Monthly Archives: September 2010

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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Tim Fitzgerald, EDF Oceans’ Senior Policy Specialist Testifies at Today’s Oil Spill Commission Hearing

Tim Fitzgerald, EDF Senior Oceans Policy Specialist

Tim Fitzgerald, EDF Senior Oceans Policy Specialist

Today, Tim Fitzgerald, EDF’s Senior Policy Specialist for Oceans, testified at the third meeting of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Speaking particularly on concerns of seafood safety, Tim mentioned EDF’s work with the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance to help them preserve their markets in the face of this disaster. Read Tim’s full remarks:

September 28, 2010
National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, 3rd Meeting – Testimony of Tim Fitzgerald, Senior Policy Specialist, Oceans Program, Environmental Defense Fund

Good afternoon. First, I’d like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to testify today on this critically important topic. I’m a Senior Policy Specialist in the Oceans Program of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with a scientific background in marine ecology and physiology. For the last seven years I’ve worked specifically on issues of seafood sustainability and health for EDF, and I was asked to testify today about the public perception of Gulf seafood safety and the work that we’ve begun with fishermen to address ongoing consumer concerns. For background, EDF is a leading national nonprofit organization representing more than 700,000 members that links science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems.

As you may already know, the seafood market is inherently confusing for consumers. Most people have very little connection to, or understanding of, the fish they buy. More than 80% of fish that Americans eat is imported, coming from nearly every country on Earth and caught or farmed under dozens of different regulatory schemes and environmental conditions. Given this complexity, there are numerous opinions – often conflicting – over what seafood is “good” or “bad”. Regardless, opinion polls, focus groups, and other studies have consistently shown that quality and safety are two top concerns for consumers. Read More »

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New Fund to Support Fishermen and Communities in the Transition to Catch Shares

Today the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), a Congressionally-chartered non-profit, announced a new Fisheries Innovation Fund to “support sustainable fisheries in the U.S. by fostering innovation and supporting effective participation of fishermen and fishing communities in the design and implementation of catch share fisheries.”  Grants will focus on capacity building, fishery innovations, and monitoring and evaluation in catch share programs. 

About $2.2 million is expected to be awarded this year.  The pre-proposal process is open through November 30, 2010.  The grants are expected to range from $50,000 to $200,000.  Projects will continue for up to two years and funds will be allocated based on the merits of each proposal.

Check out the announcement for more details, including the on-line pre-proposal application

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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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EDF Partners with National Geographic on “I Am The Ocean” Campaign

Help Protect the Ocean. Join I Am The Ocean today.Last week, National Geographic launched the campaign “I Am The Ocean“, also referred to as Mission Blue. This effort in partnership with several environmental organizations, including EDF, sends out a global call to action to raise public awareness, start conversations, and inspire people to help protect the ocean.

One billion people worldwide depend on fish and shellfish for their protein. The ocean is key to sustaining life on the planet — from the air we breathe to the water we drink, so it is critical for us to protect it.

Through this action-oriented marine conservation initiative, you can participate by making the right seafood choices, volunteering for costal clean-up, and learning about 10 other things you can do to save the ocean. In addition, you can even purchase a bottle of “I Am the Ocean” wine and $4 will be donated to promote marine protected areas and reduce overfishing. Join “I Am The Ocean” today.

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Dan Whittle and Doug Rader Discuss Cuba on PBS, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden” Premieres This Sunday

Dan Whittle, EDF Cuba Program Director; Dr. Doug Rader, Chief Oceans Scientist

This Sunday, September 26, “Cuba: The Accidental Eden” premiers on PBS’ NATURE series and includes interviews with our own Dan Whittle and Dr. Doug Rader.  Cuba’s shores and surrounding waters hold a tremendous amount of ecological treasures of vital importance to marine conservation in the Caribbean. Our Latin America and Caribbean team at EDF, including Dan and Doug, recognize Cuba’s environmental significance and has been collaborating with Cuban scientists to address issues of overfishing, coral reefs protection and coastal conservation, and potential ocean energy.

PBS’ NATURE Series also recognizes the environmental wealth and challenges scientists face in their work on Cuba. The program will show the work of these scientists and take a look at how the possibility of an end to the U.S. trade embargo could increase development and threaten a nearly pristine ecosystem, or position Cuba to set an example for development and conservation around the world.  Check local listings.

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