Category Archives: Pacific

California Fisheries Fund Grants Loans to Local Dungeness Fishermen

Dan Durbin

Dan Durbin standing next to his boat the Golden Girl

It’s the height of the much loved Dungeness crab season and the California Fisheries Fund (CFF) lent a helping hand to two Half Moon Bay, California fishermen just in time for them to participate in the fishing season.

Donald Marshall, a former plumber and HVAC technician, recently received a $90,000 loan from the CFF which helped him to buy a crab permit for his boat, the F/V Janet E. Donald, who has fished since the age of 5, fulfilled his life-long passion when he became a full-time fisherman three years ago. Don, the CFF’s fourteenth borrower, sells directly off the dock in Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point Harbor.

Dan Durbin, a former recreational fisherman and local business owner from San Jose, is also living his dream. With the help of a $154,000 loan, Dan purchased his first commercial fishing boat, the F/V Golden Girl, along with permits to fish for crab and salmon.

Both Don and Dan’s CFF loans coincide with the transition to a crab pot limit program. Under the new pot limit, the maximum number of pots that can be fished by each vessel is set at between 175 and 500. Both Don and Dan have 250-pot limits.  This management change brings California’s regulations on par with Oregon and Washington, leveling the playing field between the three states where there is often cross-over in fishing effort. The hope is that the new regulation will reduce fishing capacity, decrease competition on the water, increase safety and reduce the amount of lost gear in the sea.

This is a pivotal time for California crab. While questions still remain regarding the effectiveness of the new regulations’ ability to slow down derby fishing we’re happy that the fishery is taking the necessary steps toward sustainability by addressing the over-capacity and excessive fishing effort it has faced for so long. We are also thrilled to see this all stem from a collaborative effort between fishermen and policymakers and are even more thrilled to help fishermen transition to pot limits through our CFF loans.

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A new dawn for Pacific whiting fishery

photo credit: willapalens via photopin cc

photo credit: willapalens via photopin cc

Yesterday, a federal court in California upheld the parameters that govern what fishing history is used to set allocations in the Pacific whiting fishery, one sector of the West Coast Groundfish IFQ Program

The decision in the Pacific Dawn litigation on pacific whiting quota share allocation is a win for the fishery and fishermen alike, and protects the integrity of management changes designed to provide for the long-term health of the fishery.

Control dates are established by NOAA to alert fishermen that fishing activity after the control date may not be taken into account when quota allocation decisions are made. As EDF legal staff argued at the hearing in early November, control dates are used to determine historic participation in the fishery, and help fishery managers allocate quota fairly amongst fishermen with a stake in the fishery.  If fishery participants believe that the control dates will not be adhered to, they have an incentive to fish harder and more often as a catch share plan is considered, exacerbating overcapitalization just as managers are moving to reduce it.

Overturning the control dates would have destabilized the fishery at the same time the new management system is producing tremendous benefits.

In 2011, the first year of the Pacific Groundfish catch share program  West Coast whiting fishermen landed 40% more fish than in 2010 and earned more than twice their average profit in the past (2011 NOAA Report). Already a low-bycatch fishery, in 2011 the whiting fleet bycatch of rebuilding groundfish decreased by almost 100% in some species. Although the 2012 whiting quota was lower than 2011 (which had been a banner year), the whiting fishery continued its trend toward extremely low bycatch (2012 NOAA Report).

The court’s decision keeps the fishery on the path to environmental and economic success and protects control dates as an important tool to prevent further overcapitalization as catch shares are developed.  The court’s decision also aligned with the opinion of many groundfish fishermen and processors who have testified in support of the catch share program and would have suffered if the control date had been struck down. Read the full decision here.

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Monitoring with an eye towards cost-effectiveness in the Pacific Groundfish fishery

In the Pacific, electronic monitoring (EM) research is currently focused on individual accountability of both catch and bycatch in the trawl catch share fishery.  Since 2011, vessels in this fishery have been required to carry an on board observer.  Additionally, the crew of each vessel operates a vessel monitoring system (VMS), submits logbooks, and reports 100% of landings. This comprehensive program, along with individual fishing quotas (IFQs), has proven to be an effective approach to managing the fishery.  This success is evidenced by a decrease in catch of overfished and rebuilding species, as well as a significant reduction in unwanted catch, or “discards.” 

Why Electronic Monitoring?

The West Coast Groundfish monitoring program is working well, but its high costs could push some of the smaller vessels out of the fishery, especially those that operate out of remote locations where it is difficult to deploy fisheries observers.  EDF’s Pacific Ocean team, along with many other stakeholders, is working with the Pacific Fishery Management Council to identify and approve appropriate electronic monitoring options.  The integration of EM into the Pacific groundfish monitoring program is expected to help reduce costs and increase operational flexibility while maintaining high levels of accountability.

 

Preliminary EM Research Results:

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSFMC) has overseen EM research with various portions of the groundfish fleet since March 2012.  Results of the 2012 research from whiting (midwater trawl) and shoreside groundfish (longline, pot and trap) vessels were released at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting in June 2013, highlighting key factors to be considered to ensure successful deployment of EM, including:

  1. Hardware makes a difference.  Digital cameras (as opposed to analog cameras) facilitate the accurate identification of fish species.  Vessels will also need to have an adequate power supply to avoid situations necessitating powering down an EM system during a fishing trip.
  2. Communication is key.  Feedback between data analysts/program managers and the captain/crew is needed to ensure: catch handling protocols are appropriate for the vessel and the camera locations; equipment is properly maintained; and that cameras are not obstructed during fishing operations.  This collaboration is essential for developing vessel-specific monitoring plans.
  3. Define your terms.  A clear definition and expectation of what constitutes “catch” and “discard” is necessary to accurately compare EM and observer collected data.
  4. Data drives it.  The duration of a fishing trip and fishing activities will determine the amount of data to be recorded and stored.  Knowing data storage needs in advance will ensure hard drive capacity is not exceeded, which can result in the inadvertent loss of data.
  5. Size matters.  Knowing the dimensions of the vessel and fishing gear can assist data reviewers in calculating volumetric estimates of catch.

 

Next Steps:

PSMFC and Archipelago Marine Research are currently working with 14 fishing vessels to continue EM research.  Likewise, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is on track to tackle regulatory aspects of implementing EM in the groundfish fishery.  Starting this week, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting to adopt a range of alternatives for EM regulations, with the goal of implementing electronic monitoring for major segments of the groundfish catch share fishery by January 1, 2015.  To accomplish this work, the Council established two ad-hoc EM advisory committees, one of which I serve on along with stakeholders from the Pacific Groundfish fishery.  A calendar of the Pacific Council’s EM-related work can be found here.

Although a timeline has been established, much work remains to complete the Pacific regional implementation plan and resolve some of the logistical and political challenges to putting a fully operational EM program in place.  Given the importance of fishery-dependent data to fishery management, and the need for cost-efficient means to monitor fishing activities, EDF will continue to support the adoption of EM and other technological solutions in the Pacific and nationally.

 

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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, Global Fisheries, Latin America & Caribbean, Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Science/Research, South Atlantic | Comments closed

New management plan continues to yield conservation & economic benefits in Pacific groundfishery: NOAA report

fishery observer

WCGOP Observer
Photo Credit: NOAA Report, supplied by Sean Sullivan

On September 24, NOAA Fisheries released their report on the second year (2012) of the West Coast Groundfish Catch Shares Program, a program that EDF has been instrumental in helping to develop, implement and improve. The report notes the spirit of partnership that helped bring a catch share management system to the Pacific Coast, and praises the program's conservation and economic performance. Mostly, however, NOAA credits fishermen for using the flexibility afforded under catch shares to improve their long-term economic prospects and avoid overfished species.

 

 

Here are some highlights:

  • Conservation: The report notes “a significant reduction in the amount of bycatch,” of overfished species, and concludes that the program “is actively rebuilding several groundfish stocks.”
  • Catch: Harvest of target stocks continues to improve—up 5% from 2011.
  • Business Flexibility: Transfers of quota between fishermen increased dramatically in comparison with 2011, and were relatively constant throughout the year. This increase indicates better understanding among fishermen of how to leverage their allotment for efficient business planning.

NOAA’s report also reflects the strong and growing interest among West Coast fishery stakeholders in transitioning from 100% observer coverage on groundfish boats to lower cost alternatives, like cameras, that will still ensure 100% accountability for all catch.

The West Coast catch shares program is still a work in progress, but NOAA’s analysis is very encouraging.

“The report from the second year reinforces what we’re seeing. There are a lot of positive things happening that provide a solid foundation for building on,” said Shems Jud, Deputy Director of EDF’s Pacific Ocean team. “By working with fishermen now to help lower their operating costs and expand fishing opportunity, we think this program can be made durable for the long-term, and eventually turn into a real economic success story.”

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Mexican fisheries delegation visits West Coast; EDF-sponsored fact-finding trip illustrates benefits of collaboration in fishery management

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:

  • There are real benefits in having state fishery officials working with other states through a regional body, and sharing equally not only in the responsibilities of fishery management, but in the “best available science” that informs “best possible decision-making.”
  • There is real power in the council process. The decisions they reach have deep and serious implications, and it is clear from our conversations that this level of influence in the public policy process weighs heavily on council members as they deliberate and dialogue.
  • There is great respect for the views of fishermen (in the PFMC process), but there are also time-proven filters – the Council advisory committees that EDF staffers participate in. These advisory bodies air out and “stress-test” the concerns, opinions and recommendations of industry leaders and NGOs before they are presented to the Council. In a process that often involves week-long Council meetings, this filtering and testing is essential to the Council’s effectiveness.
  • The federal government plays a critical role in Council processes, but they participate as mutually respectful equals with the states, and a very healthy give-and-take is evident during Council meetings.

Not every policy and tactic in the Pacific are applicable to Mexico, but the fishery officials certainly benefited from a wealth of “lessons-learned” by West Coast fishery managers, and as we all know, lessons learned by someone else are often the best kind!

The Gulf of California states comprise a geographically and economically distinct region with fantastic marine resources. Developing management systems to support those resources and coastal economies will take a long time, but my staff and I look forward to helping in every way we can.

Delegation members Carlos Aceves and Daniel Vargas (Baja California State); Jose Fernando Garcia and Armando Herrero (Baja California Sur); Cuauhtemoc Castro and Cesar Julio Saucedo (Sinaloa State) ; Javier Vivian and Raúl Molina (Sonora State); and Anayeli Cabrera and Eduardo Rolon (Community & Biodiversity, Mexico City).

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EDF on FOX News: "Fish Smarter, Not Harder"

Kate Bonzon, Director of EDF’s Catch Share Design Center, recently appeared on the “Down to Earth” segment of KION Central Coast FOX News to discuss the serious issue of overfishing and the value of fishing smarter, not harder.

“The problem in the past is that regulations have actually worked against fishermen because their incentive was to go out and fish as much as they could, as fast as they could,” said Bonzon who leads our research on designing sustainable fishery management programs.

Bonzon was joined on the program by Joe Pennisi, a third generation West Coat fisherman who catches groundfish and David Crabbe, a Pacific Fishery Management Councilman and longtime commercial fisherman. Pennisi fishes smarter, not harder under a sustainable fishing program called catch shares. The West Coast catch share program gives him a secure privilege of the total catch and the ability to trade or sell their quota. And with this privilege, he has the time and flexibility needed to operate a more efficient and profitable business.

“If for some reason I have a break down, or maybe there is a lot of bad weather, I can trade some of my fish on the auction side, the other fishermen can buy it and they can trade with me,” explained Pennisi.

Watch the news program or visit our Catch Share Resources page to learn more about how these systems are restoring the world’s fisheries back to health.

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'Fish on Fridays': Pacific Sablefish

Sablefish Recipe

Sable with Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry Vinaigrette. Recipe from Chef Kerry Heffernan

During this season of Lent, we know people are shopping for seafood more frequently and we wanted to help guide sustainable seafood purchases, because buying fish that is caught responsibly is important to consumers. With more reports of seafood mis-labeling, and conflicting sustainability standards, we hope that this series will help consumers choose fish that is local, fresh, and guaranteed to be caught sustainably.

Knowing where your seafood comes from can help support local fishermen who work hard to supply us with the seafood that we all love. 

This week, we are featuring Pacific Sablefish (also known as black cod) which is managed under the Pacific Groundfish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. We are also presenting a tasty recipe from Chef Kerry Heffernan: Sable with Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry Vinaigrette.

 

 

Meet a fisherman: Captain Steve Fitz

Captain Steve Fitz grew up fishing with his father in New England before moving west and graduating from the University of Denver with a degree in business. About eighteen years ago, he moved out to Half Moon Bay, California, to fish with his uncle, eventually becoming the captain of the fishing vessel Mr. Morgan in 2000. Steve and his family are the only commercial fishing operation in the United States that uses Scottish Seine gear, a selective and eco-friendly way to catch groundfish.  Mr. Morgan Fisheries specializes in sustainably harvested groundfish and Dungeness crab.

 

The Pacific IFQ Groundfishery:

Fishermen and fishing communities in California, Washington and Oregon have been operating under the IFQ system for 60 commercially important species of groundfish since 2011. In the first year of this program, West Coast fishermen discarded 80% fewer fish than in the previous year, and their revenues reached $54 million—42% higher than the previous five-year average (2011 NOAA Report).

Environmental Defense Fund has worked for years alongside fishermen, fishery managers and leaders at NOAA Fisheries to develop solutions that reduce costs for the trawl fleet while maintaining critical program components like 100% catch monitoring. The West Coast IFQ fishery is the most accountable fishery in the contiguous United States today. accountability.  A new seafood label developed by EDF and Central Coast Seafood in California recognizes the commitment of the West Coast groundfish fleet to full accountability. The label, which reads “100% Federal At-Sea Monitoring: No Overfishing – Guaranteed”, distinguishes 100% monitored products. This label recognizes the commitment that West Coast fishermen have made to sustainable fishing, and gives consumers the ability to choose a catch share fish over a less sustainable product. Currently, a grocery store can’t distinguish catch share-caught sole, cod, sablefish, or other groundfish from fish from less well-regulated fisheries. The new label gives vendors, restaurants, and individuals the power to vote for catch shares and accountability, by purchasing 100% monitored products.

 

Sablefish:

Sablefish is also known as black cod and butterfish. It is found only in the Pacific and has a rich buttery flesh. Here is a delicious recipe from acclaimed Chef Kerry Heffernan for sablefish, prepared with pickled Jerusalem Artichokes and Sherry vinaigrette.

 

Sable with pickled Jerusalem artichokes and sherry vinaigrette

Cut sablefish in strips and sear (see picture).

 

Sherry Vinaigrette:

1 bottle Tio Pepe or other "bone dry" Amontillado sherry

1 bottle aged sherry vinegar

2 shallots finely minced

3 T Dijon mustard

3 egg yolks

2 cups grapeseed oil

 

1) Reduce 3/4 of the sherry and 3/4 of the sherry vinegar to 2/3 cup

2) Place 1/4 C sherry vinegar, 2 T Sherry (unreduced), reduced sherry vinegar/sherry mixture, mustard and shallots in blender. Season well with salt and pepper, blend for 20 seconds. While still blending, add grapeseed oil slowly in a stream so as to emulsify well until consistency of heavy cream is achieved. Check seasoning and add more vinegar, salt, pepper, and even raw sherry to taste.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Pickle:

3 lbs Jerusalem artichokes, very well scrubbed and sliced thinly on mandolin

2 large white onions, very finely julienned

8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 T Grapeseed oil

1/2 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup coriander seed (toasted whole first)

2 each fresh bay leaves

12 each cardamom pods (toasted whole first)

1/4 cup whole Black peppercorns (toasted first )

 

1) Place coriander, black peppercorns, bay leaves and cardamom in cheesecloth, make a "sachet" or pouch, and tie tightly.

2) In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold everything, begin sweating onions in grapeseed oil slowly for 2 to 3 minutes, seasoning with 5T kosher salt; add garlic and sachet and sweat 1 minute. Add Jerusalem artichokes, sugar and vinegar, cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Check seasoning and adjust. Simmer gently until tender but not at all breaking up. Allow to cool in its own liquid.

 

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