EDFish

Selected tag(s): Fishermen

Seattle Times Cites Benefits of West Coast Catch Share Program

Winona J Docked in Newport, Oregon

“This is a really big deal,” said Will Stelle in a Sunday Seattle Times story which highlights the benefits of the groundfish catch share program on the West Coast. “It is restructuring the architecture of the fishery, building in very real and powerful incentives to do the right thing,” said the Northwest regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. The article cites several benefits that West Coast fishermen are seeing, including dramatic reduction of regulatory discards, fishing gear innovations and improved revenues. To read the full article, click here.

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‘Deadliest Catch’ Fisherman Explains How His Job is Less Deadly Thanks to Catch Shares

The Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch portrays just how dangerous commercial fishing can be. However, in today’s Wall Street Journal, Bering Sea fisherman and a cast member of the show, Scott Campbell, Jr., shares how the Alaska crab fishery is now significantly safer following the implementation of catch shares in August 2005. Read the full article here.

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Collaboration with Industry is Crucial to Protect Fish and Put Fishermen Back on the Water

Heather Paffe, Regional Director, Gulf of Mexico and Southeast

Heather Paffe, Regional Director, Gulf of Mexico and Southeast - EDF Oceans

In many fisheries, the rules for recreational fishing are tightened every year. This is bad for charter, tackle and other businesses; it keeps anglers off the water and it threatens the U.S.’s long-standing fishing heritage.

It’s clear that current fishing rules aren’t working.  EDF believes that collaboration between conservationists, fishermen, and managers is the best way to find a new management approach that works to protect fish – so that they’re more plentiful in the future – and put fishermen back on the water. If things don’t change, the federal government will continue to impose more rules, such as widespread closures.

Last week EDF hosted a collaborative workshop with for-hire (charter) fishermen from across the country to understand how their fishery management can be improved in order to truly recover popular fisheries.  Understanding if catch shares could work for for-hire fisheries was an important part of this discussion.  This workshop is one among many in which EDF has reached out to fishermen to better understand their concerns and discuss potential solutions that work to improve fishermen’s access and catches as well as recover fish populations.  Sportsmen already carry a well-known conservation ethic, which will help guide future progress.

Future access for responsible recreational fishing is threatened due to flawed federal management practices and a “business as usual” approach will only accelerate this trend. We can and should advance innovative reforms that build off the existing conservation ethic of sustainability through stewardship that our nation’s sportsmen embody. It all begins by starting the conversation.

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Catch Share Design Manual and Online Design Center Provide Guidance for Fishery Managers and Fishermen

Kate Bonzon, EDF Director of Design Services

Kate Bonzon, EDF Director of Design Services

Kate Bonzon leads Catch Share Design Services at EDF and authored the Catch Share Design Manual along with her team, Karly McIlwain, Kent C. Strauss, and Tonya Van Leuvan.

Overfishing is the biggest driver of declining fisheries globally, and conventional fishery management approaches have failed to correct this. Conventional management has led to unsafe derby-style fishing, increasingly shrinking fishing seasons, and low market prices all while fish populations in the ocean continue to decline.

We need a different approach.

Catch share management is a solution to overfishing that keeps fishermen on the water and fishing as fish resources recover. Under catch share management, managers establish a scientifically-set, fishery-wide catch limit; assign portions of the catch, or shares, to individuals or groups of fishermen; and hold them directly accountable to stay within the catch limit.

Increasingly, fishery managers and fishermen are looking to catch shares as a locally-designed solution to failed fisheries management (about 275 programs already exist worldwide in fisheries large and small). Identifying the biological, economic and social goals of a fishery and incorporating design elements to meet these goals is critical to the program’s success for fishermen, fishing communities and the resource. As fishery managers and fishermen go through the design process, they have a flexible array of options from which to choose.

But, understanding what options exist and what process works for catch share design has been a key challenge in program development. 

Now there’s a dynamic new tool and guide to help improve understanding of catch share programs around the world: the Catch Share Design Center.  The Design Center includes several new tools and resources:

  • The Catch Share Design Manual, which is the first-ever comprehensive overview and roadmap through the catch share design process, drawing on hundreds of fisheries in over 30 countries and expertise from over 60 fishery experts from around the world.  The Design Manual is not prescriptive, but rather, poses a series of questions and highlights frequently used approaches from around the world.  It describes a 7-Step process to guide and inform the design of catch shares for commercial fisheries, including four in-depth case studies of fisheries that have implemented catch shares. The case studies provide comprehensive, real-life examples of the design Steps and decisions in action.
  • The global database of catch share fisheries allows users to explore and understand the design elements and characteristics for 275 catch share programs worldwide. The database is dynamic, being updated regularly, including with information from viewers or other experts.
  • The directory of resources serves as a forum for catch share experts and businesses to connect with fishery managers and fishermen engaged in catch share design and implementation.
  • Go Fish, No Fish is a game-oriented teaching tool that illustrates the differences in conventional fishery management and catch shares.

The Catch Share Design Center seeks to provide cutting-edge information and tools to fishery managers, fishermen and others in order to advance the development and implementation of catch share programs.  We welcome your participation in this endeavor.

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Solutions That Work for the Environment and Economy are More Important Than Ever

We recently released a new video highlighting the results of our Gulf of Mexico Longline Gear Conversion Program, in which we helped nearly 50 boats convert to more environmentally friendly fishing gear in West Florida.

We launched the Longline Gear Conversion Program last year in response to regulations that shut down longline fishing, after the government found that the gear was “interacting” with too many sea turtles. The ban on this widely-used type of gear was devastating for many communities in West Florida.

Environmental Defense Fund believed there was a better way to keep fishermen on the water and sea turtles safe. Our program paid up to 50% of the costs for fishermen to covert to gear that was better for sea turtles and kept fishermen on the water. Many fishermen told us they wouldn’t have been able to make the gear change without our help.

This type of win-win solution is what EDF does best.

The 2010 BP oil disaster demonstrates that initiatives like this one, which help fishing communities and the environment, are more important than ever.

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3 Months In: New Bedford Standard Times Provides Insight into the Progress of Catch Shares in New England

Julie Wormser, NE Regional Director for EDF Oceans program.

Julie Wormser, NE Regional Director for EDF Oceans program.

This past Sunday, the New Bedford Standard Times published a set of three articles that gave insight into the progress of sectors (group catch shares) in Massachusetts. 

There is good news in the articles:

  • The fishermen who are fishing are seeing higher revenues, while others are waiting for prices to increase, a strategy they are free to employ under this system.
  • Sectors such as the one in New Bedford, managed by David deOliveira, are working together to manage their allocations of scarce stocks to “keep everyone fishing.”
  • Leasing allocations is of real value financially to fishermen considering retirement.

The articles also highlight improvements to the sector system that can and should be made as well as the challenges associated with low catch limits, which is entirely unrelated to catch shares. Many of these issues are currently being discussed by the industry, the New England Fisheries Management Council, and conservation groups. 

Many opportunities identified in the articles are a function of how the catch share was designed.  Catch shares can be designed to accommodate the communities that depend on fisheries. 

Catch limits

As Don Cuddy’s article points out, “Many fishermen believe their economic woes are not a result of sectors or any particular management system but from catch limits that they believe are set artificially low.”

The 2010 catch limits were developed based on NOAA’s best available science. But carefully targeted investments in science and scientific processes – including those outlined by Senators Kerry and Snowe in their recent appropriations request — can provide relatively quick improvement in assessments of key stocks, and may well increase allocation of certain stocks.

There are several design elements that can help the fleet through times of low catch limits.  For example, the Pacific groundfish fishery held back ten percent of the quota for “adaptive management” and has already dipped into that quota to provide additional allocations of a particularly weak stock—canary rockfish—for fishermen who lacked enough to legally fish for other species. 

Consolidation

In Steve Urbon’s NBST piece, he discusses the “consolidation of the industry.”  While that is a concern, it has to be weighed against the consolidation of the fleet that was occurring under the previous Days-At-Sea (DAS) management system.

In the New England groundfish fishery, in 2001, 1,100 active boats used 65,347 groundfish DAS for an average of 60 DAS per active vessel.  In 2007, 574 active boats used 32,804 DAS for an average of 57 DAS per active vessel.   As the number of days fishermen were allowed out on the water dropped dramatically, so too, did the number of boats fishing.

There are design elements in catch share systems around the world that can alleviate some of the consolidation concerns while supporting fleet diversity, smaller ports, and small-scale fishermen with less access to capital. 

For example, quota accumulation caps could be used to limit the amount of fish that any one participant has access to.  The Interspecies Committee of the New England Fishery Management Council voted unanimously at its April 2010 meeting to recommend to the full Council that accumulation caps be developed and implemented for the 20 groundfish stocks managed under sectors.  This action can help protect the smaller boats by preventing the fleet from being dominated by a few big players.

Limiting permit transferability, ownership and use is also used to achieve specific objectives.  For example, some catch share systems require a certain percentage of the harvest to be landed in specific ports to protect the shoreside infrastructure.  Other fisheries require quota owners to be on board in order to catch their share in order to discourage corporations from acquiring large amounts of quota.   

Moving forward

Much of New England’s fishing community has struggled over the past several decades.  Regulations meant to bring back once-abundant cod, flounders and other groundfish have instead squeezed the fleet’s profitability.

Sectors can help the New England groundfishery move towards an increase in fish populations; an increase in per-boat revenues; a dramatic reduction in bycatch and an increase in the use of sustainable fishing practices.

The New Bedford Standard Times has raised important questions and opportunities for improvement in the groundfish fishery.  Now is the time to make refinements to New England’s groundfish sectors.  There are many options and the best outcomes will likely occur when all stakeholders – fishermen, shoreside businesses, conservation groups, legislators, and Council members — participate in the process with the shared goal of creating a fishery with healthy fish stocks and thriving fishing communities.

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