Selected tags: west coast

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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NOAA Official Addresses West Coast Fishermen

The regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Will Stelle spoke to west coast groundfish trawl fishermen at a workshop co-sponsored by EDF. Stelle spoke about the transition on January 1st to a new catch share program that aims to stem the decline of this fishery.   He acknowledged that fishermen will have to change their business models to succeed but noted that there is significant support for them including federal appropriations and a new fund to support innovation in catch share fisheries. 

The workshop brought pacific groundfish trawl fishermen together with catch share fishermen and other experts to share their knowledge and help ease the transition to catch shares.  Proceedings of the workshop will soon be available at a new web site –

Will Stelle speaks at IFQ Workshop Dinner 09/26/2010 from Environmental Defense Fund on Vimeo.

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Catch Share Workshop for Fishermen Gets Underway in Pacific

Welcome to IFQ Workshop - Signage for transition workshop for the Pacific Trawl Groundfish catch share

Signage for transition workshop for the Pacific Trawl Groundfish IFQ catch share program.

More than 150 groundfish trawl fishermen and fishery experts from up and down the west coast have gathered in Santa Rosa, California today to learn how to structure their businesses under a new catch share program that will start Jan. 1st.  Fishermen will hear from other fishermen who have made the transition to catch shares as well as government officials, fishery monitors, business and finance planners, and other fishery experts.  The goal is to give fishermen the tools to thrive under the new system. 

The workshop started this morning with introductory comments from Brian Mose, a trawl fisherman from British Columbia. Mose said that when his fishery – nearly identical to the U.S. groundfish fishery – moved to a catch share, fishermen had no help to figure out the new system.  He described fishermen as “shell shocked.”  But within a few months, fishermen began making changes, and today, the program is a success.  Fishermen are making money and the fish stocks are stable or growing. 

The new Pacific catch share was seven years in the making and should be a turning point for fishermen and the groundfish they harvest.  Just ten years ago, the fishery was declared a disaster.  Landings have plummeted 70 percent in the last two decades, and since 1998 revenues have dropped from $47.3 million to $22.2 million.

Attendees at the Pacific trawl groundfish IFQ transition workshop on September 27, 2010.

Attendees at the Pacific trawl groundfish IFQ transition workshop on September 27, 2010.

Under the new system, fishermen will not be in a rush to fish and deliver their catch. Instead, they will time their trips in accordance with both weather and market forecasts, maximizing their profits while fishing in a safer, more efficient, and sustainable way. The approved plan includes precedent-setting provisions aimed at protecting coastal communities and the environment. There are several features in the plan that makes it stand out as a model for sustainable and adaptive fisheries management. The Council and NOAA have seen to it that fishermen and coastal communities have a real say in how they adopt new practices and adapt to the catch share system.

Stay tuned for more updates from the workshop throughout the week.

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Oregon Trawl Commission Poll Shows Strong Support for Keeping the IFQ Program on Track

A recent survey of trawl fishermen in Oregon is a good yardstick for the present outlook of West Coast trawl fishermen who will be moving to a catch share program in January 2011. The poll shows strong support for keeping the IFQ program on track for implementation:

  • 40 supported actively working to ensure implementation in 2011, while 16 preferred a delayed implementation date. 
  • There were only 17 votes in opposition to the program out of a total of 73 who responded to the poll.

The significance of this vote is that even in the face of uncertainty about this new catch share program, the trawl fishermen of Oregon believe that the program is a significant improvement over status quo management, and a vital step to saving the groundfish fishery from its continued downward spiral.

In response to questions about the upcoming change in management of the Pacific groundfish trawl fishery, the Oregon Trawl Commission (OTC) conducted a membership poll asking the Oregon fleet to respond to three questions related to support for the Pacific groundfish trawl catch shares program.  This new management program has been designed to generate millions of dollars more income at the fleet level, get rid of wasteful regulatory discards, and reward those fishermen who are best able to avoid sensitive overfished species. Since Oregon has the majority of trawl fishermen of all three affected West Coast states, the poll is a good measurement of fishermen sentiment.

The Oregon Trawl Commission is a state agency that works to support the trawl industry in Oregon, and is supported by assessments on all trawl-caught fish landed in Oregon.

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New Year Brings Over 20 Catch Share Management Programs to U.S.

An IFQ for the Pacific groundifhs commercial trawl fishery is expected to be implemented in 2011.The West Coast is a big step closer to improving management of its valuable and struggling groundfish fishery.  A plan for individual fishing quotas (IFQs) was identified as a top priority for the groundfish commercial trawl fishery by fishermen and the regional fishery management council.  A goal for implementation in 2011 has been set.

This program and one in Alaska, along with the Gulf of Mexico’s recently approved commercial red snapper, grouper and tilefish IFQs are the newest additions to the United States’ catch share portfolio – now 20 programs strong. The first catch share in the U.S. was implemented in 1990 as an IFQs for the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog fishery.  Since then, states like Alaska have led the way with IFQs, community development quotas and cooperatives for its halibut, sablefish, crab, and pollock fleets.  And, New England has implemented catch share “sector” management for portions of the hook and line and fixed gear cod fisheries. 

These various catch share programs have benefits not often found under traditional management — they are successful in keeping harvests in-line with catch limits, reducing wasted fish and helping fishermen improve business practices. 

Learn more about catch shares or see a fact sheet on IFQs.

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