Category Archives: Global Fisheries

New report outlines causes of ocean decline and proposal for recovery

A new report by an independent global organization lays out an eight-point plan to reverse ocean decline and advance recovery of the high seas.

The Global Ocean Commission (GOC), an independent organization of prominent leaders from around the globe formed to develop feasible solutions for key challenges facing the high seas, yesterday issued its final report, “From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean.” It outlines five drivers of ocean decline and an eight-part proposal to recover the high seas, an area of our oceans outside the jurisdiction of individual countries.

EDF applauds the commission for bringing high-level international attention to the important role oceans play in sustaining life on the planet, and we are pleased to see the optimism and solution-focus of the report.  The commission’s call to action must be heeded; recovery of the ocean is both possible and imperative to sustaining life on earth.

The GOC recognized that overfishing has been one of the primary drivers of ocean decline. Its recovery plan includes calls for reforming governance and management to address overfishing as well as eliminating harmful subsidies that often lead to too many fishermen chasing too few fish.

As the GOC points out, there is significant environmental and economic upside potential when fisheries are managed properly.  Both science and practical experience tell us that there are solutions that can be adopted to eliminate overfishing while empowering fishermen to be stewards of the resource they use. These solutions, such as secure access to a share of the global catch, coupled with science based limits on catch levels, can align economic and environmental incentives so that fishermen are motivated to fish more sustainably.

Subsidies that work against profitable and sustainable fisheries need to be ended, but the path to getting there isn’t always easy. Fishermen often depend on government support, and that support is often most needed when fish populations are collapsing. Governments can re-direct their funding to work with fishermen to develop solutions that will boost economic and ecological recovery rather than perpetuate collapse.

The EU’s new Common Fisheries Policy is a good example to follow. The policy and accompanying funding legislation, includes stronger sustainability requirements and redirects harmful subsidies to the improvement of fisheries management.  At last night’s event to celebrate the release of the GOC report, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, received a hearty round of applause for these reform efforts that she successfully led.

There is much work to do to ensure that the recommendations of the GOC report lead to real action by governments, businesses and NGOs around the world.  While the GOC has identified the high seas as the focus of their efforts, we hope that further cooperation by government, business and civil society can also address the management problems within countries’ own waters, where the majority of fish are caught.

By implementing the GOC’s advice and following suit to reform management in fishing nations’ waters, the world can in the near future enjoy thriving oceans that provide more fish in the water, more food on the plate and more prosperous communities.

 

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FAO adopts sustainable small-scale fisheries guidelines

Photo credit: Jason Houston

Photo credit: Jason Houston

Small-scale fisheries provide a host of social and economic benefits to local communities.  They contribute about half of the global catch; supplying food for local, national and global markets.  They are responsible for about ninety percent of fishing employment. They provide income, contribute to food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, and often support a way of life strongly anchored in local culture and community.

But small-scale and artisanal fisheries face many challenges today including depleted fish stocks; pollution; encroachment from development; climate change, and sea level rise. Many small-scale fishing communities are marginalized, with low levels of access to political power, education and other resources.

To combat these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with governments, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to develop a set of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF).  Today at the biennial meeting of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries in Rome, delegates adopted the SSF Guidelines by consensus.

The SSF Guidelines offer guidance on how to deliver on the promise of sustainable small-scale fisheries in a way that is ecosystem-friendly, participatory and sensitive to cultural context. The Guidelines give strong new impetus to the importance of inclusiveness in setting goals and designing management systems that can work for communities, with an emphasis on the key role that women play in sustainable fishing communities.

In brief, the Guidelines stress that:

  • Small-scale fishing communities need to have secure tenure rights, which equitably distribute benefits from responsibly managed fisheries.
  • These tenure rights are balanced by responsibilities for long term conservation and management of fishery resources, and small-scale actors must fish at levels and with practices that protect the resource over the long term.
  • States must include small-scale fishing communities in the design, planning and implementation of management systems to sustain fisheries and communities – and in particular must ensure that women are equitably included in all aspects of the process.
  • The post-harvest and trade sectors are just as critical to the security of SSF communities as fishing itself, and stakeholders from these sectors (particularly women, who are often more active in post-harvest than harvest roles) must be included in the design, planning and implementation of these parts of the value chain.
  • Special attention to social and economic development may be needed to ensure that often-marginalized SSF communities can have secure livelihoods and enjoy their human rights.
  • Governments need to put in place policies and plans to take into consideration the potential for significant risks to SSF communities from disasters and climate change.
  • All parties need to respect and make use of traditional knowledge, in addition to collecting and disseminating scientific research, in support of SSF; communicating the data in an efficient and transparent way is an essential component of sustainable management.
  • Small-scale fisheries also operate in near-shore environments of great ecological value, and thus high-quality fisheries management systems in those places also yield tangible environmental benefits.

The FAO developed the SSF Guidelines through a very broad and inclusive process of outreach and listening; the result was a document that truly reflects the concerns and aspirations of the people and communities who depend on these fisheries. EDF commends all involved for adoption of these important guidelines and looks forward to assisting in implementation.

Click here to view the full guidelines.

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5 Reasons for Hope on World Fisheries Day

bundle of fish

photo credit: tarotastic via photopin cc

Today is World Fisheries Day— a healthy reminder of how important fisheries are, regardless of where we live.

Wild fisheries must be managed and harvested sustainably in order to successfully rebuild global fish stocks and reliably feed the billions of people around the world who rely on them.

Innovative solutions are needed to establish sustainable fishing practices as the norm and to give a boost to coastal communities that rely on healthy fish stocks.

But today, global fisheries are tremendous pressure—to feed the world’s growing population and from the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.  There is, however, cause for optimism.  Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. In the United States, improved management—in part due to the flexibility and alignment of environmental, social and economic incentives that catch shares provide—is paying off.  Fish stocks are rebuilding, fishermen are finding innovative solutions to be more selective about the stocks they target and the value of commercial seafood landed in 2012 was almost 20% higher than the average of the last decade. Fishermen are also seeing increased revenue per vessel. NMFS recently released an economic study of fisheries managed under quota allotments which found revenue increases of 27% in the first year and 68% after 10 years of the program.  Read More.
  2. Earlier this year EDF examined successes from the United States and several other countries, such as Japan, Chile and Mexico, to assemble a comprehensive toolkit for designing and implementing management systems that can build resilient, profitable fisheries. This toolkit represents years of research and can deliver value to fishery managers around the world. Read More.
  3. After years of deliberation, the European Union has finalized proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU’s framework for fisheries management.The new policy promises a better future for both fishermen and fish by providing a comprehensive management system designed to restore healthy marine environments while supporting profitable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. The new CFP, which will enter into force in January, calls for Member States to move to eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea. It also requires fishing at sustainable, Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels, and supports a regionalized approach through decentralized decision-making. Read More.
  4. EDF is a proud founding member of an ambitious effort with the World Bank and more than 100 partners to bring 50% of the world’s wild fish under sustainable management in 10 years while increasing economic benefits by $20 billion annually.   This project represents impressive cooperation among countries, the private sector, NGOs and fishery stakeholders and can potentially transform the world’s fisheries and fishing communities. Read More.
  5. Many struggling or collapsed fisheries across the globe are already improving. The challenge is to replicate successful strategies and continue building partnerships with fishermen and other fishery stakeholders in the regions of the world where healthy fisheries are most essential. We are confident this can be achieved and will continue working to bring fishermen and managers together to find efficient, sustainable solutions that will work for both fish and fishermen. Read More.

We hope to have more progress to celebrate next year on World Fisheries Day.

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Setting aside space provides room for innovation

By Sarah Poon

Territorial Use Rights for Fishing, or TURFs, have been in place for centuries in fishing communities around the world.  In a TURF, fishery participants have a secure, exclusive privilege to fish in a defined area.  Many fishery policy experts view TURFs and catch share programs as separate options for managing fisheries. TURFs are a type of catch share, since the area-based privileges assigned under a TURF provide the same rewards for stewardship as quota-based privileges.

In recent decades fishery managers have channeled the historical successes of this approach by formally recognizing customary TURFs, applying them to more fisheries and experimenting  with modern adaptations.

Community-based territorial rights that have existed for centuries are now formally recognized by national law in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Palau.  Empowered by national law promoting traditional community-based management, the Safata District of Samoa implemented a district-wide TURF in 2000.  Bylaws developed by the community manage members’ fishing efforts and limit outsiders’ access.  Safata’s leaders have further improved biological performance by establishing a network of no-take reserves.  With a formalized role in management, the district has received strong community support, high regulatory compliance and increased abundance for important species.

TURF systems have been used in different types of fisheries, but they are particularly well-suited for managing near shore fisheries where there is a clear spatial range of fishing activity. While these systems are ideal for less mobile species that don’t move beyond TURF boundaries, they can also be designed for more mobile species.

In Mexico, fishermen are benefitting immensely from the Baja California Regional Federation of Fishing Cooperative Societies (FEDECOOP). Under the federation, 13 fishing Cooperatives from 10 villages manage Baja spiny lobster, abalone, and other species in 10 area-based concessions or TURFs. By coordinating management across a network of TURFs, FEDECOOP has served as a model for sustainable fisheries management. The fishery was awarded Marine Stewardship Council certification in 2004, making it the first small-scale fishery in a developing country to receive accreditation.  The system has incentivized fishermen to protect stocks and many Cooperatives have even implemented voluntary no-take zones, allowing fish populations to recover more quickly and the oceans ecosystems to become more resilient to change.

Across the world, the Japanese Common Fishing Rights System is a model for managing nearshore species—including more mobile species—through a coordinated system of co-management. Japan’s program, formally established in 1949 when Fishery Cooperative Associations (FCAs) were granted TURFs, spans most of the nation’s coastline and includes more than 1,000 FCAs. Under the TURF system, FCAs are responsible for the day-to-day management of coastal fisheries.  Fishery management organizations (FMOs) have also emerged to improve management by promoting collaboration between fishermen targeting certain species or using certain gear types, often including fishermen from multiple FCAs. Innovation is an outcome of the TURF system, and fishermen within and between Cooperatives have agreed to pool effort, costs, knowledge and revenues to increase profits and improve stock conditions.

These are just a few examples of fisheries that are successfully using TURFs to manage their resources. Below you will find links to additional examples of how fisheries have designed TURFs to meet biological, economic and social goals.  A step-by-step guide to designing TURFs can be found here. To access our full fisheries toolkit click here.

Mexican Vigía Chico Cooperative Spiny Lobster Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program

The most productive fishing Cooperative in the Mexican-Caribbean since 1982, this area-based catch share program has steadied the Punta Allen lobster catch while ensuring access to community members.

Chilean National Benthic Resources Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program

Among the largest area-based catch share programs in the world, the Chilean TURF system includes more than 17,000 artisanal fishermen and co-manages more than 550 distinct areas along the coast.

Spanish Galicia Goose Barnacle Cofradía System

The Galician goose barnacle fishery’s integration of traditional fishing guilds, provision of secure and exclusive fishing areas and use of an on-site fisheries ecologist have established one of the most successful models of fisheries co-management in Spain.

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Maximizing Limited Data to Improve Fishery Management

By Ashley Apel

According to a recent study published in Science, nearly 80% of the world’s catch comes from “data-limited” fisheries.  Not surprisingly, research shows that many of these fisheries are facing collapse, jeopardizing the food security of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who depend on seafood for a majority of their dietary protein.

Historically, fisheries with little data had few science-based management options. But new methods are being continuously developed and used in the field that deliver science-based results, even in the absence of long-term, historical catch data. Since fishery stock assessments can be extremely complex, EDF recently developed a user-friendly, six-step framework as part of an overall guide to Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries.

The framework outlines a systematic approach that fishery managers can use to conduct quick and relatively inexpensive assessments.  The methods allow stakeholders in data-limited fisheries to estimate risks to marine ecosystems, determine vulnerability of a stock to fishing pressure, calculate the level of overfishing, assess the sustainability of the fishery, and establish sustainable fishing targets and other management reference points.  

Download the guide on Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries or download the entire toolkit for fisheries.  Feel free to send questions or comments to catchsharequestions@edf.org.

Also posted in Alaska, Catch Shares, Cuba, EDF Oceans General, Latin America & Caribbean, Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Pacific, Science/Research, South Atlantic| Comments closed

"50 in 10" Collaborative Aims to Bring 50% of the World’s Catch Under Sustainable Management in 10 Years

On World Oceans Day we celebrated an ecosystem which is inextricably linked to our lives. Oceans cover about 70% of the planet and contain 99% of Earth’s living space. They are home to nearly half of all known species, generate most of the oxygen we breathe, help regulate the climate, and provide food for billions of people around the world. In fact, 2 billion people in the developing world depend on seafood for at least 50% of their nutritional needs.

There are myriad challenges facing the world’s oceans, including pollution, climate change, acidification and overfishing (often as a result of mis-management of fisheries), yet new policies and management tactics offer hope for improving the economic and environmental outlook of our oceans.

EDF is a founding partner of the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans—an “alliance of more than 100 governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector interests committed to addressing the threats to the health, productivity and resilience of the world’s oceans.” A separate but complimentary initiative is the “50 in 10 Initiative” which seeks to ensure that 50% of the world’s fish are caught under sustainable management by 2023. Consensus is emerging among global leaders that solutions to the problems we are facing exist—and can be scaled up to empower fisheries to deploy these proven solutions.

Miguel Jorge, the Director of the National Geographic Society’s Ocean Initiative, was recently named the first managing director of the 50 in 10 initiative. In his new role as director, he will work to expand the network of stakeholders and facilitate knowledge sharing about sustainable fisheries management. Jorge said, “While we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still a big part of the world where overfishing is a difficult problem to solve. But we have a tremendous opportunity as well…I’m excited about what we can accomplish as 50in10 unites the often disparate approaches of policy reform, community engagement and market strategies under one coordinated effort.” Collaboration among world leaders, industry stakeholders, academics, NGOs and the private sector is essential in order to foster compromise and design management practices that benefit consumers, workers and the fisheries they depend on.

 

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