Monthly Archives: May 2009

Talkin’ Catch Shares on the Texas Coast

By Marcie Jones, Gulf of Mexico Program Coordinator, Environmental Defense Fund Oceans Program

I recently attended Corpus Christi’s 10th Annual Earth Day – Bay Day Festival on behalf of EDF’s Gulf of Mexico Oceans program.  I’d heard about the festival since I started at EDF last year, so I was really excited to share our catch share message with the 10,000+ attendees.

This annual event is hosted by The Coastal Bend Bays Foundation so that locals can learn about bays, estuaries, wetlands, native plants and animals, recycling and general conservation and environmental issues. 

Our booth was full of information, facts and photos that showcased the problems with fisheries, explained why people should care, and described how catch shares can help. I met many interesting people, from age 5 to 85, asking about our work, commenting on the booth photos and picking up information such as our Oceans of Abundance report.

By the end of the day, I’d talked with hundreds about our work and had lots of ideas to improve the booth for next year.

Cool tidbit: At the beginning of the festival the Gulf Coast Indian Confederation blessed the grounds with a drum circle ceremony.

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Captain Bill Kelly’s Radio Show, Live from the Florida Keys

Michelle Owen, EDF Recreational Fisheries SpecialistMichelle Owen, EDF’s Recreational Fisheries Specialist, shares her first experience appearing on the Captain Bill Kelly Friday Night Radio Show in the Florida Keys.

What was scheduled as a 30 minute meeting on April 17th with Captain Bill Kelly turned into 90 minutes as he persuaded me to be a guest on his Friday night radio show.  The show is great community radio  broadcasted live every Friday night from Wahoo’s Bar and Restaurant at the Whale Harbor Marina in Islamorada.  Yes, my meeting was scheduled in a bar, it’s the Keys! And it’s the perfect spot for a productive meeting – a great view of the charterboat fishing fleet, fresh fish and a great crowd. Not too surprising that a fishing show packs the bar every Friday night. 

Michelle Owen with Captain Bill Kelly, and Rob Clift of the National Parks Conservation Association, during the Captain Bill Kelly Friday Night Radio Show live from the Florida Keys.It was my first time on the radio and Capt. Kelly and his co-host did an excellent job keeping it easy and fun. Capt. Kelly introduced me to his listening audience and encouraged recreational fisherman in the Keys to contact me to learn more about EDF’s fisheries work. 

I have a standing invitation to come back for a more lengthy topical conversation and I plan on taking him up on that offer sooner rather than later.   Though I can’t promise a view, I’ll let you know when you should fire up the grill, pour a cold drink and listen live via internet to EDF talk fish on the “Friday Night Radio Show”. 

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Recovering from Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico

Fishermen under IFQs were able to keep their businesses going after Hurricane Ike.Eight months after Hurricane Ike slammed Texas’ largest fishing community, Galveston is steadily recovering from the storm. Red snapper fishermen under IFQ management kept their businesses going because they could fish later in the year and lease quota to others when they couldn’t fish themselves. Read more.

Destroyed Kemp’s ridley turtle habitat
Endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles have shown a strong come-back in recent years.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike damaged and piled debris on their South Padre Island nesting beaches. Volunteers worked to restore and clean up the sites before the turtles’ nesting season, which began last month. Experts are hopeful that these efforts will help Kemp’s ridleys keep recovering. Read more.

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New National Fishing Policy Announced Today Focused on Catch Shares

Diane Regas is Associate Vice President for EDF’s Oceans program. 

Diane Regas, Associate Vice President - EDF Oceans ProgramThe top government official for the nation’s fisheries today took a giant step in the right direction for the U.S. fishing industry and the oceans.  At a speech in Boston, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that she was creating a task force to develop a new policy on catch shares to ensure that they are fully considered when fishery management councils amend management plans. 

Recent scientific studies have shown that catch shares perform dramatically better than conventionally-managed fisheries.  The bottom line is that the new policy is likely to dramatically increase the number of fisheries managed by catch shares and that’s great news for the oceans and fishermen.

In her speech, Dr. Lubchenco said that NOAA would move “forward to implement more catch share programs” and that “all of the (fishery management) councils will see increases in their allocations in the 2010 (budget) request” for catch shares.  She also announced a new task force to develop a nation-wide catch share strategy.

Here’s the full text of Dr. Lubchenco’s speech this morning:

Comments by Dr. Jane Lubchenco at the Council Coordination Committee Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts – Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

Read More »

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Boston Globe Op-Ed by Peter Baker and Robert Johnston Raises Key Point

Julie Wormser, NE Regional Director for EDF Oceans program.Yesterday’s Boston Globe op-ed by Peter Baker and Robert Johnston, and the economic report on which it’s based, make a key point that I think is the cause of a lot of the conflict and distrust between fishermen and fisheries managers. 

The underlying economics of any effort-based regulation–such as the current “days-at-sea” system for New England groundfish–mean that the average profitability of the fishing fleet is zero at the target catch level regulators set.  This drives fishermen with capital to be more productive than the fleet average, and fishermen without access to capital are driven out of the fishery.  Overfishing continues and regulators are forced to continually clamp down on fishing effort.

Under sectors, a form of “catch shares,” the underlying economics are to maximize profitability–both of individual boats and the fleet as a whole.  Regulators set an annual catch limit, allocate portions of that catch limit in this case to fishing cooperatives, and fishermen are free to fish when and how they can make the most money per fish.  It takes pressure off fishermen to catch as much fish as they possibly can just to break even.

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Oil Exploration in Cuban Waters, Only One of Many Important Marine Issues

Thoughts from Dan Whittle. Dan is the Southeast Regional Director for EDF’s Oceans program. He works to reform management of marine fisheries and to protect sensitive coastal areas and essential fish habitats in the southeastern United States and in the northern Caribbean, including Cuba.  

Dan Whittle, Southeast Regional Director for EDF Oceans program.The U.S. and Cuba share many ecological resources, but the countries have different ways of managing them.  Drilling is just one important issue out of many and is covered well in Nick Miroff’s Washington Post article, Cuba’s Undersea Oil Could Help Thaw Trade With U.S.  The U.S. and Cuba should move quickly to facilitate more information exchange among academics, scientists and conservation groups to help both countries do a better job of managing coastal and marine resources.  The sooner we work together, the sooner we’ll see benefits for the people, the environment and the economy in both countries.

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