Day – a moment to celebrate the incredible bounty that we receive from the sea. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and reflect on where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. As we look back over the past year, the EDF Oceans team has been struck by how much the global oceans community has accomplished. And we’re increasingly optimistic and energized about the future health and resilience of our oceans. Here are five reasons for hope on World Fisheries Day. Read More »

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West Coast fishermen are having their fish and protecting habitat too

Decisions about protected areas can be contentious. It isn’t often that fishermen and environmentalists find ourselves celebrating new protected areas together, but on the West Coast we’re doing just that.

This week, I had the pleasure of being present as the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to support a collaborative effort to reopen thousands of square miles of previously-closed West Coast fishing grounds, much of it in the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) while at the same time protecting 140,000 square-miles of highly valuable fish habitat. That’s bigger than the state of New Mexico! Read More »

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Two more rockfish species declared “rebuilt”

Photos: Vicky Okimura

Rapid comebacks mean greater fishing opportunities, more sustainable seafood for U.S. markets

EDF’s Pacific team is pleased to share the news that stocks of both Bocaccio and Darkblotched rockfish have been declared rebuilt on the West Coast, well ahead of schedule. Commercial fishermen – who have worked for years to avoid catching the species – will soon be much freer to harvest them and to supply consumers with these beautiful, delicious, sustainable rockfish.

Previously declared overfished, Bocaccio and Darkblotched are among several species that have been under strict rebuilding plans in recent years.  As such, they’ve been among the “constraining species” that fishermen have intentionally avoided catching since 2011, when the trawl fishery’s quota-based catch share management system was implemented. (Fishermen sought to avoid them prior to 2011 also, but under less effective management systems.) Read More »

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New fisherman coming to Morro Bay

Kyle Pemberton is a 29-year old fisherman from El Granada, California.  He grew up fishing and crabbing with his father and uncle out of Half Moon Bay, at the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, where he currently resides.  He always showed strong math and mechanical skills, and considered studying engineering, but fishing proved too strong a pull.  He crewed for several years, working his way up to alternate captain on Steve Fitz’s boat, the F/V Mr. Morgan, using the unique and light-touch Scottish seine gear.

With a California Fisheries Fund loan, Kyle purchased the successful trawler F/V Moriah Lee, and is soon pulling up roots to move a four-hour drive down the coast to Morro Bay to trawl for West Coast groundfish, including Dover sole, Chilipepper rockfish, Petrale sole, and thornyheads.  He is leasing quota from the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund, a nonprofit created to prevent historic trawl fishing activity from consolidating into larger fishing vessels and ports, securing rights to the groundfish resource locally.  Anchoring groundfish access in small scale fishing ports such as Morro Bay is critical to the economic viability of these communities.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund and become part of the groundfish fleet,” he told CFF. “I am very thrilled to establish my new home and become part of the Morro Bay community.”

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Fishing gear innovations creating great results for fish, fishermen and habitat

Trawl gear modifications produce reductions in bycatch, fuel use and seafloor contact – all with increased catching efficiency.

Over the past couple of years EDF’s Pacific team has been privileged to work with fishermen, scientists, fishing net manufacturers and many others on a three-stage project to demonstrate the feasibility of improved trawl net designs on the West Coast. The video shown here describes the amazing progress we’ve made together and indicates a path-forward for disseminating our results to fishermen everywhere.

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