Empowered fishermen play an important role in reducing seafood waste

Seafood for sale at the Pike's Place Market in Seattle, WA. Photo: Kate Culzoni

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 »

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Mexico’s successful fishing cooperatives have important lessons for small-scale fisheries globally

Photo: Alexis Rife

Photo: Alexis Rife

Cozumel, Mexico might be better known for its diving and tourism, but it’s also home to some of the most successful fishing cooperatives and TURFs in the world. In a recent trip with our partners Rare and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB, we met with fishing cooperatives from Mexico to learn from these fishers and communities about successful TURF-Reserve models and conditions that have contributed to their success. It was an amazing opportunity to share learnings and experiences cross-country (and truly, around the globe).

First, some background on cooperatives. A cooperative is a group of fishers who communicate about and coordinate their fishing activity to meet their goals. Cooperatives can perform a range of activities, from coordinating fishing activities to participating in co-management, and even marketing their products. Successful cooperatives also sustainably manage their fishery so that the species are healthy and simultaneously provide for sustainable livelihoods for fishers.

Fishing cooperatives can be especially critical to sustainable fisheries management, especially in areas where governance is weak. Many cooperatives also invest a portion of their profits in community projects, which increases awareness of the importance of fishing resources as an important source of income and prosperity for the community as a whole. Read More »

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Sustainable fishing is now within reach for two fishing communities in the Philippines

By: Emilie Litsinger & Lito Mancao (Director, Technical Operations, Rare Philippines)

Photo: Rare Philippines

Photo: Rare Philippines

The communities of Tinambac and Cantilan recently approved the first ever TURF+Reserve designs in the Philippines. This accomplishment follows months of hard work by the Fish Forever team and our talented on-site coordinators, and collaboration with the local government units, village leaders, key agencies, and, most importantly fishers, and community members.

This effort is part of the Fish Forever (FF) program: a collaboration of EDF, Rare, and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) that empowers fishing communities in the developing tropics to manage their near-shore fisheries with a proven, sustainable management approach called TURF+Reserves.  In the Philippines, the goal of FF is to create a network of TURF+Reserves both within municipal waters (0-15km) and between adjoining municipalities.

These are historic milestones for the communities of Tinambac and Cantilan for many reasons.  Engaged communities and fishers laid the groundwork for sustainable fisheries management by working through and discussing their options to land on a design that works for them and meets their needs. Read More »

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CFF Supports New Fishing Community-Led Nonprofit in Monterey


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.

To learn more about CFF’s loan to the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust, listen to my radio interview.

Posted in Pacific, Seafood| Tagged | Comments are closed

TURF Tools: Exploring tools to help restore small-scale fisheries

Photo: Kaia Joye Moyer

Photo: Kaia Joye Moyer

By:  Kaia Joye Moyer, Masters Student at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management

It is 5am. The sun is just rising, but Hermes Arandas, a fisher from Totolan, Dauis, Bohol in the Philippines, is anything but just waking up. Today he and six fellow fishers are pulling their banca, a long slender outrigger canoe into the boat landing area. The men left the harbor at 4 pm the previous day and have been out fishing all night.  Hermes tells me that he remembers fishing with his father. Back then, the fish were not far from shore, but today they can’t be found there.  In order to continue to support his family, Hermes must fish farther and longer because catch is decreasing and fish are getting smaller.

Unfortunately Hermes is not alone in his story. More than 90% of the fishermen around the world are small-scale fishers like Hermes, mostly living in developing nations. And while these fishers provide half of the global fish catch, they are also particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they rely on fish for both their livelihood and food source

It is stories like Hermes’ that brought us to the Philippines.

Read More »

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TURFtools: Exploring and Piloting Tools for Oceans Sustainability

TURFBlog1Small-scale coastal fisheries are central to the health of the ocean, livelihood, poverty alleviation and food security for millions around the world, but today many of them are severely threatened by chronic overfishing.

As the population increases and demand for seafood continues to rise, fishers harvest more, resulting in declining fish populations.  Open access fishing, in which anyone can fish anywhere, as much as they can, is at the root of the overfishing problem.

As more and more people harvest the fish, no one is held responsible for making sure the fish don’t run out. Instead, fishers try to catch as much fish as possible, as quickly as possible, because they believe that if they don’t, someone else will get there first.

That’s why EDF is working with small-scale fishers and communities to implement fisheries management programs that rewards sustainable fishing practices.  Read More »

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