Monthly Archives: October 2009

Nobel Prize Winning Economist–Did She Really Take a Side?

Diane Regas, Associate Vice President - EDF Oceans ProgramWhen Nobel Prize winners speak, people tend to listen. Recent economics prize winner Elinor Ostrom was cited “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.” The governance of the commons is exactly the problem we face in fisheries—in the United States and the world.

This week Dr. Ostrom has been quoted in the catch shares debate in New England—and the quotes did not sound to me like the work that Dr. Ostrom has done. So we at EDF asked her what she thought. Here is what she said:

“I am quite distressed to find that I am being characterized as supporting or opposing particular policies to manage fisheries in New England. To be clear, I have not taken a side in this debate.

“Fishermen and fishing communities all over the world are facing loss of the ocean resources that they depend on. What my work and the work of other scholars shows above all is that the issues involved in managing natural resources are complex. A range of approaches have worked in different places and under different circumstances.

“I have not yet had the opportunity to study the “sectors” approach in detail, and so do not have a view on how it is likely to perform. What we can be confident of is that reducing overfishing and achieving sustainability for the long run will require good-faith effort, hard work, and cooperation among local communities and government authorities.”

Posted in Uncategorized / Tagged , , , , | Read 1 Response

Seafood Choices, Helpful Tools from EDF and Monterey Bay Aquarium

Salmon steak with tomatoes and limeLast week, as part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program released a report entitled, “Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood.” It outlines the challenges and opportunities facing the global seafood industry, and how consumers, businesses and policy makers in North America can make a difference in the health of our oceans.
One piece of the report that was covered extensively, was the creation of a “Super Green” list of seafood choices, which are both fished or farmed responsibly AND good for your health. I worked with the Aquarium over the last several months to develop and refine this list based on EDF’s extensive research on the topic. Here are the best choices that we identified:

  • Albacore Tuna (from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Mussels (farmed)
  • Oysters (farmed)
  • Pacific Sardines
  • Pink Shrimp (from Oregon)
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed)
  • Salmon (from Alaska)
  • Spot Prawns (from British Columbia)

A second tier of good choices with slightly lower, but still beneficial levels of omega-3s includes Arctic char, farmed bay scallops, U.S. crawfish, Dungeness crab, U.S. longfin squid, and longline-caught Pacific cod from Alaska.
Too often the debate around this issue is portrayed as black and white – either that all seafood is healthy and should be consumed whenever possible, or that it’s all contaminated and we should get our omega-3s from sources other than fish. Well we now know that that doesn’t have to be the case. You can still enjoy the health benefits of seafood consumption, while minimizing your exposure to contaminants and supporting responsible fisheries and aquaculture operations. Now that’s a win-win for everyone.
For everything you could ever want to know about your favorite types of fish (including fishing/farming practices, biological information, nutritional content, recipes and consumption advisories), visit EDF’s Seafood Selector. And for up-to-the-second information on all things-fish related, follow me on Twitter @hawaiifitz.

Posted in Seafood / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

U.S. and Cuba, Working Together to Protect Shared Resources

Cuba lies just 90 miles from the tip of Florida. The two areas share a large expanse of ocean – and the huge array of biodiversity contained within it. That’s why EDF staffers are in Cuba this week to discuss ways to eliminate overfishing, protect coral reefs, conserve coastal areas, and tap potential ocean energy in our shared backyard.

Already, in September, EDF hosted a Cuban delegation in a move towards creating greater scientific exchange between the two countries. “The U.S. and Cuba share many ecological resources, but have different ways of managing them,” says EDF’s Dan Whittle. “Fishing, coastal development, and offshore oil and gas exploration in Cuba can have impacts in the U.S., and vice-versa. The sooner we work together to manage shared resources and find solutions to common problems, the sooner we’ll see benefits for the people, the environment and the economy in both countries.”

We’ll have a follow up post to report on the trip when our scientists return.

Posted in Cuba / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

First Woman Recipient of Nobel Prize for Economics, A Key Player in Ending the Race for Fish

Elinor Ostrom, who shares this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics, laid much of the intellectual foundation for EDF’s current work with fishery cooperatives. Catch shares evolved from common property theory and empirical observations that, under certain conditions, resources such as fish, water, or pasture land tend to be overexploited when property rights are not clearly delineated. Ostrom’s research shows that resource users can develop cooperative methods to avoid overexploiting resources and dissipating wealth through competition. 

While some say that this idea “challenges” the conventional wisdom, research conducted by EDF’s Ocean Innovations suggests that competitive and cooperative dynamics depend on scale and the attributes of the communities themselves. Our results will soon be published in the Bulletin of Marine Science. This research and our experience with fishermen on the water motivates our work with the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association and the Morro Bay Community Based Fishing Association, two pioneering efforts to cooperatively manage fisheries. 

We believe that cooperative approaches can complement catch shares, which often apply at larger scales and to more industrial, less socially cohesive fishing communities. Such approaches are also broadly applicable in many developing countries, where social values are emphasized over individualism and economic gain, and where legal and political structures facilitate the delegation of resource use privileges to groups.

Posted in Uncategorized / Tagged , , , , | Read 8 Responses

How Well Do You Know the Oceans?

Here’s a fun quiz from Planet Green that “tests your smarts on ocean science, fishing, climate change effects and more.” Take this quiz and test your oceans IQ!

Posted in Uncategorized / Comments are closed