Selected tags: ocean conservation

Cooperation beats competition

By Sarah Poon

Whether in school, at work, or at play, we’ve all experienced the value of working collectively to achieve a common goal.  Many fisheries around the world are successfully managed by providing a structure for collaboration between fishermen via Cooperative catch shares.

In a Cooperative catch share, one or more groups of fishing participants, or “Cooperatives”, are allocated a secure portion of the catch or a dedicated fishing area.  In exchange, they are responsible for accepting certain management responsibilities.  Many fishing communities around the world have traditionally managed their coastal resources cooperatively, leveraging their local knowledge and relationships to achieve common goals.  Recognizing the success of this approach, many fisheries are building upon this traditional practice, while also adapting to the realities of today’s increasingly global fishery markets.

There are hundreds of Cooperatives around the world.  They have formed in different ways and have various functions and capacities.  But when it comes to their ability to manage fisheries, they share a common (perhaps obvious) theme: Cooperatives work best when people cooperate.  Cooperatives have demonstrated that fishermen working together (often hand-in-hand with fishery managers) can improve fishery science, tailor management to local conditions, increase profits and respond to complex management challenges such as discarding and habitat impacts.

Perhaps the most famous example of a well-functioning Cooperative is the United States Bering Sea and Aleutian Island (BSAI) Crab Rationalization Program which is featured on the popular television program, The Deadliest Catch.  Prior to Cooperative implementation, fishermen competed with one another in an intense and dangerous race to fish, resulting in overcapitalization, overfishing and unsafe work conditions.  Now, under the BSAI Crab Rationalization Program, fishermen are assigned a secure share of the annual catch, and they collaborate rather than compete by sharing information and working together to increase the productivity of their businesses. Because the season is longer and there is no race to fish, fishermen can go out when the weather is fair, avoiding deadly situations.

In the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, artisanal fishermen have worked together for centuries in traditional fishing guilds or “cofradías” to manage the goose barnacle fishery.  However, inadequate fishery science and a rise in demand for this traditional culinary delicacy led to a near collapse of the fishery.  Recognizing the management potential of the cofradías, the Galician fisheries ministry granted exclusive harvesting privileges—also known as Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (TURFs)—to the traditional fishing guilds.  In turn, the cofradías develop annual fishery management plans, participate in monitoring, and ensure sustainable harvest by their members. By working together in their cofradías and alongside fishery managers, fishermen have helped drive the recovery of the goose barnacle population and stabilized profits.

These are just two examples of many fisheries around the world in which a secure stake in the fishery has empowered groups of fishermen to participate in responsible management.  Additional stories of fisheries transformed through a Cooperative catch share approach can be found below and as part of our comprehensive fisheries toolkit.  Two new guides provide step-by-step guidance to designing Cooperative catch shares, including one for quota-based programs and one for Territorial Use Rights for Fishing.

Japanese Common Fishing Rights System

This program is a model for managing mobile nearshore species through a coordinated system of co-management between federal and regional governments and local fishermen organizations.

Mexican Vigía Chico Cooperative Spiny Lobster Territorial Use Rights for Fishing Program

The most productive fishing Cooperative in the Mexican-Caribbean since 1982, this area-based fishery management program has steadied the Punta Allen lobster catch while most other areas declined.

United States Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Non-Pollock (Amendment 80) Cooperative Program

A great example of a cooperative catch share, this program ended the race to fish, drastically reduced bycatch rates, and allows slower and more targeting harvesting by fishermen.

United States Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Cooperative Program

Launched as a pilot in 2007, the successful rockfish management program was extended for ten years in 2011 years with some key design changes to improve upon the original program design.

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Seafood Selector helps you have your hake (and eat it too)

Environmental Defense Fund recently released the latest version of its popular Seafood Selector, a tool to help make consumers aware of critical ocean conservation issues through the fish that they and their families eat. Today I want to take a moment to remember what life was like in 2001, when our first version came out as a small black-and-white paper cutout in the organization's quarterly member newsletter. (I know it’s hard to believe, but most people still received their environmental news by snail mail back in those days).

Back then, most people still didn’t have cell phones, and those that did just kept them in their gloveboxes for emergencies. I was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, studying shark ecology and physiology. Even as a young marine biologist, I was largely unaware of the impacts of our personal choices on the health of the oceans.

Raising consumer awareness of ocean conservation issues was no easy task 12 years ago – and is still a challenge today – given the complexity of how most fish makes it to our plates. For example, here are some interesting facts you might not know about the U.S. seafood market:

  • More than 90% of U.S. seafood is now imported.
  • Almost two-thirds of our imported fish comes from Asia.
  • Our seafood trade deficit is approximately $11 billion. That’s billion with a ‘B’.
  • Almost 60% of U.S. seafood consumption is from 3 items (shrimp, canned tuna, salmon). If you add ‘whitefish’, like pollock, cod and tilapia, the per capita total goes up to 80%.
  • More than 50% of U.S. seafood is now farm-raised.
  • Roughly 33% of U.S. seafood is mislabeled.
  • Americans eat 10% less seafood than they did in 2004 (15 lbs/person in 2011 versus 16.6 lbs/person in 2004).

Consumers care about sustainability now more than ever. That means they want to know where their food comes from, and more importantly, what impact its production had on the environment. This is especially true in restaurants, where a recent survey of chefs by the National Restaurant Association found that local and sustainable seafood accounted for three of the Top 10 culinary trends for 2013.

EDF's latest version of the Seafood Selector makes it easier than ever for seafood lovers to make fish choices that are healthy for them AND the oceans, with profiles of more than 200 types of commonly eaten seafood. The new Seafood Selector is also optimized for just about every type of mobile device out there. (I, for one, can’t wait to see what the 2023 Seafood Selector looks like!) So whether you want to know the difference between farmed and wild salmon, the mercury content of different types of tuna, or learn more about EDF’s fisheries work around the country – Seafood Selector is the tool for you.

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Social Entrepreneurs Saving the Ocean

 

Plastic trash on the beach

Photo credit: jschneid via photopin cc

*Re-Posted from Huffington Post Blog  

Social change requires the harnessing of social forces, and the more powerful the force, the more fundamental the change.  Moral outrage, a yearning for justice, and the desire for connection are all forces that have propelled social change movements throughout history.  They will continue to fuel social change now and in the future. 

But there is a very powerful force shaping the world we live in today that is not yet aligned fully with the environmental values that many of us hold, and that is the search for profit and well being through the investment of capital and labor — the profit motive.  Indeed, the profit motive has prevailed time and again over countervailing forces like ethical commitments to environmental stewardship, the desire for long-term economic well being, and even over the force of government regulation.

In a previous blogpost, I summarized a recent publication that lays out a strategy for aligning the profit motive with the conservation of coastal ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, storm surge protection, and recreational value — services that are usually unpriced by conventional markets, and so become subject to degradation.  The goal is to reverse alarming trends in mangrove deforestation, salt marsh dredging, and nearshore pollution by shaping markets that value these services, allowing people to do well by doing good. Read More »

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Ocean Conservation Should not be a Partisan Issue

Stetson Bank Coral and Sponges

Stetson Bank Coral and Sponges. Photo credit: Frank and Joyce Burek

No matter what happens at the polls today, the ocean and the fish that live in it will still require our attention and conservation efforts. With all the politics and rhetoric circulating throughout the media, the fact that oceans and other vital ecosystems provide invaluable resources and benefits to the billions of people on this planet tends to go unnoticed. Even worse, there is a tendency to paint the environment as a partisan issue, when regardless of your political beliefs—ensuring we have a healthy natural world is essential to your survival and happiness for the future.

The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the world’s water. An estimated 20,000 species of marine fish swim beneath the largely unexplored waters, along with complex plant and animal life including coral reefs, sea grasses, whales and sharks. Billions of people globally depend on fish as their primary source of protein, and the economic value of fishing for their livelihood. Many of these people live in poor, undeveloped countries and will rely more heavily on the ocean as populations increase and global warming impacts their ability to cultivate food on land. The reality of our global dependence on the ecosystem services that the ocean provides becomes more evident with studies such one which recently came out in Science, citing that 80% of the world’s un-assessed fisheries are in worse shape than previously thought. But there is hope if we act now to align the right incentives and increase the economic value of fisheries, while putting fishermen at the forefront of conservation.  Ensuring that the world’s fish stocks are replenished is a human imperative, not a political talking point. Read More »

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Neuroconservation: Your Brain on Ocean

Roaring Ocean, Oregon Coast. Photo by Charles Seaborn.

The fate of the oceans is now in human hands, yet most of us ocean conservationists don’t know much about why people do things that harm the ocean, or how to motivate behavior that is good for the ocean.  As I note in my book, Heal the Ocean, the re-connection of people to the sea will be key to pervasive conservation and intelligent resource use.  But how can we do that?

I recently had the opportunity to learn about how humans relate to the ocean by moderating the Blue Mind: Your Brain on Ocean panel of scientists, futurists and communicators as part of the inaugural Bay Area Science Festival. We also explored how conservationists might be able to apply the insights of neuroscience, behavioral science, and psychology to improve conservation strategies and outcomes.

BLUEMiND Graphic from Inaugural Summit, June, 2011.

The panel line-up included marine biologist and research associate at the California  Academy of Sciences, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, who also has an economics degree from Duke University, and hybrid and communications expert Sarah Kornfeld. “J.”, as Dr. Nichols likes to be called, and Sarah hosted a groundbreaking conference in June at the Academy of Sciences called BLUEMiND to explore the response of the human brain to the ocean. Read More »

Posted in Catch Share Conversations, EDF Oceans General, Fishermen Voices, Marine Protection, Ocean Energy, Pacific, Seafood, South Atlantic| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Protecting Marine Life in Cuba

Cuba coastline

Cuba coastline in the Guanahacabibes National Park. This rocky coastline is prime habitat for 3 foot long Cuban iguanas that are native to the area.

Guanahacabibes National Park, is located in the far southwest corner of Cuba, just across the Yucatan Strait from Cancun and smack dab in hurricane alley. Last week Pam Baker (from our Texas office) and I paid a visit to Cuban colleagues there to learn more about new efforts to protect fish populations, coral reefs, sea turtles, and coastal ecosystems.  

Most of the park’s waters are off-limits to the harvesting of reef fish, spiny lobster and other species.  La Bajada, a small village perched on the rocky coastline of the park, is home to a few dozen subsistence fishermen who are still allowed to catch fish in a designated area. 

The park’s pristine beaches provide important nesting grounds for endangered turtle species, including loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles.  Park scientists and volunteer students provide round-the-clock monitoring during nesting season and have virtually eliminated poaching of turtles in the park. 

Just recently, Cuban scientists have initiated a project to assess and control growing populations of the deadly Pacific lionfish, a non-native species that threatens native fish and fishermen alike. We are working with them to develop strategies to combat this invasive and dangerous species.  We are also teaming up to assess the impacts of sea level rise along the southern coast of Cuba and to examine adaptation and mitigation opportunities.  By some estimates, all of the park’s mangrove forests could be submerged in ocean waters by 2050.  For more on these and other collaborative projects in Cuba go to www.edf.org/cuba.

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