Tom Lalley, EDF Oceans Communications Director and author of this blog post.
A frenetic week in Washington, D.C. brought Congressional leaders together with fishermen. Early mornings, full days and late nights were the norm as fishermen spread the message that catch shares are important for their future. Funding for the national catch shares program is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.
As fishermen face closures for the fisheries they depend on, they told lawmakers how catch shares avoid closures and allow fishing to continue even as stocks recover. Catch shares avoid the blow dealt by closures to communities and fishing jobs.
Many fishermen also zeroed in on the universal call for better fisheries science. Catch shares give you robust catch accounting and monitoring, whereas conventionally-managed fisheries often have few data with minimal monitoring coverage.
Approximately 50 fishermen have arrived in Washington, D.C. today to tell members of Congress how important catch shares are to their future. Funding for the national catch shares program is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. The fishermen are in Washington to talk to their Congressional representatives and Senators about how conventional management is increasingly pushing fishermen off the water and how catch shares is a solution that keeps fishermen working – even while fish stocks recover.
Today more than 60 federal stocks are overfished or undergoing overfishing. Thousands of fishing jobs have been lost as fisheries have declined under the current management system. This adverse impact from conventional management continues to increase as many valuable fisheries face huge closures or dwindling seasons, which will have devastating impacts on fishing jobs and coastal communities.
During their visits to Capitol Hill, fishermen will tell lawmakers how catch shares are locally designed to meet economic, social, and conservation goals. Catch shares management is not a one-size-fits-all approach; rather programs are designed to meet the specific needs and goals of each fishery.