Seafood.com Editor and Publisher John Sackton: Time to Clean Up Hypocrisy and Mis-information in Catch Share Debate

Time to Clean up Hypocrisy and Mis-information in Catch Share debate
As originally printed on SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – Dec 3, 2009.
Reprinted with permission.

Two editorials we print today against catch shares contain enough mis-information and hypocrisy that we felt compelled to set the record straight. Reading the Food and Water Watch editorial in the Portland Press Herald, or the editorial again slamming NMFS in today’s Gloucester Daily Times, you would think a conflagration is burning in New England against catch shares.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The biggest issue causing consternation in the industry in New England is not catch shares, but whether blind adherence to bureaucratic procedures will doom the success of catch shares. About 97% of the fleet has signed on to sector programs, and they are focused on making them work.

Here is our attempt to set the record straight:

Huge errors in NMFS data

There have been repeated stories about how many errors exist in the NMFS catch history database, so that many boats are fishing on incorrect history, and have no opportunity to correct them until 2011. At the recent Council meeting, Pat Kurkul, NMFS regional administrator, said that out of 1480 eligible histories, only 66 have been challenged. This is far fewer than NMFS expected. As a result, they are able to have individual discussions with each person challenging their history.

On the other hand, if you don’t own the permit yourself, there is no way to challenge the history, so if you had been leasing a permit, it is the owner of the permit who is responsible for making any challenge. Therefore it is quite likely that there are additional vessels using leased permits where the lease holder thinks the history is inaccurate, but the owner either does not have the records or has left the fishery, and will not challenge the allocation. But in either case, the number of errors and challenges is not nearly as large as some would want you to believe. Read More »

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Kemp’s Ridley Comeback (Part II)

Kemps ridley sea turtleEarlier this summer I reported on the revival of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the smallest of all the sea turtles, which I’m happy to report has now had another record breaking nesting year! 197 nests have been spotted along the Texas coast and more could still be discovered, though August typically marks the end of the turtles’ nesting season. In 2001 fewer than ten turtles were found on the Texas Coast, but in part due to protections that government, industry and EDF and other conservation groups helped win for the turtles, this year marks the sixth year in a row of increased nestings.

A similar trend for this turtle has also been reported south of the border.  In the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, nestings back in 1985 numbered as few as 700 (down from 40,000).  Through Mexican efforts to protect the nesting sites, there are now upwards of 20,000 annually.

Check out a recent news story on how many interests came together to make this recovery a reality and stay tuned for next season!

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