Selected tags: Grouper

H-E-B Grocery Making Sure Texans Enjoy Sustainable Seafood

By Tim Fitzgerald and Heather Paffe

storefront

Source: HEB.com

Today EDF proudly announced its new sustainable seafood partnership with Texas retail giant H-E-B, a cornerstone of communities across Texas for more than 100 years. One of the nation's largest independently owned food retailers with annual sales exceeding $20 billion, they operate more than 350 H-E-B and Central Market stores across the state.

The new partnership builds on H-E-B’s longstanding dedication to healthy oceans, healthy seafood and healthy Gulf fishing communities, and positions EDF as its primary sustainability advisor for all fresh, frozen and prepared fish offerings (work will begin on shelf stable seafood later this year). H-E-B’s updated sourcing policy outlines nine ways that they are committed to providing the freshest, safest, and most sustainable seafood. Read More »

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'Fish on Fridays': Gulf of Mexico Grouper

Grilled Grouper

Grilled Grouper over Arugula & orange salad. Photo credit: Food Network/Emeril Lagasse

Grouper are delicious fish that are harvested in both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico, these fish are managed under a catch share program, where species like red and black grouper have healthy populations. John Schmidt, a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico who fishes for grouper, tells us about his experiences in the fishery and how it has changed for the better under a catch share. Finally, we are sharing a delicious and healthy recipe for grilled grouper over an arugula and orange salad.

Gulf of Mexico Grouper/Tilefish IFQ Program

The Grouper-Tilefish IFQ program was implemented in January of 2010. Prior to this program, commercial grouper and tilefish were managed with limited access fishing permits, trip limits, size limits, closed seasons and catch limits. These management measures resulted in overcapitalization of the fishery and subsequent early closures. Fishermen were going bankrupt and fish stocks were depleted. Since the fishermen have been operating under a catch share in this fishery, the stocks are rebuilding, discards of dead fish are down, the race to fish has been eliminated, and fishermen are able to grow their businesses in an industry that was previously struggling. Read More »

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Environmental Defense Fund Partners with Gulf Fishermen to Launch Gulf Wild™ Seafood Assurance Program

Gulf Wild

myGulfWild.com

In a bold effort to restore consumer confidence in Gulf of Mexico seafood, EDF is working with a group of forward-looking Gulf fishermen and other conservation and fishery improvement organizations to launch a new seafood assurance campaign called Gulf Wild™. The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, a trade organization of fishermen in the individual fishing quota (IFQ) catch share program for Gulf red snapper and grouper, developed Gulf Wild™ in collaboration with EDF to help consumers, chefs, and retailers identify responsibly managed, safety-inspected, authentic Gulf seafood that can be tracked directly to its source.

Shareholders’ Alliance president and Gulf fisherman David Krebs announced Gulf Wild™ earlier this week at the opening of the 2011 International Boston Seafood Show. Krebs said one of the current challenges that Shareholders’ Alliance fishermen face today is “educating conscientious consumers and chefs about the conservation measures we are undertaking, and showing them how these measures are helping species like Gulf grouper and Gulf red snapper.” 

Red snapper and grouper on ice, each with the small blue and white Gulf Wild tag attached to the gill.

Gulf Wild™ fish labeled with a sequentially numbered gill tag, which is trackable on mygulfwild.com.

Gulf Wild™ requires participating fishermen to verify that the fish were caught in a sustainable manner under a unique set of “Conservation Covenants”, which guarantee conscientious harvesting. Additionally, Gulf Wild™ fishermen have already been operating under a red snapper IFQ program since 2007 to better manage the fishery.

With that IFQ in place, Krebs said, “Gulf red snapper is moving from a ‘red-listed’ fishery to a more sustainable one.”  Since the inception of the red snapper IFQ, overfishing has ended, wasteful discards have dropped by 80%, and fishermen have seen a 40 percent increase in the total allowable catch.

Key to the Gulf Wild™ program is a tracking system that allows the buyer to “find my fish.” Each Gulf Wild™ fish is marked with a sequentially numbered gill tag just minutes after it is brought on board, whose unique credentials are uploaded to the web when the catch reaches shore. That information is made public via myGulfWild.com, where you can enter the unique tag number and confirm the fish species, catch location, landing port, and even information about the vessel and its captain.

Finally, in direct response to consumer concerns stemming from the BP oil disaster, Gulf Wild™ incorporates a stringent safety-testing protocol that goes above and beyond federal requirements. An independent international testing laboratory will routinely sample Gulf Wild™ fish to test for oil-based contaminants such as PAHs, dispersants, and heavy metals.

To start, Gulf Wild™ tags are now on Gulf red snapper and grouper, with more than a dozen species from the IFQ catch share program to follow. We will continue to expand and improve upon Gulf Wild™ in the months to come, in partnership with an advisory panel of respected experts from the culinary, food safety, public health, conservation, and seafood marketing communities.

I am excited about the Gulf Wild™ project for a number of reasons. First, it highlights the efforts of a rebounding fishery that has transitioned to more sensible management and made notable environmental and economic gains as a result. Second, it shows that there are success stories to be told in the wake of last summer’s BP oil disaster. Last, but not least, Gulf Wild™ can serve as a model for other fisheries around the country as a way of building consumer confidence while creating new market value at the same time.

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Vote on Massive Southeast Fishing Closures Passes

Today in Orlando, Florida, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) approved amendment 17A (17A) to the snapper grouper fishery management plan. Now it will go to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke for approval. 17A closes the red snapper fishing season throughout the Southeast. It also closes a 5,000 square mile area for additional kinds of snapper and grouper fishing from Georgia to South Florida. A short-term ban was put in place in January to prevent red snapper fishing, until 17A could be finalized.

While today’s passage of 17A fulfills the Council’s legal requirements to end overfishing of red snapper, it does not provide an effective long-term strategy for a healthy fishery. In reality, it reinforces many other problems:

  • Commercial and charter fishermen going out of business;
  • Difficulty in finding local fish in restaurants and stores; and
  • Recreational fishermen – including tourists – not being able to fish as much, which hurts countless bait and tackle shops, boat dealers and mechanics, and tourist hotels and restaurants.

Catch shares allow fishing as fish populations rebuild
EDF believes that catch share management is the best option for the commercial and for-hire (charter and party boats) sectors of the snapper and grouper fishery. Catch shares could potentially replace 17A’s closures with fishing seasons and reduce closed areas while fish populations rebuild. Private anglers deserve an opportunity to catch red snapper too, and fishermen and the Council have an opportunity to improve the management by exploring new tools like a tagging program.

Growing numbers of Southeast fishermen agree that catch shares are the best way forward.

Catch shares set a scientifically-based limit on the total amount of fish that can be caught and then divide that amount among individual fishermen or groups of fishermen.  Studies have shown that catch shares bring fish populations back and benefit fishermen. With catch shares, fishermen have much more flexibility on when to fish, are held individually accountable for what they catch, are no longer forced to waste tons of fish by throwing them overboard, and fishing can be more profitable.

A looming disaster: Effort shift
When 17A is implemented, fishermen will focus on other kinds of fish, instead of red snapper. This can damage other fish populations or underwater habitat. Also, the uncontrolled BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may push Gulf fishermen into Southeast waters. Both situations will increase the amount of fishing pressure on an already distressed fishery. Catch shares reduce the need for season and area closures and the chance of damaging effort shift in fisheries.

Catch share success is proven
Successful catch share management is in place in the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper, grouper and tilefish fisheries and hundreds of other fisheries worldwide. Just three years after the red snapper catch share in the Gulf of Mexico went into place, the amount of wasted fish was reduced significantly, fishermen made higher profits, and fish populations were rebounding. With the BP Oil Disaster, the flexibility of catch shares allows fishermen in areas closed to fishing to sell or lease their shares of fish to fishermen in open areas.

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New Gulf Grouper Catch Share Already Proving Good for Fish & Businesses

grouperOn Jan. 1, 18 Gulf of Mexico commercially-caught grouper and tilefish species were added to the region’s individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, a type of catch share. This newly expanded program is a big conservation victory. Now, 19 valuable Gulf fisheries are being managed under a tool proven to rebuild struggling fish stocks.

This move is good for small and large fishing businesses. A year-round fishing season is just one of many benefits.  See National Fisherman's article on how the new IFQ program is already making a difference.

Unfortunately, grouper fishermen in the Southeast aren’t faring as well under traditional management. They’re in the middle of a four month fishing closure. This isn’t just hard on fishermen, it’s hard on local restaurants and other businesses too. Southeast fishery managers should consider catch shares to eliminate these devastating season closures and bring fish populations back to health quickly.

Finally, we want to congratulate the fishermen, Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and others who worked so hard to add grouper and tilefish to the Gulf’s IFQ. We are excited to see the progress that these fisheries will make in the coming year.

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New NOAA policy an economic and conservation boost for Gulf fisheries

Red snapper on scaleThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new catch share policy, which encourages the use of catch shares to manage fisheries, is exciting news for the Gulf of Mexico’s declining fisheries and struggling fishermen.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council deserves a pat on the back for already considering catch shares for some of its fisheries, and NOAA’s new policy can help jumpstart even more progress to end overfishing in all Gulf fisheries. Ending overfishing is good for Gulf economies and will give fishermen more time on the water.

The red snapper individual fishing quota (IFQ), one type of catch share, is wrapping up its third year, and we continue to see the tangible benefits of catch shares: commercial overfishing is ending, fishing businesses are more stable, and bycatch (accidentally-caught fish that must be thrown back in the water and often die) has been significantly reduced.

Other Gulf fisheries and sectors can benefit from catch shares too: Read More »

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