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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of SEPESCA – Baja California
Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying senior fisheries officials from four Mexican states to Southern California, where they met with fishermen, seafood processors and members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). As they establish and reinforce their own fishery management systems and structures, this trip was a chance for Mexican officials to see firsthand a well-established system that has evolved for decades – and generally succeeds – through broad-based stakeholder participation and a commitment to transparency.
In 2007 the four states with Gulf of California coastlines – Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California and Baja California Sur – were mandated by the new Mexican Fisheries Law to establish fishery management structures. Some are further along than others, but each face daunting challenges; Limited manpower and finances, little governing infrastructure and minimal baseline scientific data that are so critical to fishery management.
Although I don’t presume to speak for the individual fishery leaders, I think it’s safe to say that this trip was a success. Based on our conversations, here are some of the concepts that made the strongest impressions on them during the visit: Read More
Originally posted in Rare Dispatches, Author: J.M. McCord
Fishers in Loreto, Mexico, play Go Fish! with different-colored candy representing juvenile and adult fish
Ulises Mendez, Rare program manager in Mexico, waited for the cackles to subside before asking the fishers what they had learned. The fishers had just completed a candy-grabbing game designed to expose the benefits of good fishery management.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) first exposed Mendez to the game during a workshop a couple years ago. Many versions of the game exist involving a variety of props and customizations. The essential elements are:
1 A proxy for the ocean — “In our regional training we did the fishing game in a pool,” says Sarilani Wirawan, Rare senior program manager in Indonesia. “The more water, the more fun.” Typically, a table will do.
2 Fish stand-ins — any material available will suffice, ranging from rocks, peanuts and shells to goldfish cut-outs or action figures, but the most popular option is candy. Mendez used multi-colored candy to represent different types of fish such as juveniles and adults.
3 Some versions also include props for different fishing gear or plates for no-fishing areas. The specifics can be tweaked for relevance to a region’s laws and threats. Read More
EDF was recently invited by the Fisheries Committee of the Mexican Senate to present a study on Illegal fishing in Mexico that we have developed with the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO) and other partners. Three of the five Senators who make up the Committee were present: the Chair – Sen. Francisco Lopez Brito (PAN, Sinaloa), the Secretary – Sen. Oscar Rosas González (PRI, Campeche), and Sen. Ernesto Ruffo (PAN, BC). Also in attendance was the General Director and several staff from National Fisheries Institute of Mexico (INAPESCA), as well as representatives from fishermen´s associations from both the industrial and small-scale fleets.
This is the first time EDF attended one of the monthly public meetings of the Committee. Pedro Zapata (EDF de Mexico Director) and Rodrigo Gallegos (Director for Global Warming from IMCO) made remarks and presented key conclusions from this study, which we hope will open up a constructive dialogue on this critical and complex issue. A few of the main points presented follow: Read More
Mexican fishermen with a catch of Corvina. Photo Credit: Silvia Yee
For many years the short, six week commercial Corvina fishing season in the Upper Gulf of California was marked by a frenzied race to fish, with as many as 600 boats in the water at the same time. Beginning in late February, and aligned with moon cycles, this species gathers in the Colorado River delta to spawn, a yearly ritual eagerly awaited by the local fishermen. And so every year, with so much fish to be had, and so many fishermen, thousands of tons would hit the market simultaneously. This drove the price down and resulted in even more fishing effort, which would even further depress prices – to values below that of a recycled plastic bottle. It was a vicious cycle that has become all too familiar in fisheries in Latin America and around the world. Scientists have long advised that, if unchecked, this way of fishing could lead to the complete collapse of Corvina, having dire consequences for a region with very limited economic alternatives. It is estimated that Corvina represents as much as 60% of all fish sold in Mexico City during this time of year, coinciding with Lent, when seafood consumption is highest.
Three years ago EDF, fishermen, and critical partners like Noroeste Sustentable (NOS), the Academy for Systemic Change, and the state and federal governments, set out to bring catch share management to this fishery to give fishermen and others a stake in its biological and economic success. Read More
Tracks from Kemp's ridley sea turtles can be seen on a stretch of beach near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico earlier this year. Photo courtesy of LightHawk.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season is winding down for the summer, and I'm happy to report that nest numbers are still on the rise! While the Kemp's ridleys still are the world's most critically endangered sea turtle, they are making a huge come back in recent years.
Until half a century ago, tens of thousands of Kemp’s ridleys would surge onto Mexico’s Gulf of Mexico beaches in a few large nesting events each year to lay their eggs. At the turn of the 20th century, turtle meat and eggs became popular delicacies, causing the turtle’s population to crash. Later, accidental catches in fishing gear kept their population from recovering.
Today, Kemp's ridleys are rebounding due to protections that government, fishing industry, EDF and other conservation groups helped win. These unprecedented actions included protecting Mexico beaches where the turtles nest, monitoring hatchlings at an incubation site, and establishing the headstart program and a second nesting site in Texas. The initial recovery program spanned from 1978-1988. During this time, over 22,000 eggs were transported from Playa de Rancho Nuevo in Mexico to Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. Once hatched, the turtles were exposed to the Padre Island sand and surf, and then captured and transported to the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Galveston, Texas, where they were reared in captivity for 9-11 months. This “head-start” program allowed the turtles to grow large enough to be tagged for future recognition and to avoid most natural predators. It was hoped that this exposure would imprint the turtles to the National Seashore so they would return year after year to nest at adulthood. Read More