EDFish

Three actions countries managing Tuna need to take this week

Whether you enjoy eating tuna in your lunchbox sandwich, have a stake in the long-term sustainability and livelihoods of Pacific tuna fishing nations, or simply care about the future of healthy oceans and fish populations—it’s worth taking note of an important convening this week that could decide the future of sustainable tuna.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an international treaty organization of 35 member nations and territories charged with negotiating the management for tuna, sharks and rays, is meeting this week in Honolulu. These species are classified as highly migratory, meaning they swim through internationally managed waters, making collective management a necessity.

Tuna in particular, are highly valuable and face several thorny challenges that have resulted in less than optimal socioeconomic and biological performance, including weaknesses in current management that has allowed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, interactions with sharks, as well as human rights abuses. That’s why decisions made at this forum are so important.

The ultimate goal is to manage for healthy tuna populations that can support both the livelihoods and food security for Pacific Islands fishing communities and a thriving global industry. To achieve both of these outcomes, nations must put politics aside and focus on putting science-based management in place to rebuild tuna populations to a level that can support sustainable harvesting by all users now and for the future. Read More »

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New hope for Indigenous fishing communities in Chile

On a cold morning, we descend a bumpy dirt road through a forest of ancient alerce trees. As the forest clears, we arrive at a rugged coastline, dotted with fishing villages. The smell of smoke rises through the fog and combines with a salty sea breeze as villagers warm bread over their wood stoves, and fishers ready their boats for a day on the water. For centuries, these Indigenous Mapuche villages have lived off the thriving marine life of the Humboldt Current, a cold upwelling on Chile’s west coast that delivers abundance and a source of food and livelihood from the sea to the whole nation.

Photo credit Luciano Hiriart-Bertrand, Costa Humboldt

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The Fisheries White Paper, and Beyond

The UK Fisheries White Paper has finally landed. This hugely anticipated document provides a blueprint for future fisheries management in the UK as it forges the country’s own path after Brexit.  The paper sets out aspirations for achieving a ‘gold standard’ for UK fisheries management – an area which the paper acknowledges is of ‘totemic importance’.

A fresh start is a rare thing in fisheries management, and there’s plenty to indicate that the UK is ambitious in making the most of re-defining its approach to fisheries science and international relationships when it comes to our seas. We welcome innovative approaches to managing quota, such as the Government’s planned quota reserve, which will pool new quota potentially resulting from Brexit negotiations. This shows Government are switched on to the power of quota-based incentives to support best practice in sustainable fishing (as described in my previous blog on quota).  Concerns remain, however that there is still an imbalance between large and small scale operators and that Government should do more to make quota available to smaller, low impact vessels. Read More »

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In Sinaloa, Mexico fishermen are rewriting their legacy

A year ago, Fidel Insunza was not very optimistic about his future in fishing. With more than 30 years on the water, he has seen prosperous times come and go in Altata-Ensenada del Pabellon, a coastal lagoon system in Sinaloa, Mexico. Back in the “good days,” as he calls them, his income allowed him to buy a brand new pick-up truck or take his whole family on vacation to participate in Mazatlan’s famous Carnival. “Those were the days,” he recalls with nostalgia. Today, his income has reduced to a third of what it used to be. But he is not ready to give up on fishing just yet. “This is my life, the heart of my community, and I would choose to be a fisherman once more if I was born again. The only difference is that I would do it more responsibly,” he says. Read More »

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The remarkable recovery of U.S. fisheries continues

Credit: John Rae

At a time when there is significant concern about the erosion of environmental protections, a new report card from the National Marine Fisheries Service confirms that one of the most important conservation success stories of our time remains on track. The turnaround of U.S. fisheries is a remarkable bipartisan success story. This week’s annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report documents how a recovery kick-started during George W. Bush’s time in office, then accelerated under President Obama, held pace during the Trump administration’s first year.

Getting fishery management right is incredibly complex, as illustrated by a history of failure in the United States that spanned decades. Those failures too often deprived saltwater anglers of abundant target stocks, removed local catch from restaurant menus and grocery stores, and created hardship for coastal communities. Yet it is increasingly clear that the United States has now built many of the laws, regulations and institutions needed to meet this complex challenge. If we stay the course, the dividends of our hard-won gains will only grow. Read More »

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Indonesia advances sustainable fishing

In my 20 years working with fishery stakeholders in the United States, I saw time and again that good things happen when we band together to solve difficult problems.

I’m seeing it again now, in Indonesia, where I’ve been working as part of a team with local stakeholders to reshape their community fisheries.

In Indonesia’s Lampung Province, a collaborative effort to reform the local blue swimming crab fishery is not only leading to new protections for crab populations and habitat, and the communities that depends on them, but could also serve as a model for reform in other small-scale fisheries in Indonesia and around the world.

Credit: Alexis Rife

Two million Indonesian fishers and millions of others rely on the coast for their food and livelihoods. More than half of the nation’s animal protein comes from seafood. The country is one of the world’s largest seafood producers and exporters, and blue swimming crab is among its most important species, generating more than $300 million of economic activity a year. Read More »

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