New online training for sustainable fisheries management translated to Spanish

To read this blog in Spanish, please click here.

Fishing is essential to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people—from food to income, it supports vibrant coastal communities. The health and prosperity of these communities depends on their ability to manage their fisheries sustainably and address critical challenges such as overfishing.

This is apparent in Latin America and Spain, also known as the hispanoparlante (or Spanish-speaking) world. Spanish is the official language in 20 countries, 95% of which are coastal. These countries account for over 12% of global catch. Read More »

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Japan-Philippines fishery exchange highlights the benefits of collaboration

Bringing fishers and fishery managers from different places together through fishery exchanges is a powerful way to learn and build trust as you explore new approaches to manage fishing. After attending  and leading dozens of fishery exchanges over the years, I have been amazed by the peer-to-peer discussions that take place, regardless of language barriers or cultural differences, and the candor of government officials and fishers describing the challenges they have faced or successes they have worked to achieve. It is incredible to see participants hear about something new or innovative that they could bring back to their communities.  The excitement is contagious.

While there are always major differences between fisheries that make some aspects of learning challenging or even inapplicable, we want people to recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of ones fishery. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to managing fisheries because each fishery has its own set of characteristics based on the history of the fishery, culture of the area, species composition, governance structure, resources, and most importantly fishers and their accustomed fishing practices.  These exchanges are an opportunity to share experiences with others and to learn from each other about new and different approaches that can be adopted to improve fisheries management.

Recently, EDF and our partner Rare-Philippines organized a Japan-Philippines exchange for a delegation from the Philippines to visit several fisheries in Mie Prefecture, Japan.  We were particularly inspired to see firsthand what happens when fishers are empowered by the local government to make day to day management decisions: they pursue solutions that improve their livelihoods, and the long term sustainability of the fish they depend on. Those attending included champion mayors and their local government staff from eight municipalities that all have legally approved TURF+Reserves and are in the process of implementing these new systems on the water.  Read More »

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Chile’s President reaffirms commitment to marine conservation

Julio Chamarro at the UN

Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to protecting the marine environment while speaking at a meeting on ocean conservation issues during the annual gathering last week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Our commitment to the prosperity and well-being of our citizens cannot be disassociated with economic growth,” she said.  “But for the same reason, we must accept, once and for all, that long-term growth is not possible, nor is it true development, without an active policy of environmental protection.”

We couldn’t agree more with the President that long term growth is not possible without the protection of the environment. We also believe that working hand in hand with fishermen is critical to building sustainable fisheries, and that economic prosperity is achievable even alongside environmental protections.

That’s why we are excited and inspired to see that President Bachelet invited Julio Chamorro, a lobster fishermen from Juan Fernandez to attend the meeting  of the UN General Assembly and present on the importance of marine protected areas and sustainable fishing.   Read More »

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Protecting imperiled ocean travelers

Photo: Noel Lopez-Fernandez

Photo: Noel Lopez-Fernandez

By: Katie Westfall & Melissa Mahoney

Across the globe, populations of many highly migratory species of fish, turtles and marine mammals have hit dangerously low levels. For example, Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent, and their Eastern Pacific counterparts have declined by more than 97 percent. Many of these species play vital roles in maintaining balanced ocean ecosystems full of diversity and life. As we work to reverse these declines, environmentalists have to ensure that everything we do has the greatest positive impact. This means that we’ll need smart management at home and solutions that protect highly migratory species wherever they roam.

New research suggests that well-intentioned U.S. regulations designed to help species like sharks and sea turtles may actually create a net harm to imperiled sea life.

This unintentional negative dynamic can occur when a country, like the United States, unilaterally adopts a regulation to protect an imperiled species such as sea turtles or sharks caught as bycatch. If the regulation leads to decreased fishing domestically and shifts fishing internationally to countries where bycatch rates are higher, the net result can be a higher number of bycatch deaths for the very species the regulation intended to protect. This phenomenon has been called the “transfer effect.” Read More »

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Here’s why the world should invest in a sustainable fishing future

photo credit: pengrin™ origami fish - made by June via photopin (license)

photo credit: pengrin™ origami fish – made by June via photopin (license)

Investing in the ocean is essential to ensuring life thrives on our planet. Three billion people depend on seafood for their survival, and hundreds of millions depend on the oceans for their livelihood. With climate impacts threatening this critical resource, now is the time to bring investment capital to accelerating the transition to sustainable fishing.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. urged worldwide consensus on the need for large-scale private financial investments to cover the costs of combatting climate change. He points out that “there is a global abundance of private capital” that should be tapped to develop clean technologies rather than relying exclusively on the relatively small supply of capital available from governments. Mr. Paulson also asserts that governments can lead the way to a low-carbon future by creating policies and tools to enable the flow of capital into critical projects.

The same is true for sustainable fishing. We already have the tools to increase the amount of fish in the sea, food on the plate and financial return for fishing communities in as little as ten years. EDF, together with the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and 50in10, found that fish and people thrive, and investment risk is lower, when harvests are at sustainable levels, fishers have secure access rights and there is robust monitoring and enforcement of fishing activity. These enabling conditions make it possible for investors to focus on investments in seafood supply chains, infrastructure, and technology. Read More »

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New process helps managers make informed decisions, even in data poor fisheries

The coast of Galicia, Spain where octopus, goose barnacles, and many other species are harvested by small scale fishermen and women.

The coast of Galicia, Spain where octopus, goose barnacles, and many other species are harvested by small-scale fishermen and women.

Fishery managers, scientists and NGOs from all over Spain gathered in Madrid on a warm spring morning at a workshop convened by EDF and World Wildlife Fund Spain, eager to learn about how to collect, analyze, and use data to manage fishing mortality so that they could achieve their goal of good yields sustained over many years and even generations.

Like many people struggling to improve fishery outcomes around the world, the participants in this workshop felt like they couldn’t use the complex fishery assessment models they had learned in school because the data they actually had in hand were quite limited – and the models required rich streams of data.  The vast majority – probably over 80% – of the world’s fisheries appear to be in this situation.  The participants also felt like they had to make important management decisions with limited expertise by wading through a mass of technical papers on a variety of topics, none giving clear and specific guidance for the specific fisheries they care so much about.

Over the course of three intense days, participants worked together to synthesize guidance from the literature and from other fisheries on how to monitor fisheries, choose appropriate analytical methods and use the results to manage fisheries.  Together, we worked out how this guidance could be applied to specific fisheries.

We were thrilled to read the evaluations afterward.  Participants got a tremendous amount out of the workshop, but many of them said that it was too short (even though most of us were exhausted by the long days of thinking hard and practicing various skills).  They wanted to dig deeper and build on the skills that they had learned.  It would have been great to have a large body of international expertise on monitoring, data analysis and how to adjust fishing mortality to achieve fishery management goals in one convenient place that could be tailored to the fisheries that they care most about.

FishPath: Guiding managers in complex, data poor fisheries

Fortunately, a working group of international stock assessment experts convened by the Science for Nature and People program foresaw this need and developed a process called FishPath that does exactly that.  FishPath  elicits key information about a specific fishery and then uses that information to identify monitoring, assessment and harvest control options that will likely be appropriate for that fishery.  Read More »

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