Small-scale coastal fisheries are central to the health of the ocean, livelihood, poverty alleviation and food security for millions around the world, but today many of them are severely threatened by chronic overfishing.
As the population increases and demand for seafood continues to rise, fishers harvest more, resulting in declining fish populations. Open access fishing, in which anyone can fish anywhere, as much as they can, is at the root of the overfishing problem.
As more and more people harvest the fish, no one is held responsible for making sure the fish don’t run out. Instead, fishers try to catch as much fish as possible, as quickly as possible, because they believe that if they don’t, someone else will get there first.
That’s why EDF is working with small-scale fishers and communities to implement fisheries management programs that rewards sustainable fishing practices. Read More »
Photo credits: Noel Lopez Fernandez, Jason Houston, Carlos Aguilera
Today, fisheries provide just a fraction of their potential in terms of food and income. Although many threats, including climate change and habitat loss, contribute to the declining health of the oceans, overfishing remains the leading cause of fishery depletion worldwide. Globally, 40% of fisheries are in deep trouble and outdated management is squandering more than 50 billion dollars in potential income.
The good news is that by tackling overfishing, we can unleash the oceans’ natural resilience and achieve a dramatic recovery in fish populations.
We are making progress every day transitioning more fisheries to sustainable management policies and practices that 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. Read More »
Gumercindo Cano, a Managed Access fisherman, takes the meat out of a conch shell Photo credit: Heather Paffe
Fishing in the developing tropics looks very different from fishing in the United States. It’s easy to forget that millions of people around the world rely on wild fish for their daily protein and survival, rather than being able to purchase it from a grocery store. This is the case in the countries where EDF will work in partnership with Rare and University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) on our ‘Fish Forever’ project. Fish Forever will focus on work with communities in the developing tropics to reduce overfishing and implement new guidelines that will allow fisheries to recover and more consistently provide the nutrition that so many depend upon. Part of that work will establish territorial user rights in fisheries (TURFs – called Managed Access in Belize), coupled with no-take reserves (replenishment zones/Marine Protected Areas) to advance sustainable fisheries, empower fishermen and bring those solutions to scale.
I recently returned from a governance committee trip to Belize with our partners, Brett Jenks, President of Rare, and Steve Gaines, Dean of UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and principal investigator for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. This trip was a vital way to connect with the community and government on the ground in Belize and understand the skills that each member of the partnership brings to the table. Read More »
On this Earth Day, take a moment to appreciate the vastness and intricacies of our world’s oceans. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the swirling currents continuously circulating the globe. It is amazing that science can meticulously catalog natural systems and present them to those without the ability to see what our Earth looks like from space. What this stunning NASA visualization does not show, are the numerous challenges facing the oceans such as overfishing, ocean acidification, oil spill contamination and plastic waste. While these challenges are largely hidden beneath the waves, increasing awareness, education, scientific research and advocacy have illuminated them. These challenges impact not only the fish and other creatures that live in the ocean, but the billions of people worldwide who depend on clean, healthy oceans for food and eco-tourism.
Fortunately, a growing momentum to save our oceans is emanating from all corners of the world as people see the value and imminent need to preserve marine resources for future generations. The World Bank announced a Global Partnership for Oceans last February 2012, which brings together governments, international organizations, civil society groups and members of the private sector with the common goal of assembling knowledge and financial resources to solve the threats facing ocean health and productivity. This partnership represents a concrete collaboration between global stakeholders to restore the oceans to health, and we are proud to be a part of this effort. Read More »
All fishing communities have one thing in common: they depend on healthy, productive fish stocks. Catch share management programs benefit fishing communities by helping to stabilize fisheries. Fishing is inherently unpredictable, because it depends so much on ever-changing conditions in the oceans. Since well-designed catch share systems give fishermen more flexibility to time their fishing activities, they are significantly better than traditional management methods at helping fishermen cope with negative fluctuations in barometric readings or in dock prices paid for the fish they deliver.
Well-designed catch share systems also include tools and mechanisms that benefit communities, things you won’t find under traditional management.
Over the years, thousands of fishing jobs have been lost due to declining fishing opportunities. Under conventional management, fishermen face ever-increasing limits on harvest levels, and shorter and shorter fishing seasons. When fishing is allowed, conventional management often forces fishermen into a dangerous and inefficient race for fish.
One example; in the days before catch shares, the West Coast trawl fishery was on a downward economic spiral. Processing plants were shuttered, infrastructure was lost, and ports became shadows of their former selves. It was death by a thousand cuts – with extended fishery closures, a federal disaster declaration, dwindling trip limits, and ever-decreasing annual catch limits, fishermen were leaving the industry and the coastal communities that relied on groundfish landings were spiraling downward. Under status quo management in place at the time, a handful of major players bought up permits and consolidated ownership. This meant even fewer owner-operators on the water. Read More »