Selected tag(s): west coast

Trading the Certainty of Failure for the Challenges of Change

Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, is one of the West Coast's most storied fishing ports. When Lewis & Clark set up their winter camp in 1805, the people of this storm-tossed corner of Oregon had been sustaining themselves with seafood for hundreds of generations. In recent years, however, earning a living from the sea has been tough for Astoria-based fishermen.

In an editorial about the new groundfish catch share program that goes into effect on January 11th, The Daily Astorian weighs the challenges inherent in this change against the certain failure of the status quo – and comes down squarely for change. The conclusions they have reached are shared by many fishery stakeholders and fishery managers, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund.

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NPR Covers Forthcoming West Coast Catch Share

National Public Radio's Morning Edition ran a story this morning about the West Coast groundfish catch share that will start January 1, 2011.   The story featured fishermen who are preparing for the new program and believe that it will be a big improvement over the old management system.  To help fishermen make the transition to catch shares, the West Coast Trawlers' Network, a group of industry leaders from the west coast groundfish trawl fleet, created a new web site filled with information and resources.

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San Francisco's KQED Radio Takes a Look at the West Coast Groundfish Catch Share

As part of their weekly Quest series on the science and environment of Northern California, San Francisco’s KQED public radio took a look at the groundfish catch share management program that will be rolled out on January 1st in the state’s largest commercial fishery.

KQED reporter Lauren Sommer interviewed both commercial fishermen and federal regulatory officials – two groups who are often at odds when it comes to fisheries management. Her reporting revealed significant consensus on likely effects of the new system, which allocates individual fishing quotas – or IFQs – to fishermen who harvest groundfish – any of  90 plus species of rockfish (like chilipepper or yellowtail), flatfish (like dover and petrale sole) and roundfish (like sablefish and lingcod) on the West Coast.

That growing consensus suggests that IFQs on the West Coast will:

  • Inspire and increase stewardship of fish stocks, by doing away with a fishery management system that promotes the wasteful shoveling of “bycatch” – fish that current regulations require crews to shovel overboard, usually dead, after it is brought aboard in trawl nets.
  • Create full accountability for all fish caught – tallied by federal fisheries observers who will be onboard trawl vessels while they’re at sea.
  • Dramatically increase quality of the scientific data provided by fishermen to federal scientists whose job it is to assess fish populations and help set harvest guidelines.
  • Provide fishermen with a valuable and marketable asset, in the form of quota shares – a percentage of each year’s total allowable catch.
  • Help to replace competition and distrust among industry participants – fishermen, seafood buyers and regulators – with cooperation and communication, hallmarks of catch share fisheries the world over.

Listen to KQED’s story on the West Coast catch share.

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West Coast Trawl Fishermen Discuss Information, Ideas and Resources for Transitioning to Catch Shares

The West Coast Trawlers' Network, a group of industry leaders from the west coast groundfish trawl fleet, recently created a website full of information and resources focused on helping members of the fleet transition to catch shares. Consisting of the Fishermen's Marketing Association, Midwater Trawlers Cooperative,  Oregon Trawl Commission, Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative, and United Catcher Boats; the network's site includes a string of videos from the recent industry workshop about the transition to catch shares.

Here's one video that provides a brief summary of the topics discussed at the workshop. See the others for further insight into the industry's discussions around reducing bycatch, enforcement, maximizing harvesting opportunities, and securing financing under the new IFQ system to start January 1, 2011.

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Ending the “Immoral” Waste of Groundfish Bycatch on the West Coast

As catch shares come to the West Coast, many fishermen are relieved that the end of wasted trawl bycatch is finally in sight. Under the existing “trip limit” groundfish management structure, fishermen for years have been required by regulation to shovel uncounted tons of dead fish overboard – a practice they find appalling. John Pennisi, a Monterey fisherman who will operate under the new catch shares policy after January 1st calls the shoveling of fish “immoral,” and reflects on what it was like to fish under a broken regulatory system in the Monterey County Weekly.

Still, opponents have filed a lawsuit to stop the program, and in discussing their lawsuit with the media have repeatedly made unsubstantiated assertions. Brent Paine, a West Coast trawl industry leader, recently pushed back on some of those claims.

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West Coast Fishermen Prepare for Transition to Catch Shares

On the West Coast, catch share management of the groundfish trawl fishery will take effect on January 1, 2011. The culmination of a seven year process, catch shares represent a major shift in the ways that West Coast trawlers – and other fishery stakeholders – will conduct their business.

Fishermen who will operate under the new system have benefited from hearing from their counterparts in British Columbia, where catch shares were established for the groundfish trawl fishery 13 years ago. Some of the province's leading trawl fishermen shared their perspectives at a recent industry workshop held in Santa Rosa, CA.

This type of information exchange is just one example of how West Coast fishermen are gearing up for the new program.  A reporter for the Half Moon Bay Review recently talked with a few of those fishermen, including Steve Fitz.

“Under the new program, there is 100 percent accountability, meaning every pound of catch is accounted for against your quota. This forces people to think of more innovative ways to be intelligent about the way they fish. Environmentally and over the long run, this will be a good program,” says Fitz.

Read the full article in the Half Moon Bay Review.

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