NPR Covers Forthcoming West Coast Catch Share

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition ran a story this morning about the West Coast groundfish catch share that will start January 1, 2011.   The story featured fishermen who are preparing for the new program and believe that it will be a big improvement over the old management system.  To help fishermen make the transition to catch shares, the West Coast Trawlers’ Network, a group of industry leaders from the west coast groundfish trawl fleet, created a new web site filled with information and resources.

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SeafoodNews.com Highlights Cooperation Among Industry Groups Preparing for the Switch to Catch Shares in Pacific Trawl Fishery

Tom Lalley, EDF Oceans Marketing & Communications Director

Tom Lalley, EDF Oceans Marketing & Communications Director

An article on SeafoodNews.com highlights cooperation among industry groups to prepare for a switch to catch shares in the West Coast trawl fishery next year.  Fishermen, federal government officials, environmentalists, fishery management experts and on-board observer companies – among others – are collaborating to make the transition a success.

Fishing organizations and EDF recently facilitated a workshop in Santa Rosa, CA to share information and tips on a number of topics, like financing and trading quota, fishery mapping and “hotspot management,” cooperative risk pools, increasing revenues, and reducing bycatch. Videos from that event are now available at www.westcoasttrawlers.net. The West Coast Trawlers’ Network is an informal association comprised of the Fisherman’s Marketing Association, Midwater Trawler’s Cooperative, Oregon Trawl Commission, Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative and United Catcher Boats.

Full article from SeafoodNews.com posted with permission from John Sackton.

West Coast commercial fishing groups make concerted effort to get ahead of catch share transition

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton – Oct 25, 2010 – IFQ’s are coming to the West Coast groundfishery in 2011, and a coalition of industry associations have been working together to prepare for the upcoming changes.

The West Coast trawlers network consists of the Coos Bay Trawlers Association, the Fishermen’s Marketing Association, the Midwater Trawling Cooperative, the Oregon Trawl Commission, the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative, and United Catcher Boats.

Several of these organizations members have had extensive experience with IFQ programs in Alaska, including how these programs allowed vessels to better manage fleet bycatch, and minimize shutdowns.

Recently the group sponsored a major workshop that was attended by representatives of about half the trawl fleet.

According to Scott Coughlin, a coordinator of the workshop, the group has now posted a series of videos and powerpoints from the workshop on their web site http://www.westcoasttrawlers.net/.

The presentations range from gear and bycatch experts to a representative from Dock street brokers, and cover a range of operational questions involving IFQ programs.

‘The videos present an unusual opportunity to hear from a broad range of experts addressing catch share management of the trawl fishery – a timely topic that affects nearly every West Coast fishing community,’ said Coughlin.

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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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More Press Coverage of How Catch Shares Make Fishing Safer

In Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News story: Deadliest Catch? Salmon, Not Crab, fisheries journalist Laine Welch writes about new statistics on where fishing fatalities are the worst. It turns out crab in the Bering Sea is not the deadliest catch. That fishery claimed the lives of 12 crabbers since 2000, while other fisheries saw many more deaths [Gulf of Mexico shrimp (55), Atlantic scallop (44) and Alaska salmon (39)].

Welch says the Bering Sea crabbers attribute the increased safety to the shift to catch share management in 2005. She explains that only one life has been lost since 2005, compared to 77 deaths between 1991 and 2005.

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60 Fishermen, 23 EDF Staff, 89 Meetings: Lawmakers Hear About Catch Shares

EDF Oceans Communications Director Tom Lalley holding a fish on a boat with Willy Phillips of NC

Tom Lalley, EDF Oceans Communications Director and author of this blog post.

A frenetic week in Washington, D.C. brought Congressional leaders together with fishermen.  Early mornings, full days and late nights were the norm as fishermen spread the message that catch shares are important for their future.  Funding for the national catch shares program is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

As fishermen face closures for the fisheries they depend on, they told lawmakers how catch shares avoid closures and allow fishing to continue even as stocks recover.  Catch shares avoid the blow dealt by closures to communities and fishing jobs.

Many fishermen also zeroed in on the universal call for better fisheries science.  Catch shares give you robust catch accounting and monitoring, whereas conventionally-managed fisheries often have few data with minimal monitoring coverage.

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Fishermen Come to D.C. to Educate Lawmakers About Catch Shares

United States CapitolApproximately 50 fishermen have arrived in Washington, D.C. today to tell members of Congress how important catch shares are to their future.   Funding for the national catch shares program is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.  The fishermen are in Washington to talk to their Congressional representatives and Senators about how conventional management is increasingly pushing fishermen off the water and how catch shares is a solution that keeps fishermen working – even while fish stocks recover.
Today more than 60 federal stocks are overfished or undergoing overfishing.  Thousands of fishing jobs have been lost as fisheries have declined under the current management system. This adverse impact from conventional management continues to increase as many valuable fisheries face huge closures or dwindling seasons, which will have devastating impacts on fishing jobs and coastal communities.

During their visits to Capitol Hill, fishermen will tell lawmakers how catch shares are locally designed to meet economic, social, and conservation goals.  Catch shares management is not a one-size-fits-all approach; rather programs are designed to meet the specific needs and goals of each fishery.

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