In the United States today, 65% of all fish caught in federal U.S. waters comes from catch share programs, which helped drive a 17 year high in fish landings last year. We are continuing to see evidence that catch shares can help to rebuild fish populations while providing fishermen with more stable and profitable jobs as the stock recovers. Last year was exciting and productive for our Oceans team. We want to look back at the year with you, and look forward to how we will continue working with fishermen and fishery managers to restore fish populations at home and abroad. Our goals for 2013 are to:
Improve the health and profitability of U.S. commercial fisheries and ocean ecosystems
Advance Pilot Projects that improve recreational fisheries by partnering with recreational fishermen
Promote catch shares internationally
Work with fishery stakeholders and scientists to improve science, data collection and monitoring in both catch share and non-catch share fisheries for improved management.
In 2011, just three catch share programs (the Pacific Groundfish IFQ, New England sector program, and the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper IFQ programs) saved nearly 16 million pounds of fish from being wasted last year as discards—enough to feed about one million Americans their seafood for a year.
In the Pacific Region, January 2012 marked the first-year anniversary of a catch share management program for more than 60 species of commercially important groundfish. EDF played a key role in the program’s development, and we are working hard to ensure its durability. In the first year, West Coast fishermen discarded 80% fewer fish than in the previous year, and their revenues reached $54 million—42% higher than the previous five-year average (2011 NOAA Report). Read More »
We can often get wrapped up in policy discussions and advocacy, and forget to take a moment to appreciate why we care about the ocean. Last week a video started popping up on the internet of some dolphins off the coast of Santa Cruz, CA.
The video was meant to be of a tuna fishing trip, but caught some magical footage of a pod of dolphins swimming together. The video is so vivid; it almost looks like computer generated animation. So take a moment, click play (wait until about the one minute mark), and appreciate why working to preserve our oceans’ ecosystems is important.
There are many challenges facing our planet’s oceans which have not been addressed to date by any single group of citizens, lawmakers, fishermen or world leaders. Fortunately, hope can be seen in the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), a growing alliance of “governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector interests that will mobilize knowledge and financial resources to address threats to ocean health, resilience and productivity.” This partnership, announced in February, has garnered the support of over 80 signatories so far and represents a bold and courageous front to save the oceans and preserve their social, biological and economic benefits for generations to come.
A declaration was released today by the GPO stating its objectives for achieving its international commitments for healthy and productive oceans. Read More »
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.
Throughout this week in our Catch Share Conversations series, we have explored the importance of monitoring, and discussed best practices of monitoring systems. Today, we present two case studies—British Columbia Groundfish and Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish– that highlight the diversity of fisheries and accompanying monitoring systems. These distinctly different examples show how monitoring systems reflect the unique goals and characteristics of a fishery and how two different fisheries design monitoring programs to meet their needs.
The British Columbia Groundfish fishery is a multispecies fishery with a fleet that employs a wide range of gear types. It employs one of the most sophisticated monitoring systems in the world, including hail in/hail out, 100 percent dockside coverage, 100 percent at-sea monitoring, including observers for trawl vessels, and electronic video monitoring for hook & line and trap vessels.
The Gulf of Mexico Reef fish fishery is a multispecies fishery. The fishery uses logbooks, partial at-sea monitoring, dockside coverage, electronic reporting, VMS and hail in/hail out monitoring techniques to reach program goals.
Last week, National Geographic launched the campaign "I Am The Ocean", also referred to as Mission Blue. This effort in partnership with several environmental organizations, including EDF, sends out a global call to action to raise public awareness, start conversations, and inspire people to help protect the ocean.
One billion people worldwide depend on fish and shellfish for their protein. The ocean is key to sustaining life on the planet — from the air we breathe to the water we drink, so it is critical for us to protect it.