Selected tags: Fishing

It’s Official: U.S. fisheries continued their upward trend in 2012

Photo Credit: NOAA

Each year, the National Marine Fisheries Service provides the public with a “statistical snapshot” of fish landings in the United States. This week, the numbers for 2012 were released via the agency’s Fisheries in the United States report. The national picture in terms of the quantity and value of fish landed was once again encouraging. And although we didn’t quite reach the historic level of 2011—which set a new record for landings value —the upward trend enabled by improved fisheries management is unmistakable.

The raw numbers in the report are another reminder of the critical role fishing plays as an economic driver in the United States. U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood in 2012, valued at $5.1 billion. The ex-vessel value of seafood landed in Alaska alone was $1.7 billion; $618.2 million in Massachusetts; $448.5 million in Maine. Those figures don’t include economic benefits derived throughout the value chain, with jobs created and supported at the docks, in processing, transportation and sales.

Recreational fisheries are also experiencing robust activity.   More than nine million anglers took 70 million trips last year, catching nearly 380 million fish. The estimated total catch weight was more than 200 million pounds, the most popular species being spotted seatrout, Atlantic croaker, black sea bass, summer flounder and red drum. Numerous other reports and studies have documented the economic benefits that recreational fishing stimulates, supporting jobs in industries ranging from marine manufacturing to tourism.

Without healthy, sustainable fisheries, none of these benefits would accrue. It’s true that we have more work to do to ensure that all our nation’s fisheries are being managed for long-term health, and that fishermen in some regions still face daunting economic challenges. But taken as a whole, this week’s report provides further evidence that the reforms of recent years are paying dividends. The value of commercial seafood landed in 2012 was almost 20% higher than the average of the last decade.

Ultimately that means more money in the pockets of fishermen—who in many parts of the country are seeing a return on their investment in new rights-based management approaches that incentivize conservation and ensure compliance with science-based catch limits.

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Managing Our Nations Fisheries 3 Conference: Take away messages

America’s fishing laws are generally working well to rebuild fish stocks, but there is still work to be done to make sure that our sustainable fisheries are sustainable for fishermen. That was the takeaway message from the recent gathering of the nation’s top fisheries advisors, scientists, members of regional councils and the eNGO community who gathered in Washington DC for the “Managing Our Nations Fisheries 3” conference on May 7-9. The conference convened to discuss how concepts, policies, and practice of fishery sustainability can be advanced to make the system work better for fishermen and fishing communities. It provided a forum for information exchange and an opportunity to hear a wide range of perspectives on the sustainability of fish stocks and ecosystem, and the fishing communities that depend on them.

This conference is an important exercise because it gives the entire fishing community (managers, fishermen, NGOs, industry etc.) the opportunity to think broadly about what’s been happening on the water and apply it to big policy issues that need to be resolved, clarified or improved. Among the issues identified during the conference:

  1. Recreational fishermen would like more representation and consideration in fisheries management decisions
  2. Forage fish protection is a topic being heavily studied by NGO groups
  3. Regional councils are interested in innovating around the 10 year rebuilding timelines mandated in the 2006 Magnuson law.
  4. Fishing stakeholders are interested in pursuing American seafood certification to assure economic stability for domestic fisheries
  5. A central theme reiterated by scientists, fishery stakeholders and NOAA is that accurate and timely data information is essential to making informed management decisions. NOAA and councils need to work more closely with fishermen and innovate solutions for data poor fisheries.

In the United States, catch shares have brought stability and sustainability to fisheries once in turmoil from overfishing. From the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico and all the way to the Bering Sea, fishermen have more stable and flexible businesses and fisheries are recovering from years of overfishing.  If you add our neighbors to the north, Canada, there are 15 catch shares that have shown significant improvements in the stability of jobs, revenues and increased safety.  All over the world fishermen are learning from the work that American fishermen and fishery managers have done to save our nation’s fisheries. Read More »

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EDF on the Radio: The California Fisheries Fund Helps West Coast Fishermen

CFF Director, Phoebe Higgins with Steve Fitz, a loan recipient

Last week, Phoebe Higgins, Director of our California Fisheries Fund, appeared on the John Young KUIC Hometown Morning show to discuss the productive work the fund is doing to help West Coast fishermen finance their transition to more sustainable fishing practices, improve the profitability of their fishing businesses and provide seafood consumers with the fresh and sustainably caught fish that they love.

Phoebe also discussed with John a new sustainable management program that is helping fishermen on the West Coast grow their fishing operations as well as allowing fish populations to rebound.  The Fund coupled with the Pacific Groundfish catch share program, is helping to maintain and grow California’s highly-valued ocean economy —worth $43 billion and contributing more than 474,000 jobs to the state. Fishermen have more time to fish carefully which improves their safety and dramatically reduces the amount of bycatch and discarded fish. In turn, fishermen are able to bring in higher quality fish to seafood consumers and market their fish at higher prices.

Listen to Phoebe discuss the California Fisheries Fund project and catch share programs on the show and see how one fisherman is benefitting from his loan.

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Greenwire E&E: Loan program that supports Calif. fishing industry wins sustainability award

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500

Laura Petersen, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A loan program dedicated to helping West Coast fisheries become more sustainable earned California's top environmental honor.

The California Fisheries Fund received the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses for finding innovative ways to protect natural resources while also strengthening the economy.

"It fits perfectly into the kind of themes the governor has chosen to promote," said Jim Marxen, a spokesman for the California Environmental Protection Agency, which handed out 17 awards last night. "Good environmental practices and a healthy economy must live together, and really this project is an epitome of that."

The $4 million fund, which began in 2008 with support from the state and foundations, provides loans to fishermen, processors and distributors to finance upgrades that result in more sustainable practices.For example, fisherman Steve Fitz recently received a loan to purchase his uncle's boat and continue the family tradition of using Scottish seine fishing gear, which herds ground fish into light nets that are far gentler on the surrounding habitat and reduces bycatch of other marine life.

"Money isn't that readily available to borrow in our industry," said Fitz, who works in Half Moon Bay. "Having access to the fisheries fund … allowed it to become a reality. Here I am, a new vessel owner."

The fund, which is administered by the Environmental Defense Fund, has distributed $1.7 million to 11 recipients to date. Read More »

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California Fisheries Fund Closes New Loan

The California Fisheries Fund closed a new loan last month that will help a family fishing business pass the torch to the next generation.

 Steve Fitz, captain of the F/V Mr. Morgan, will continue his family tradition operating the only commercial fishing operation in the United States that uses Scottish Seine gear, a selective and eco-friendly way to catch groundfish. Steve’s loan from the CFF helped him buy the Mr. Morgan from his uncle and start up Mr. Morgan Fisheries, a fishing business based in Half Moon Bay, specializing in sustainably harvested groundfish and Dungeness crab.

Mr. Morgan Fisheries is known for its sand dabs, Petrale sole and chilipepper rockfish—all species sustainably-managed under a catch share program. Like all other participants in this catch share program, the Mr. Morgan receives an individual fishing quota for several groundfish species that may be harvested throughout the year, with requirements for full accountability of every pound of fish harvested, and a human observer on every fishing trip. These new fishing practices guarantee there is no overfishing and Steve can use that message to market his fish with the 100% Federal At-Sea Monitoring No Overfishing Guaranteed label.

Steve Fitz grew up fishing with his father in New England before moving west and graduating from University of Denver with a degree in business. About eighteen years ago, he moved out to Half Moon Bay, California, to fish with his uncle, eventually becoming the captain of the F/V Mr. Morgan in 2000. Read More »

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Our National Marine Sanctuaries Are Ready For Anglers

Kids fishing on the seawall as a part of the "Hook Kids On Fishing Event" at the kickoff.

Kids fishing on the seawall as a part of the "Hook Kids On Fishing Event" at the kickoff.

Navigating the rules of recreational fishing can be difficult sometimes; and most anglers strive to be responsible stewards of the ocean’s resource.  That’s why many have avoided fishing our national marine sanctuaries.

As it turns out, fishing is allowed in the majority of our nation’s marine sanctuaries along with diving, surfing and other recreational activities.  In fact, anglers can fish in 98% of the designated sanctuaries along our coastlines.

Environmental Defense Fund believes that the best environmental policies find a way, when possible, to protect important resources while maintaining access for individuals or businesses.  Our National Marine Sanctuaries are great examples of that, and that’s why we are a proud sponsor of the National Marine Sanctuary Classic.

The Classic is a free summer-long fishing and photo contest taking place in four National Marine Sanctuaries: Channel Islands and Monterey Bay, CA on the west coast and the Florida Key, FL and Gray’s Reef, GA on the east coast. Read More »

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EDF Statement in Response to Today's "Keep Fishermen Fishing" Rally

Hundreds of fishermen rallied today in Washington, D.C. to voice frustration over fishing regulations.  We understand that many fishermen are frustrated, often for good reason.  Even though some fisheries have rebounded, in many places preventing overfishing has meant shrinking fishing seasons or even implementing closures, approaches that have serious economic impacts and limit access.

However, the focus should not be on gutting the law.  Instead we need to use the flexibility in the law and innovative management approaches to address the challenges we face.  For example, NOAA is using this flexibility to address the looming crisis with Gulf of Maine cod, using the law’s emergency provisions to allow higher levels of fishing while open scientific questions are investigated further.  Many sides have come together to propose a solution that we hope will protect both the fish and the fishermen.

We can't go back to overfishing, but we can use ideas available under existing law to rebuild fisheries and give fishermen the flexibility to improve both fish populations and profits.  While many speakers at today’s rally pushed various bills that would impose top-down mandates from Washington, we believe fishery management is best decided at the council level where fishermen can directly influence how the resource they depend on is managed.

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Catch Shares Improve Safety for a Dangerous Job

Fishermen hauling in a fishing trawl.

Fishermen hauling in a trawl.

Today, fishing once again topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In 2010, commercial fishing had a fatality rate per 100,000 full-time-equivalent employees 33 times the average rate for U.S. workers.  Although fortunately fishing’s fatality rate did decrease from 2009, it remains true that fishermen faced the highest chance of dying on the job compared with other occupations in the U.S.

Many things make fishing dangerous, but the way we regulate the industry can make things worse. For example, regulators often manage fishing by limiting when fishermen can be on the water, such as by setting short seasons, allocating a limited number of days at sea or shutting down a fishery when too many fish have been caught.

In order to catch enough fish to stay in business, fishermen must race to catch them before others do, which can lead to fishing in dangerous weather conditions, keeping exhausted crews on the water and overloading boats with excessive gear. All of these methods maximize catch in the short term but risk lives.

In contrast, catch shares give fishermen a secure amount of seafood they don't have to race their peers to catch. Catch shares provide flexibility to choose when to fish based on the weather and market conditions. Read More »

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