New study concludes that catch shares are working for fishermen in the U.S.

iStock_000014104307MediumThe good news keeps rolling in about the performance of fisheries managed with secure fishing rights – called “catch shares” in the United States.

An important, detailed analysis of all 20 US catch-share fisheries, authored by scientists and economists of NOAA’s Office of Science and Technology and six regional fisheries science centers, was just issued in the journal, Marine Policy.

The bottom line is that the 13 well-studied catch shares show strong performance, with important increases in an index that adds together a wide array of economic productivity elements and that takes into account changes in relative fish abundance.  Even in just the first three years, that index gains an average of 22% versus baseline years (see Table 7).  For the six longest-established catch shares, the index is an average of 77% higher after the third year, with no increase lower than 14% (see Table 8). Read More »

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Congress Shouldn’t Destabilize Our Fisheries

iStock_000014939237_MediumNext week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Fisheries issues often avoid the partisanship that otherwise rules (some would say cripples) Washington, but the Natural Resources Committee voted out H.R. 1335 strictly on party lines, and we expect the same outcome next week.  That’s a shame, not only because of the breakdown of bipartisanship, but also because this is a bad bill.

Many have written about how much U.S. fisheries management has improved over the last several years. A recent report from NOAA Fisheries confirms that overfishing numbers hit all-time low in 2014, and that 37 species around the country have rebuilt since 2000. EDF is proud to have worked side-by-side with the fishing industry as these gains have been made – not only because they’re delivering a healthier marine environment but also because they’re supporting more profitable fishing businesses and more prosperous coastal communities.  Unfortunately, H.R. 1335 would jeopardize this progress.  It would also put unnecessary restrictions on the decisions of the regional fishery management councils, long the bedrock of fishery management in the United States and a means for local fishermen and others to participate directly in the rulemaking process. Read More »

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A Path Towards Strengthened Fisheries Management in Brazil

brazil1By: Erica Cunningham

Brazil represents one of South America’s most important countries in terms of small-scale fisheries. The country boasts one of the longest coastlines on the continent and more than 60 percent of landings come from artisanal fishing.  In addition, 98 percent of registered fishers in Brazil are small-scale.  However, the country remains a net importer of seafood and 80 percent of all fishing activities are considered to be unsustainable in terms of management. Beyond the science, there is real urgency to addressing this issue.  Billions of people in Brazil and around the world, often the poorest and most marginalized, depend on fish for protein. The combination of these factors make Brazil a perfect country for the Fish Forever partnership. Read More »

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Mexico is making strides to improve fisheries management and conservation

Photo credit: Carlos Aguilar

Photo credit: Carlos Aguilar

2015 looks to be the year Mexico takes significant action to improve the sustainability of its fisheries.

Mexico is the world’s 16th largest fishing nation and one of the globe’s richest in marine biodiversity. The productive waters of both of Mexico's coastlines teem with a wide array of species that sustain commercially important fisheries.  These include hundreds of commercially valuable species of finfish, clams, squid, sardines, and tuna that share the waters of the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean with wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seabirds, and turtles.

This year, Mexico's Federal Fisheries Commission (CONAPESCA) and Federal Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA), are working together with fishing communities and state authorities to implement stronger measures to protect marine biodiversity and ensure sustainable fishing livelihoods.  Read More »

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Brazilian Fisheries: Big, Beautiful and Complex

Fishing shack along a mangrove channel, Brazil

Fishing shack along a mangrove channel, Brazil

I recently visited Brazil for the first time to work with our partners in Fish Forever to choose sites to work in over the next several years, with the goal of turning fisheries with declining yields and profits into success stories for fishermen, their communities, and the environment. Fish Forever is a partnership between Rare, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Brazil’s 300,000 square mile shelf produced about 550,000 tons of seafood in 2011, worth over $US 1.5 billion, and employs about 1 million people according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Read More »

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A guide for reducing discards in Europe’s fisheries

EDF_Tools.indd

Many fishermen in Europe and around the world have been forced to dump fish, often dead and dying, overboard for decades. This practice, “discarding,” is one that is abhorred by both the fishing industry and environmental groups. While the exact scale of discarding is unknown, it’s estimated that each year roughly 6.8 million tons of fish are discarded globally.

In January 2013, the European Union agreed on a new set of fisheries laws as part of a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The most significant and perhaps the most challenging of these is Article 15, known as the landing obligation, which bans the practice of discarding in European fisheries.  It is a challenge to require fishermen to record, land and account for all fish that make it aboard their boats requiring a huge operational change for most fleets. Environmental Defense Fund is committed to working with fishery stakeholders to find smart solutions to challenges they face, which is why we’ve just released a free manual to help fisheries meet the landing obligation without losing the social and economic benefits of fish. Read More »

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