Trawl gear modifications produce reductions in bycatch, fuel use and seafloor contact – all with increased catching efficiency.
Over the past couple of years EDF’s Pacific team has been privileged to work with fishermen, scientists, fishing net manufacturers and many others on a three-stage project to demonstrate the feasibility of improved trawl net designs on the West Coast. The video shown here describes the amazing progress we’ve made together and indicates a path-forward for disseminating our results to fishermen everywhere.
Brad’s recognition as a Champion of Change is an acknowledgement of the tough times that he and many other West Coast fishermen endured as their fishery failed and they struggled to bring it back. Brad often recalls when it hit rock bottom, and his wife suggested one day that maybe it was time to sell their boat. “Honey, I said to her, there’s nobody to sell the boat to!” remembers Brad. “You see, nobody wanted to buy the boats, because they couldn’t see a future for the fishery. It was a rough, rough time for everyone involved.”
From that point forward Brad put his shoulder to the wheel, attending every meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council for years, helping to hammer out the framework for a catch share fishery management program. That program – which launched in January of 2011 – allocated specific annual quota amounts to trawl fisherman based on their catch history, eliminated the “race for fish” culture of the groundfish fleet, dramatically reduced bycatch, and ushered in a new era of accountability and cooperation among fishermen and regulators. Read More »
Cast your mind forward – 10, 15, 50 years. What do you see? The world around us is changing: resource needs are transforming alongside a booming global population. Technology is evolving exponentially, informing how we respond to daily life. Our planet’s climate and the delicate balance of our oceans are under threat.
With over 3 billion people in this changing world relying on oceans for sustenance, where do fish, and fishing, fit into this future?
The world’s oceans have never been higher up the political agenda. Three major international events on ocean governance took place in the last month: the second UN Preparatory Committee on a legally binding instrument for the high seas; the IUCN global congress; and the star-spangled Our Ocean Conference, addressed by President Obama, COP21 President Ségolène Royal, and Leonardo DiCaprio (to name a few). Meanwhile, in London, HRH The Prince of Wales recently convened a meeting – through his International Sustainability Unit (ISU) – to ‘take stock’ of the global transition to sustainable fisheries, and scan the horizon for emerging challenges and opportunities. (Read the full meeting report here).
Fisheries and the future
A keynote speaker at the ISU event projected a global population of 18 billion, and a human life expectancy of 300 years (just around the corner – think your grandchildren, or their children). Another speaker forecast a 60 million ton shortage in seafood products in comparison to demand, within a generation. In a world where billions (often in the most food-insecure nations) rely on protein from fish and other seafood, this vastly increased pressure on resources paints a bleak picture for global fisheries and food security. But we see a brighter future where we can rebuild global fisheries for more fish, more food and more prosperous fishing communities. Read More »
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 »
David Stevens comes from a long line of St Ives fishermen and is part of his family run business. Their vessel, The Crystal Sea is a 20 meter trawler working out of Newlyn, which goes to sea 3-5 days depending on the weather, so as to maximise the quality and freshness of their catch. David skippers alongside his brother, Alec, with a crew of three others and their father working ashore with the nets and supplies.
I have been fishing now for nearly 25 years and in all of that time, the decisions that really matter, about how we fish and the amount we catch have been largely kept out of industry’s hands. The decisions made in Brussels by the European Union have had a huge impact on the way we run our businesses. We are often left wondering how seemingly straightforward policies have become so complicated and how, when introduced at the industry level, these laws just don’t work. I am hopeful, however, that fishermen can now lead the necessary management solutions to forge a prosperous and sustainable future. Read More »
Astoria, Oregon fisherman Kevin Dunn is familiar to EDF’s Pacific Ocean team because we worked with him closely to redesign fishing nets and reduce bycatch. Now he’s becoming familiar to millions of others through a Whole Foods Market commercial that debuted during the World Series.
The Whole Foods ad is a great illustration of a simple but powerful idea: well-designed fishery management systems can not only result in conservation gains and a healthier environment, but also economic gains for the people that rely on the ocean for their livelihood.
This has been a big year for fishermen in the West Coast groundfish catch share program. It received a sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council and an upgrade in sustainability ratings from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for many of the fish they catch. When the MSC certified the fishery sustainable, it noted that this was the most diverse and complex fishery ever considered for certification, and emphasized the important role that catch shares played in recovering the fishery.
The fact that Kevin and his crew now represent the very best in sustainable seafood sourcing is remarkable, and very hopeful. In 2000, the fishery was formally declared a disaster due to decades-long mismanagement. EDF worked with fishermen and seafood suppliers to turn this fishery around by advancing new management solutions, including catch shares. We also provided tools to help fishermen and suppliers through the transition — such as innovative new lending mechanisms like the California Fisheries Fund. Today their trawl catch is “independently rated for sustainability; traceable from dock to store” and they are part of a durable industry that supplies about 250 million pounds of sustainable seafood every year.
Kevin and his boat the Iron Lady are also featured in a 3-minute YouTube video with Whole Foods supplier Bornstein Seafoods, the company to which Kevin delivers his catch. It’s a nice glimpse of what our West Coast fishermen friends do for a living and the positive relationships that often emerge after catch shares go into effect. In traditionally managed fisheries it’s unusual to see fishermen partnering closely with seafood processors. But with improved fishery management comes closer cooperation and new possibilities for partnerships between fishermen and seafood buyers.
In addition to forming partnerships, fishermen are able to spend more time innovating with their gear and carefully planning their businesses. The net you see spilling its catch onto the Iron Lady’s deck is one we helped Kevin test. It has a built-in excluder device that allows halibut – a non-target species for Kevin – to escape unharmed. Another example of a solution that works for fish and fishermen!