For fish geeks, the annual Status of Stocks report is our “State of the Union." It’s an opportunity to take a big-picture look at where things stand, as well as to consider at a more granular level specific regions and fisheries where further reforms may be needed.
At a big-picture level, today’s report is another clear indication that “the state of our fisheries is strong." Indeed, it reveals that in 2015 the Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI) – the composite index that tracks the health of key commercial and recreational stocks that account for 85% of total catch – hit an all-time high. The relentless upward march of the index since 2000 is stunning, and reflects the success of fishermen, managers and conservationists working region by region, fishery by fishery, to end unsustainable open-access management and implement reforms that incentivize conservation. Read More »
Seafood for sale at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. Photo: Kate Culzoni
Squandering ocean fish—an essential living resource—unnecessarily harms not only wild creatures, but also the billions of people around the world dependent upon fish for their food and livelihoods.
A recent report by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future finds that between 2009 and 2013, billions of pounds of seafood is wasted every year in the United States—that’s as much as 47% of all edible seafood going to waste. The waste occurs throughout the seafood supply chain, but also in wild fish discarded at sea, sometimes called “bycatch” or “discards.” Fortunately, there are good answers to the bycatch part of this challenge.
Proven solutions exist to reduce wasted fish in the form of bycatch and discards. When fishermen are empowered with sustainable management, they are able to focus on gear and harvesting innovations that target only the fish they want to catch.
In fact, catch shares, a proven tool that aligns environmental and economic incentives for fishermen, save enough fish from being discarded to feed 17 million Americans their seafood for an entire year.Read More »
Since launching in 2008, the California Fisheries Fund (CFF) has made 30 low-interest loans—ranging from $50,000 to $350,000 — providing fishermen and sustainable fishing businesses with the capital needed to upgrade boats, purchase equipment and improve their business operations.
Our recent loan to the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust—a new community-led non-profit dedicated to securing groundfish fishing rights in the Monterey Bay region—provided the organization with vital seed money to enable its establishment.
“Our loan from the CFF has been critical to our organization’s early development” said Sherry Flumerfelt, Executive Director, Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust. “With the quota we were able to buy; we can lease to local fishermen, generate lease revenues and build on the success of sustainable fisheries management.”
With its new CFF loan, the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust will be better equipped to serve a community of local, family-owned fishing businesses; ease the burden on new entrants– making it easier for new fishermen to lease quota with flexible terms; and support a personalized, one-stop-shop leasing system that provides quick and improved services for fishermen.
The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust acquired more than $1 million in commercial groundfish quota from The Nature Conservancy. This transaction coupled with the CFF loan and The Monterey City Council’s pledge to use $225,000 from the city’s Tidelands Trust Fund to acquire fishing rights to be managed by the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust–will allow hundreds of thousands of pounds of groundfish to be caught under a sustainable fishery management program.
In 2011, this program, “catch shares," went into effect for more than 60 species of West Coast groundfish (e.g., sole, rockfish) and has achieved significant conservation goals. The new program has generated impressive conservation results:
In 2014, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program moved 21 species of West Coast fish to sustainable status
The Marine Stewardship Council certified the fishery sustainable, emphasizing the important role that the catch share program played in recovering the fishery.
The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust enhances the West Coast program, maintaining historic fishing access in Monterey Bay and supporting the communities that rely on it (Moss Landing, Monterey and Santa Cruz). CFF is fortunate to support the Monterey Bay fishing community and advance the vision of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust, securing the profitability and sustainability of Monterey Bay for many generations to come.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, considered by many to be the ultimate arbiter of sustainability for the U.S. seafood market, has released five new reports on the West Coast groundfish fishery. In these new assessments they concluded that almost 40 types of rockfish, sole and other fish species – representing virtually all groundfish caught on the West Coast – are now considered sustainable seafood choices.
This was not always the case. The fishery was declared a federal disaster in 2000. After years of overfishing and declining productivity, the fishing industry began working with Environmental Defense Fund experts and federal regulators to design a new management system that better aligned the interests of fishermen and fish populations. Read More »
Today EDF proudly announced its new sustainable seafood partnership with Texas retail giant H-E-B, a cornerstone of communities across Texas for more than 100 years. One of the nation's largest independently owned food retailers with annual sales exceeding $20 billion, they operate more than 350 H-E-B and Central Market stores across the state.
The new partnership builds on H-E-B’s longstanding dedication to healthy oceans, healthy seafood and healthy Gulf fishing communities, and positions EDF as its primary sustainability advisor for all fresh, frozen and prepared fish offerings (work will begin on shelf stable seafood later this year). H-E-B’s updated sourcing policy outlines nine ways that they are committed to providing the freshest, safest, and most sustainable seafood. Read More »
If you love seafood, the six weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter is likely one of your favorite times of the year. It doesn’t hurt that restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores are awash with Lenten promotions, resulting in the most profitable period for seafood sales.
So why not use this time to get out of your comfort zone? Put down the tuna and salmon and try something new; the seafood market has an abundance of options. Additionally, consumers are seeking out local and sustainable seafood like never before, representing some of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry for the past several years.
But which fish are the best to buy? Tools like EDF’s mobile Seafood Selector and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app are great ways to have sustainable seafood recommendations at your fingertips. Some fish pundits like Chef Alton Brown – host of Good Eats and other programs on the Food Network – go so far as to encourage consumers to ignore all the labels and just “Buy American.” In the absence of definitive information, this might be your best option. However, it’s usually a good bet that your fishmonger or server can tell you where their fish is from. Read More »