A recent op-ed by Chris Conklin in The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, voiced frustration over the cascading closures now hitting the Southeast. Conklin comes from a fishing family and wonders if he’ll be able to stay in the fishing industry unless catch shares are instituted. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is considering a number of options – including catch shares – to reduce fishing closures and get fishermen back on the water.
Conklin points to the success of the red snapper catch share in the Gulf of Mexico. Not too long ago, Gulf red snapper fishermen were in a similar situation to fishermen in the Southeast. Now, they are now enjoying the third successful year of a catch share. They have a year-round season and dockside prices are higher. These fishermen will likely receive more fish this year because fish population rebuilding is going so well.
Even as Gulf commercial fishermen deal with the worsening oil spill, the flexibility they have to fish throughout the year lets them plan their businesses in the face of natural or man-made problems better than those not under a catch share.
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Southeast fishermen recently finished the first month of closures on many popular fish. Many fisheries won’t open again for several months and reality is sinking in across the region.
The New York Times is even taking notice. When a region’s fishery woes make ink in one of the most prominent papers in the nation, you know it’s a big deal.
It’s apparent that closures aren’t working for fishing businesses, restaurants or local economies. Fishermen can’t make a living when they can’t fish. Businesses that rely on local fish must turn to far off places to get it. What’s not as apparent is that closures aren’t even very good for the region’s ecosystem, because they force fishermen to fish harder on other species that aren’t closed. This can cause market gluts and an early end to the fishing season for many species, which just multiplies current problems.
However, in all the sobering news coverage that’s come out lately, outlets are overlooking a solution that’s good for fish and fishing businesses.
Southeast fishermen need catch shares, which allow fishermen the flexibility to fish when the weather and prices are good and improve collection of fishery data, all while rebuilding fish populations.
The good news is that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is already exploring this solution. In fact, the Council has scheduled a catch shares workshop for March 1 preceding the Council’s next regular meeting. If you’re interested in learning more about the best solution for Southeast fisheries, I encourage you to attend. The meeting is open to the public.
Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged Catch Shares, closures, New York Times
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is proposing to implement a new rule this year that can help improve our understanding of sea turtles and how the fishing industry interacts with them. This is good news because the current data on “sea turtle interactions” isn’t very plentiful in most fisheries. The rule would be important because managers need to understand the activities that affect sea turtles so they can develop effective conservation programs that recover threatened and endangered populations, such as Loggerhead sea turtles.
The rule would work by identifying fisheries in state and federal waters that will be required, upon NMFS’ request, to take scientific observers on fishing trips to gather information about the number of sea turtles encountered and the types of interactions. Several fisheries would be put on a list, called an Annual Determination, and would be subject to carrying observers for 5 years. NMFS is proposing to include fisheries such as trawl fisheries and gillnet fisheries in this Annual Determination.
In addition to the use of observers, NMFS should consider using new technologies (such as at-sea video monitoring) that can be cost effective and may allow an increase in the level of monitoring, especially in fisheries where accommodating an observer is difficult.
Good data will help NMFS evaluate existing sea turtle protections and develop better management measures. Regulations based on good data, sound science, and industry, accountability can improve management of sea turtles and help rebuild endangered populations.
Big news comes from the U.S. Southeast, where the regional fishery management council voted last Thursday to protect what is likely the planet's largest deepwater coral ecosystem, covering nearly 25,000 square miles, stretching from North Carolina to Florida.
This final action culminates ten years of active collaboration between scientists (including EDF Oceans Chief Scientist, Doug Rader), managers, environmentalists and fishermen to protect this recently discovered world treasure. While rulemaking in the U.S. Department of Commerce will extend into next year, the vote last week was a major conservation milestone. In combination with the establishment of national marine monuments in the distant Pacific in January, this action truly establishes 2009 as the year of the oceans!
The Charlotte Observer
Photo courtesy of Steven Ross
Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged Corals, Fishing, Golden Crab, Reefs