Catch Shares Not for Private Anglers – Part of EDF’s Comments on NOAA’s Draft Catch Share Policy

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy Director

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy Director

EDF recently submitted comments to NOAA on its draft catch share policy.  In the letter we address how catch shares are better than fishery closures; how they improve fishing jobs and restore the resource; and how they are locally designed to meet specific biological, economic and social goals. We also address the importance of stakeholder input in the design of a catch share program.

We’ve been asked recently what EDF’s position is regarding recreational fishing and catch shares.  Here’s what we say in our letter to NOAA:

There are two distinct segments of the recreational fishing community: charter boats and private individual anglers. Current management is failing both segments, as seasons dwindle, bag limits shrink, size limits increase and fishing opportunities are decreased. The recreational fishing community deserves better than that.

Since charter boat captains maintain a fishery-dependent business similar to commercial fishermen, catch shares management should be considered for that segment. However, for private anglers catch shares are not appropriate and a new approach is needed. We should support new ideas that can help get fishermen back on the water and restore the resource.

Read EDF’s full letter of comments to NOAA.

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  1. Mary Beth de Poutiloff aka muddog
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Improves fishing jobs? 50-75% of fishermen get pushed out of fisheries. We now have NO job. Catch Shares improves the assets of the minority fishermen “gifted” with ownership. The 80% revenue increase is for this minority segment. Our communities are destroyed as money leaves the coast & funnels into Wall Street.

    Resources recover? Please explain that. Our US stocks are at 80% NOT over fished. This figure 60% over fished or under going over fishing must be globally.

    You are not recommending Catch Shares for the recreational fishermen now, but how do we know you won’t change your mind.

    What are your qualifications to determine our fisheries management? Why are you ignoring the stock assessments? Science has to be the foundation of all FMP (fishery management plans). Who will be responsible when your Catch Shares fail?

  2. Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Mary Beth,
    We actually agree on several things. Conventional management has not only failed fish stocks, but also the fishermen and fishing communities that rely on them. Thousands of fishing jobs have ALREADY been lost – especially in New England – and fishing communities have suffered as a result. EDF believes that well-designed catch shares can not only stop the bleeding, but help foster vibrant coastal communities over the long-term. That’s why we’ve written a Catch Shares Design Manual (, which helps fishermen and fishery managers design programs that take the social and economic needs of their communities into account.

    I also agree that good science is critical to successful fisheries management – catch shares or not. However, right now NMFS can only say with certainty that about 25% of our stocks are fished sustainably. Another 50% don’t have sufficient information to make a determination, so we don’t really know whether they’re ‘overfished’ or not. But in its report to Congress, NOAA has identified more than 60 federal stocks as ‘overfished’ or ‘undergoing overfishing’ (

    Luckily, we’ve seen in a number of fisheries that science improves dramatically under catch shares. This means that management uncertainty is reduced, giving fishermen MORE access to fish. They can keep fishing while the resource recovers, avoiding the need for dwindling seasons and outright fishery closures. The same definitely can’t be said for conventional management.

  3. Mary Beth de Poutiloff aka muddog
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Amanda, Catch Shares only gives OWNERSHIP of future fish. In the end we will be left with investors and factory fishing fleets.

    Catch Shares have to be so carefully designed because they are a bad idea. Hard TAC is no different than Catch Shares but without leasing or transferability.

    Catch Shares/ITQ’s have failed in Europe & AK. So after you privatize our oceans & the mega-corps pillage the fish, how is EDF going to be accountable? Being sorry won’t bring the fish back.