Portland workshop focuses on how to make management work better for fishermen

Photo credit: John Rae

Photo credit: Corey Arnold

Last week, EDF joined with a broad array of stakeholders to convene the 3rd Pacific Groundfish Quota Program Workshop in Portland. Following on similar conferences we helped organize in 2010 and 2012, the workshop provided fishermen, processors, Council members and staff, NMFS officials and others involved in the fishery with an opportunity to acknowledge the successes and address the challenges of the West Coast catch share program.

In order for fishermen, processors and management personnel to work together toward their common goal of “getting it right,” the workshop steering committee felt it was important to hold this event ahead of the agency’s upcoming 5-year program review.

Fittingly, a number of workshop speakers began by looking back at conditions in this fishery in the 2000’s: too many boats chasing too few fish; multiple species identified as overfished; unreliable catch and discard data; and finally, a federal disaster declaration. Several of those problems have been remedied. Concurrent with full accountability in the fishery – which produces extremely high-quality data – the West Coast is seeing a historic resurgence of groundfish, and the Marine Stewardship Council now certifies the entire trawl fishery as sustainable. Meanwhile, recent upgrades from Seafood Watch brought 39 groundfish species up to either Green (Best Choice) or Yellow (Good Alternative) rankings.

Nevertheless, this program was designed to improve economic performance as well as conservation performance, and we heard loud and clear from fishermen and processors that the economic potential of the program is not fully being met. The agency’s process for clearing regulatory backlog is glacially slow; program-related costs are rising – even stranding some fishermen at the docks; and most of the total allowable catch is going un-harvested. NMFS heard from multiple speakers on these topics.

What they did not hear was anyone calling for a return to the bad old days. The groundfish quota program on the West Coast can and must be fixed. With over 160 attendees, the Portland workshop clearly showed that there is no lack of interest in doing so.

A final report from the workshop will:

  • Highlight potential actions that the Council, NMFS, and industry members can take to increase the value of the fishery;
  • Clarify why timely action on program refinements currently being considered are key to improving the economic performance of the fishery; and
  • Identify issues and potential solutions that should be explored during the program’s five-year review.

Our processor and fishermen-allies have been responsible for the program improvements we have seen to date, and have borne the costs of the failure to make additional, critical changes. We will be with them every step of the way in advocating for a fishery with enormous upside potential.

Posted in Domestic, Pacific| Tagged , , , | Read 1 Response

New study underscores urgency to rebuild global fisheries

By: Rod Fujita & Doug Rader

iStock_000029334204_smallerPeople have been catching fish for thousands of years, so you’d think by now we would have a pretty good idea of how fisheries are doing.  However, the two most basic numbers that you need to answer that question – how many fish are in the sea, and how many are being caught – have been highly uncertain.

A new study published in Nature by researchers at the University of British Columbia finds that the number of fish in the sea has been underestimated, and that the world’s fisheries should be more closely monitored. We couldn’t agree more.

It’s critically important for scientists to estimate these numbers so we can tell whether catch is too high, too low, or just right.  The stakes are enormous: these numbers and trends will determine what management actions are necessary to ensure that fisheries can continue to provide healthy food for billions of people and provide livelihoods for tens of millions. Read More »

Posted in International, Science/Research| Comments are closed

5 Reasons for Hope on World Fisheries Day 2015

EDFFavs04Picture the world’s oceans once again abounding in fish, as part of a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem that supplies people with an increasing amount of protein rich food.

This can be the future. Within our lifetimes, improved fishing policies and practices can help create much healthier oceans that support more fish, feed more people, and improve livelihoods. These outcomes go hand in hand, because a healthier, more resilient ocean is also one that can support larger harvests.

This World Fisheries Day, we are optimistic that despite challenges facing fisheries, there is a bright future for both fish populations, and the people who depend on them.

 

Here are 5 progress points from 2015 that give us hope:

  1. Global oceans can yield more fish, more food, and more prosperity: At the World Oceans Summit in June, we previewed a bio-economic model that shows a triple win for fisheries with smarter management. Our preliminary results show that global fisheries, if managed sustainably, could yield 23% more wild fish, generate 315% more profits, and boost the amount of fish left in the water for conservation by 112%. If we get fishing right, we can reverse the threats facing fisheries and coastal communities within our lifetimes. Read more here.

Read More »

Posted in Belize, Cuba, Domestic, Global Fisheries, International| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Sharks need smarter management and better data to recover and thrive

By Amada44 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Dusky Shark  (Carcharhinus obscurus) are extremely rare. This one is swimming at Seaworld Aquarium in Queensland, Australia. Photo by: Amada44 via Wikimedia Commons

Shark advocates at Oceana recently sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), claiming that the way the agency controls fishing on dusky sharks violates the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  Duskies are overfished and have suffered overfishing for years, even though it is illegal to retain them if they are caught.  The duskies’ plight highlights the shortcomings of bans and similar efforts when it comes to protecting vulnerable species like sharks, especially when they are caught alongside other, healthier species.

Over the last several years, more and more people have learned about both the importance of sharks and the ongoing threats to their existence. This is great news because sharks are among the most important creatures in the ocean, playing a vital role in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.  Plus, they’re really cool.  Formerly of interest exclusively to fish geeks like myself, Shark Week is now a widely celebrated summer ritual.  Shark finning, a deplorable practice where a shark’s fin is removed and the rest of its body is discarded at sea, has been banned in the United States since 2000, and more than 70 other countries have enacted similar bans.

Despite this progress, shark populations remain threatened and overfishing is common. The FAO reports that the market for sharks has actually increased, and many sharks die as bycatch as a side effect of fishing for other species at healthier population sizes, such as Atlantic swordfish (which has recovered after a focused conservation effort). Read More »

Posted in Domestic, Science/Research| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Fishing smarter can save lives

fishing safetyNPR’s Planet Money recently featured the Alaska Halibut fishery in a compelling story of how the commercial catch share system has dramatically improved safety for fishermen while preventing overfishing, ensuring a higher quality product, and allowing fishermen the time to invest in their fishing businesses.

Before the catch share, seasons were increasingly shortened until fishermen were forced to race against each other in 24 hour derbies—often risking their lives and their equipment.  After the new rules were put in place, fishermen were given a total number of fish they could catch, rather than being constrained by a short time window. The catch share program is part of the reason why the Coast Guard reported zero operational related commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska in Fiscal Year 2015.

Fishing is inherently dangerous but it’s still important to look at the several ways to make it safer. Inspections, the use of safety gear and training all make a difference. So can the way fishing regulations attempt to address overfishing. Read More »

Posted in Domestic, Pacific| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Honoring the ‘Founding Father’ of Marine Protection Science

Photo: Kennedy Warne

Photo: Kennedy Warne

All who enjoy the wild biodiversity of the seas should take a moment this week to mark the passing of Dr. Bill Ballantine, the Founding Father of what has become a fast-growing global network of marine protected areas.

The science of setting aside unique sanctuaries from development is an art that dates back centuries – at least on land. America’s own federally designated national parks, wildlife refuges, and forest reserves can be traced to the mid-1800s.

But ocean protection is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging only in the late 1970s. And it’s arguably more difficult to know how to chart, value and protect life that is hidden from view. Read More »

Posted in International| Read 1 Response
  • About this blog

    EDFish is the voice of oceans experts at EDF working around the world to create thriving oceans that provide more fish in the water, more food on the plate and thriving fishing communities.

    Follow us on Twitter


    Join us on Facebook

  • Get blog posts by email

    Subscribe via RSS

  • Categories

  • Comments Policy

    We reserve the right to modify or delete any comments that we deem as inappropriate.