Monthly Archives: August 2011

Catch Shares Improve Safety for a Dangerous Job

Fishermen hauling in a fishing trawl.

Fishermen hauling in a trawl.

Today, fishing once again topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In 2010, commercial fishing had a fatality rate per 100,000 full-time-equivalent employees 33 times the average rate for U.S. workers.  Although fortunately fishing’s fatality rate did decrease from 2009, it remains true that fishermen faced the highest chance of dying on the job compared with other occupations in the U.S.

Many things make fishing dangerous, but the way we regulate the industry can make things worse. For example, regulators often manage fishing by limiting when fishermen can be on the water, such as by setting short seasons, allocating a limited number of days at sea or shutting down a fishery when too many fish have been caught.

In order to catch enough fish to stay in business, fishermen must race to catch them before others do, which can lead to fishing in dangerous weather conditions, keeping exhausted crews on the water and overloading boats with excessive gear. All of these methods maximize catch in the short term but risk lives.

In contrast, catch shares give fishermen a secure amount of seafood they don’t have to race their peers to catch. Catch shares provide flexibility to choose when to fish based on the weather and market conditions. Read More »

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Magistrate Judge Finds Gulf of Mexico Grouper and Tilefish IFQ Legal

EDF is pleased with the report and recommendations made by a magistrate judge that upholds the validity of Amendment 29.  We agree that the Council and NOAA properly implemented the program, and experience has shown that it is working the way it was intended.  The IFQ has proven to be tremendously valuable to improving the conservation and management of the fishery.  We hope that this ruling marks the end of this case.  But if not, we will continue to defend the IFQ.
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New England Catch Share Fishermen Serving Up Fresh, Traceable Fish Directly to Restaurants

Stuffed Flounder © 2010 Eliza Adam

A group of fishermen in Rhode Island who helped establish the groundfish and fluke catch share fishery management programs are now able to go back to the days when fishermen sold their fish directly to restaurants versus solely through wholesalers.  Selling directly increases the prices fishermen can get for their catch and also means customers are eating the freshest fish.

Chef John Vestal from New Rivers in Providence, Rhode Island who is a customer of the new fishermen’s distribution company Wild Rhody told The New York Times, “I have been buying all the seafood for the restaurant for over a decade, and what I saw amazed me. The fish was the absolutely most beautiful, fresh, cleanest seafood I had ever seen.”

In a recent article in The Providence Journal, fisherman Chris Brown described why it was difficult to sell directly under the old fishing derby system before the switch to catch shares: “’Used to be, years ago, they would say, ‘the season is open, go,’ Brown said. ‘There was a race to fish. We wouldn’t have been able to do something like this. Now we can fish to the prompts of the market.’” Read More »

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EDF’s Chief Oceans Scientist, Doug Rader, Works to Protect North Carolina’s Coastal Waters for “People and Critters”

Dr. Doug Rader, Chief Oceans Scientist - EDF Oceans

Dr. Doug Rader, Chief Oceans Scientist - EDF Oceans

This weekend Science and Technology reporter for The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, Tyler Dukes,  wrote about Dr. Doug Rader’s work to protect North Carolina’s costal waters.  In addition to being EDF’s Chief Oceans Scientist, Dr. Rader also sits on the North Carolina Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy, which will release its final report next month on the state’s coastal energy resources.

In the article, Dukes shares how Dr. Rader has spent his career helping to shape coastal policy that addresses the needs of both marine life and fishermen, as well as others who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. As Dr. Rader puts it — policy that works for both “people and critters.”

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Judge Dismisses Attempt to Halt West Coast Fishery

Earlier this year, EDF joined with two West Coast fishing industry organizations (United Catcher Boats and Midwater Trawlers Cooperative) in an amicus brief requesting dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). PCFFA had filed suit to halt the West Coast groundfish trawl program.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer ruled in the case, dismissed PCFFA’s claims in their entirety and granted summary judgment to the federal defendants (the Secretary of Commerce, NMFS and NOAA). This is an excellent outcome for a program with real potential to transform a failed fishery into a profitable and sustainable one for years to come.

Please see the news release on the ruling below and download the court’s decision on the West Coast Trawlers’ Network website. Read More »

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