Selected tags: NOAA

Fishermen Come to D.C. to Educate Lawmakers About Catch Shares

United States CapitolApproximately 50 fishermen have arrived in Washington, D.C. today to tell members of Congress how important catch shares are to their future.   Funding for the national catch shares program is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.  The fishermen are in Washington to talk to their Congressional representatives and Senators about how conventional management is increasingly pushing fishermen off the water and how catch shares is a solution that keeps fishermen working – even while fish stocks recover.
 
Today more than 60 federal stocks are overfished or undergoing overfishing.  Thousands of fishing jobs have been lost as fisheries have declined under the current management system. This adverse impact from conventional management continues to increase as many valuable fisheries face huge closures or dwindling seasons, which will have devastating impacts on fishing jobs and coastal communities.

During their visits to Capitol Hill, fishermen will tell lawmakers how catch shares are locally designed to meet economic, social, and conservation goals.  Catch shares management is not a one-size-fits-all approach; rather programs are designed to meet the specific needs and goals of each fishery.

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New NOAA Report Shows Progress Being Made to Rebuild and Sustain Fisheries and Ocean Ecosystems – Catch Shares Help

Cover of NOAA report, Our Living Oceans - 6th edition.

Cover of NOAA report, Our Living Oceans - 6th edition.

In NOAA's newly released 6th edition of Our Living Oceans: Report on the Status of U.S. Marine Resources, catch shares (referred to as Limited Access Privilege Programs – LAPPs) are raised as one solution to the over-harvesting of fisheries. Citing the successes of established catch share programs, Our Living Oceans reports that the Alaska halibut fishery has seen healthy stocks with near record levels of total catch since the implementation of its catch share program.

Recognizing some challenges of implementing catch shares, the report rightly points out that policies set during the design of a catch share can address those challenges and concerns.

"Additional rules or special programs built into the LAPP either at implementation or after implementation can often mitigate any potential negative impacts."

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NOAA’s New National Catch Shares Program: An investment that makes (dollars and) cents

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy Director

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans National Policy Director.

Yesterday NOAA released its budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2011.  While the National Marine Fisheries Service budget request was decreased by 1.5%, it included a key feature: the creation of a new National Catch Shares Program, which would provide significant resources—over $50M—to those fisheries wanting to transition to catch shares. 

This federal investment comes at the right time because under conventional management fishermen struggle to make ends meet and fish stocks continue to decline.  Well-designed catch shares, on the other hand, can end overfishing while increasing fishermen’s profitability and wages and decreasing government costs.  NOAA’s announcement is a welcome shift in fisheries policy that will quickly accrue benefits to fishermen, fish populations, and the federal budget’s bottom line.
 
Fishermen are increasingly embracing catch shares because they boost profitability, wages, and safety. Catch shares enhance fishery economics with optimized catch limits (as overfished stocks recover and science improves), increased efficiency of fishing operations, and higher dock-side prices.  On average, fisheries in North America have realized an 80% increase in revenues five years after catch share implementation. In contrast, for many prized species the alternative to catch shares is closures, which will push fishermen off the water and have a devastating economic impact on coastal communities. 

As fisheries grow economically, catch shares can transition management costs to fishermen, reducing and stabilizing the overall federal investment needed to support fishing jobs.  For example, fishermen are required to recover 100% of program costs in the Alaska crab catch share.  That catch share has increased the overall value of the fishery because populations are recovering (so catch limits are increasing), and dock-side values have increased.  The economic increase has resulted in a surplus for management costs in 2009.
 
At the same time, as fisheries stabilize under catch shares, the federal government’s costs for disaster relief could substantially be reduced, which has averaged some $70 million annually over the past decade (not including salmon).
NOAA should be applauded for charting a new course and making an investment today in the solution that will help fishermen, fish populations, and the federal treasury recover. 
 
Now we need Congress to support NOAA’s budget request.

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EDF Applauds NOAA's New Catch Share Policy and Introduces the Catch Shares Action Toolkit

Amanda Leland, Oceans Program - National Policy DirectorA policy released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) charts an historic new course for the nation's fish stocks, giving hope for the recovery of struggling fishing communities and depleted fish resources. With the new policy, NOAA is seeking to correct decades of failed management that has resulted in economically-depressed, unsafe, and unsustainable fisheries around the country.

The policy promotes greater use of catch shares, and we at EDF applaud NOAA for promoting this innovative fisheries management approach proven to improve fishermen's lives and livelihoods and restore fish populations. NOAA's policy builds upon the significant work of fishermen, fishing communities, scientists, fishery managers, and conservationists to design and implement catch shares in fisheries around the country.

Catch shares work for fishermen and fish populations because they include science-based annual catch limits, accountability measures to ensure compliance with those limits, and effective enforcement. At the same time, catch shares give fishermen greater flexibility for how to run their businesses, which improves economic performance.

NOAA's new policy does not mandate catch shares for fisheries but rather makes important changes in strategy and operations, providing incentives and support for fishery managers who pursue catch shares. In particular, the draft policy:

  • Promotes the consideration and adoption, where appropriate, of catch share programs in federal fisheries.
  • Removes technical and administrative impediments to catch shares.
  • Provides technical and other support to those regional fishery management councils that choose to pursue catch shares.
  • Enhances outreach, education and assistance to stakeholders.
  • Promotes the development of technical guidance on specific program design elements.
  • Supports adaptive management through new research and performance monitoring of catch share programs over time.

The policy has been released in draft form but will take effect immediately. NOAA will take public comments for the next 120 days.

Today, as NOAA announces their new policy, EDF introduces the Catch Shares Action Toolkit to provide a resource for supporters of catch shares and encourage them to take action by telling NOAA and others that catch shares fishery management is the right policy to protect and restore the public's ocean fishery resources, and increase profitability, wages, and safety for fishermen.

The toolkit features videos of fishermen sharing their stories about the failures of the current management system and why they support catch shares programs. The toolkit also encourages catch share supporters to engage in the dialog about catch shares through commenting online to NOAA and news articles, spreading the word about the benefit of catch shares to their friends, and submitting their own stories.

Today over 50 federally-managed stocks are overfished or experiencing overfishing. Under current management, meeting a Congressionally-mandated deadline to end overfishing by 2011 will mean ever-shorter fishing seasons and long-term closures for many prized species which will have a devastating impact on coastal communities. Catch shares allow continued fishing even while fish stocks recover.

We encourage all catch share supporters and those who want to learn more about this solution for our struggling fisheries to visit our new Catch Shares Action Toolkit.

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NOAA Approves Gulf of Mexico Grouper / Tilefish IFQ

gag grouperThis morning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made one of the most significant decisions in the name of saving Gulf of Mexico fisheries, fishermen, and coastal fishing communities by approving a multi-species individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for Gulf of Mexico grouper and tilefish. The program will be implemented in January, creating one of the largest multi-species IFQ programs in federal waters of the continental U.S.

The grouper/tilefish IFQ will build on the successful record of the red snapper IFQ, which has already significantly contributed to the recovery of the stressed red snapper species. Together, the programs will offer even more conservation benefits than either program alone.

Fishermen are ecstatic and so are we. It has been a long process, but with support from fishermen (who voted in favor of the IFQ by more than 80%), managers (the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted in favor of the IFQ by more than 75%) and environmentalists, NOAA is implementing a strong conservation program that is welcomed by many.

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SeafoodSource.com Suggests Seafood Buyers Consider Catch Shares for Sustainability

Lisa Duchene, SeafoodSource's contributing editor, shared her commentary a few days ago with the publication's audience of commercial seafood buyers. "Does your sustainable seafood purchasing policy address 'catch shares?' Maybe it should," writes Duchene.

Of course, EDF agrees. Quoting the critical study by Christopher Costello and Steven Gaines published in the journal Science, Duchene states the facts pointing toward well-designed catch shares as the sustainable solution to rebuilding our nation's fish stocks.

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New National Fishing Policy Announced Today Focused on Catch Shares

Diane Regas is Associate Vice President for EDF's Oceans program. 

Diane Regas, Associate Vice President - EDF Oceans ProgramThe top government official for the nation’s fisheries today took a giant step in the right direction for the U.S. fishing industry and the oceans.  At a speech in Boston, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that she was creating a task force to develop a new policy on catch shares to ensure that they are fully considered when fishery management councils amend management plans. 

Recent scientific studies have shown that catch shares perform dramatically better than conventionally-managed fisheries.  The bottom line is that the new policy is likely to dramatically increase the number of fisheries managed by catch shares and that’s great news for the oceans and fishermen.

In her speech, Dr. Lubchenco said that NOAA would move “forward to implement more catch share programs” and that “all of the (fishery management) councils will see increases in their allocations in the 2010 (budget) request” for catch shares.  She also announced a new task force to develop a nation-wide catch share strategy.

Here’s the full text of Dr. Lubchenco’s speech this morning:

Comments by Dr. Jane Lubchenco at the Council Coordination Committee Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts – Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

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A Turning Point for New England Groundfish Fishery: Jane Lubchenco sends a clear message

Julie Wormser, New England Regional Director for the Environmental Defense Fund oceans program, writes about her attendance and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco's presence at the New England Fishery Management Council meeting on April 8th.

April 8, 2009, Mystic, CT —Sally McGee, Emilie Litsinger and I got to witness something pretty wonderful today.  Jane Lubchenco came to the New England Fishery Management Council meeting to announce the immediate release of $16 million to the groundfish fishery to help move the fishery to "sector" catch share management by providing funding for cooperative research to help fishermen get through a tough fishing year with very strict limits on fishing effort. 

This came on the heels of Monday's announcement of a final Interim Rule for groundfish that was a significant improvement both over the draft rule and a threatened legislative alternative introduced by some members of the New England congressional delegation. 

The meeting started at 8:30 am, with the room unusually full for that early hour.  The previous days had been crackling with speculation around the region about the reason for her visit. After brief introductions, Dr. Lubchenco thanked everyone for allowing her the time to speak to them. She described the main components of the new fishing rules and then said that she came to the council meeting with two clear messages. 

First, that NOAA would commit $16 million this year toward a new future for New England's fisheries (in this case, groundfish, but also more broadly).  Second, she put the room on notice—Council members, agency staff, industry and other stakeholders—that we all needed to step up and move away from crisis management toward a lasting solution—catch shares.

"We need a rapid transition to sectors and catch shares," she explained.  "Catch shares are a powerful tool to getting to sustainable fisheries and profitability.  I challenge you to deliver on this in Amendment 16, to include measures to end overfishing.  I will commit the resources to my staff to do their part to ensure Amendment 16 is passed in June.

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