Despite major challenges facing our oceans, fishing communities around the world can be thriving and abounding in fish within our lifetimes. Improving management and practices can lead to healthier oceans that in turn support more fish in the water, more food for communities and improved livelihoods for fishermen.
We are optimistic that this brighter future is within reach.
Here are 5 reasons why:
The Tremendous Potential of Our Oceans: Our oceans can support more harvests, more profits and more fish biomass in the water if managed sustainably. New research undertaken with our partners at the University of California – Santa Barbara and the University of Washington shows we can have more fish in the water, more fish to feed a growing planet and more money to support the world’s fishing communities in our lifetimes under a management system of improved policies and practices. The research shows that the most gains can come from establishing secure fishing rights, which ends the desperate race to overfish, and empowers fishing communities to be stewards of their resource. Learn more about our global work.
Belize Adopts Fishing Rights, Nationwide: In June 2016, Belize made history by becoming the first country in the world to adopt a national, multispecies secure fishing rights program for small-scale fisheries. This groundbreaking policy came after years of struggling to address illegal fishing and the threat of overfishing in Belize. In order to protect the vital barrier reef ecosystem along with the livelihoods of local fishermen and the food security for all Belizeans, two pilot sites were launched in July 2011 to explore secure fishing rights options. The results were incredible. Fishermen enjoyed better catches and decreases in illegal fishing activity, all while reef fish populations started to recover. The pilot programs were so successful that fishing communities worked to get “Managed Access” implemented nationwide. Learn more about this historic milestone.
Celebrating 12 fish that are delicious and sustainable: Knowing which fish are good sustainable choices can sometimes be difficult, even for the most informed fish buyers. That’s why the Eat These Fish Campaign highlights twelve US fish species that have come back from the brink and are ready for menus and plates all over the country. The campaign aims to raise awareness and appreciation for the comeback of U.S. fisheries and many underutilized fish in order to help fishermen, energize chefs and strengthen the supply chain for sustainable seafood. The campaign has been a great success with events in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and beyond that bring together fishermen, chefs and others across the seafood industry. Learn more about the Eat These Fish Campaign.
Fishing Rights in Sweden’s Demersal Fishery:In 2013, the countries bordering the Skagerrak in the North Sea (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) discussed implementing a ban on throwing, or “discarding” fish overboard when they caught too many fish or fish that were too small. This ban, or “landing obligation,” became a cornerstone of the reformed EU’s Common Fisheries Policy which was finalized in 2014. This policy created controversy in Sweden because their collective quota allocation system uses weekly allowances, meaning the implementation of the landing obligation could cause the shutdown of the entire fleet if a quota for one species is exhausted. It was clear that a new management system was needed. Thanks to key leaders in the Swedish fishery, Swedish fishermen were able to come together to identify challenges and recommend new management options. The new system—which most likely will be implemented in January 2017—will enable fishermen to swap quotas so they can balance their catches with their quotas, avoiding shutdowns for the country’s most important fisheries in 2017. Learn more about our work in Sweden.
The State of US Fisheries is Strong: We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to fisheries management in the United States. This year’s NOAA Status of Stock Report confirmed that the management reforms implemented over the last decade are delivering remarkable results across the country. For example, it showed that 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 – is continuing to increase and hit an all-time high in 2015. These promising numbers are a result of fishermen, managers and conservationists working to end unsustainable management and implement reforms that incentivize conservation. Find out more about the positive state of U.S. fisheries.
In yesterday’s New York Times, Oceana’s Gib Brogan raised serious concerns in an Opinion piece, “A Knockout Blow for American Fish Stocks,” about both the future facing New England cod and the New England Management Council’s stewardship of the region’s fisheries resource. We share many of Gib’s concerns.
Fisheries management is too often presented as a choice between protecting the environment, on the one hand, and the economic interests of fishermen and coastal communities on the other. But we know from our experience in United States that the two are inextricably linked. With many fisheries around the country rebounding, fishermen are among the primary beneficiaries as catch limits increase. Conversely in New England, the collapse of cod presents a significant challenge to coastal fishing businesses; and the recent initiatives of the council on habitat and monitoring are dangerous precisely because they further jeopardize the fishery’s long-term prospects. Read More »
Gardens of the Queen, Cuba. Photo: Noel Lopez Fernandez
By: Kendra Karr & Rod Fujita
There is a general consensus that transitioning to ecosystem-based fisheries management will result in better outcomes for both marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them. But what exactly does that mean, and how exactly can fisheries management get there?
Ecosystem-based fisheries management has been thoroughly debated and there are many aspects to it. But one thing seems clear. When developing conservation and management goals, the entire ecosystem should be considered rather than just an individual fish population.
To actually achieve such goals, scientists and managers would need to quantify fishing targets and limits and then take actions intended to maintain fisheries and the ecosystem within a “safe operating space” associated with the maintenance of a variety of ecosystem goods and services. In our new publication, we have moved one step closer to identifying these fishing targets and limits for management in multi-species fisheries in coral reefs. Read More »
Territorial Use Rights for Fishing, or TURFs, have been in place for centuries in fishing communities around the world. In a TURF, fishery participants have a secure, exclusive privilege to fish in a defined area. Many fishery policy experts view TURFs and catch share programs as separate options for managing fisheries. TURFs are a type of catch share, since the area-based privileges assigned under a TURF provide the same rewards for stewardship as quota-based privileges.
In recent decades fishery managers have channeled the historical successes of this approach by formally recognizing customary TURFs, applying them to more fisheries and experimenting with modern adaptations.
Community-based territorial rights that have existed for centuries are now formally recognized by national law in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Palau. Empowered by national law promoting traditional community-based management, the Safata District of Samoa implemented a district-wide TURF in 2000. Bylaws developed by the community manage members’ fishing efforts and limit outsiders’ access. Safata’s leaders have further improved biological performance by establishing a network of no-take reserves. With a formalized role in management, the district has received strong community support, high regulatory compliance and increased abundance for important species.
TURF systems have been used in different types of fisheries, but they are particularly well-suited for managing near shore fisheries where there is a clear spatial range of fishing activity. While these systems are ideal for less mobile species that don’t move beyond TURF boundaries, they can also be designed for more mobile species. Read More »
Whether in school, at work, or at play, we’ve all experienced the value of working collectively to achieve a common goal. Many fisheries around the world are successfully managed by providing a structure for collaboration between fishermen via Cooperative catch shares.
In a Cooperative catch share, one or more groups of fishing participants, or “Cooperatives”, are allocated a secure portion of the catch or a dedicated fishing area. In exchange, they are responsible for accepting certain management responsibilities. Many fishing communities around the world have traditionally managed their coastal resources cooperatively, leveraging their local knowledge and relationships to achieve common goals. Recognizing the success of this approach, many fisheries are building upon this traditional practice, while also adapting to the realities of today’s increasingly global fishery markets.
There are hundreds of Cooperatives around the world. They have formed in different ways and have various functions and capacities. But when it comes to their ability to manage fisheries, they share a common (perhaps obvious) theme:Cooperatives work best when people cooperate. Cooperatives have demonstrated that fishermen working together (often hand-in-hand with fishery managers) can improve fishery science, tailor management to local conditions, increase profits and respond to complex management challenges such as discarding and habitat impacts. Read More »
[Video credit: Archipelago, NMFS and Frank Mirarchi- FV Barbara Peters]
Collecting timely, accurate and complete information from fishing vessels is fundamental to successful fisheries management. There is an important nexus between the quantity and quality of data collected by monitoring programs that are used for fisheries science and management that makes it more credible to industry and other stakeholders.
EDF continues to work to improve the performance of New England groundfish sectors by supporting the design and implementation of a cost-effective and comprehensive monitoring program that incorporates the use of electronic monitoring (EM). The current crisis facing the groundfish fishery with low stock abundance and resulting quota cuts, and high uncertainty of stock assessments, highlights the need to produce reliable fisheries information. Read More »