Selected tags: Oceans

Stop and Watch the Dolphins

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.

 

The Blue from Mark Peters on Vimeo.

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World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans Announced at Rio +20 Earth Summit

Reef and fish, Cuba

Coral Reef, Gardens of the Queen, Cuba

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 »

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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 Share Conversations: Monitoring Systems Case Studies

Teal basket full of red snapper

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

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. 

Read the complete fact sheets for more details on the British Columbia Groundfish and Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish monitoring systems.

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EDF Partners with National Geographic on "I Am The Ocean" Campaign

Help Protect the Ocean. Join I Am The Ocean today.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.

Through this action-oriented marine conservation initiative, you can participate by making the right seafood choices, volunteering for costal clean-up, and learning about 10 other things you can do to save the ocean. In addition, you can even purchase a bottle of "I Am the Ocean" wine and $4 will be donated to promote marine protected areas and reduce overfishing. Join "I Am The Ocean" today.

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The Deadliest Catch? Less Dangerous Under Catch Shares

Under conventional fishery management, fishermen often have no choice but to go out in rough seas. Under catch share management, fishermen have the flexibility to wait and fish in good weather and safer waters.

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that in 2009 commercial fishing once again had the highest fatality rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. The rate was approximately 60 times the average fatality rate for all workers, and was higher than for loggers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, as well as aircraft pilots and flight engineers.

Why is it so dangerous? To a certain degree, fishing is inherently dangerous – going out on a boat in the middle of the ocean, hauling heavy swinging pots or nets onto a deck covered in gear while waves crash around you carries a certain amount of risk. But the job can be made more dangerous due to restrictive fishery management policies that try to limit fishermen’s catch by severely limiting fishing seasons and/or days-at-sea. When faced with such restrictions, fishermen attempt to maximize their catch in these short windows of time by going out regardless of weather, working longer shifts and overloading their boats with equipment.

Keith “Buddy” Guindon from Galveston, Texas had one of the scariest moments of his career as a lifelong commercial fisherman when the Gulf’s commercial red snapper fishery used to be limited to short seasons. He and his crew fished so long and hard that one night the lookout on duty fell asleep, leaving the boat to drive itself for 2 to 3 hours through the Gulf’s now infamous oil field. Surprisingly, the boat didn’t wreck — avoiding potentially fatal consequences.

One way safety can be improved is with catch share management. Under catch shares, fishermen are required to stay within a specified cap for the season and in return have flexibility about over when to fish. The result is safer jobs. Five years after catch shares were implemented, ten U.S. and British Columbian commercial fisheries saw an average 2.5 fold increase in safety, as measured by lost vessels, search and rescue missions, injuries, deaths and safety violations.

The number of search and rescue missions for Alaska’s halibut and sablefish fishermen declined after catch shares were implemented from 26 and 33 in 1993 and 1994 respectively (pre-catch shares) to just 5 cases in 2007 and 3 in 2008 (under catch shares).   More than 85 percent Alaska halibut fishermen surveyed found fishing to be safer under catch shares.

Many people think of Alaska crab as “The Deadliest Catch” after watching the popular Discovery Channel series filmed in the Bering Sea. The Alaskan crab fisheries were quite deadly: one vessel and five crewmen were lost on average each year in the 1990s. 
The fishery became safer due to both the implementation of a dockside safety monitoring program, and by switching to catch share management. Ending the “race for fish” reduced the incentive for stacking too much gear on board (destabilizing vessels) and reduced pressure to fish in poor weather conditions. It also improved the economic stability of the industry, eliminating less seaworthy vessels and leading to the development of more professional crews, all of which contributed to improved safety.

An article in Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council, the Coast Guard Journal of Safety at Sea states, “an increased number of fishing days, increased flexibility for masters to choose when to fish, and reduced emphasis on catching power and large pot loads potentially have safety benefits and contribute to eliminating vessel losses.”  Since coming under catch share management five years ago, there has been only one crabber in Alaska who has lost his life while fishing.

The experience in Alaska illustrates how catch share programs can play an important role in improving safety. Catch shares reduce the pressure to fish in bad weather and dangerous conditions, as well as allow fishermen to work with more rest in between trips. Because catch share programs are more profitable, fishermen can also better afford to maintain their vessels.

Buddy Guindon is glad that the Gulf’s commercial red snapper fishery is now a catch share.

“It is important to note that some fisheries are far more dangerous than others,” said Dave Preble, a retired charter boat and commercial fisherman from Rhode Island, who is currently on the New England Fishery Management Council. “But all fisheries are safer under quota/hard TAC (catch share) management."

Linked Sources

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2009. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf

National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2009 – Preliminary Results. Press Release. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. August 19, 2010. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf

National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2009 – Preliminary Results. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Hours-based fatal injury rates by industry, occupation, and selected demographic characteristics. August 19, 2010. http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfoi_rates_2009hb.pdf

“Assessing the Potential for LAPPs in US Fisheries,” by Redstone Strategy Group, LLC and Environmental Defense, March 2007. http://www.redstonestrategy.com/reports.php?action=detail&publicationID=12

NOAA Fisheries Service. Catch Share Spotlight No. 1. Alaska IFQ Halibut and Sablefish Program, November 2009. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/domes_fish/catchshare/docs/ak_halibut_sablefish.pdf

“Effects of IFQ Management on Fishing Safety: Survey Responses of Alaska Halibut Fishermen,” University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research, May 1999. http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Projects/ifqsurv/safety.pdf

“Report to the Governor: Three Years of Safety, Stability and Improved Resource Management,” The Coalition for Safe and Sustainable Crab Fisheries, Alaska, Washington and Oregon, 2008. http://www.wafro.com/imageuploads/file175.pdf
 
Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council, the Coast Guard Journal of Safety at Sea, Spring 2009.

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