Selected tag(s): Environmental Defense Fund

Seattle Times Cites Benefits of West Coast Catch Share Program

Winona J Docked in Newport, Oregon

“This is a really big deal,” said Will Stelle in a Sunday Seattle Times story which highlights the benefits of the groundfish catch share program on the West Coast. “It is restructuring the architecture of the fishery, building in very real and powerful incentives to do the right thing,” said the Northwest regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. The article cites several benefits that West Coast fishermen are seeing, including dramatic reduction of regulatory discards, fishing gear innovations and improved revenues. To read the full article, click here.

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Sportfishing, Conservation Groups Suggest Oil Spill Spending Priorities for Administration and Congress

Thirteen groups signed letters today to both the Administration and Congressional Appropriators in response to the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The letters present fishery management and economic-related recommendations for broadening the scope of and increasing the amount of funding in the spending package proposed on May 12 by President Obama.

The groups’ recommendations cover fishery management, including stock assessments, improvements to fishery data collection and monitoring, and cooperative research, so that fishery managers will have the most accurate and timely information to assess the impacts of the spill. The groups also recommend direct economic relief for recreational fishing businesses and other fishing-related businesses.

Sign-on letter participants:

  • American Sportfishing Association
  • Berkley Conservation Institute
  • The Billfish Foundation
  • Bonefish and Tarpon Trust
  • Center for Coastal Conservation
  • Coastal Conservation Association
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • International Game Fish Association
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • The Ocean Conservancy
  • Oceana
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

EDF made a complementary request to Congress and the President earlier this week for at least $100 million to help fishing communities recover from the spill.

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EDF Wants to Get It Right: Helping Fishermen and the Fishing Industry

I believe in US fishermen and our fisheries.  My brother and uncle both worked in fish houses and on fishing docks.  I have sorted fish alongside NOAA fish scientists on research cruises in the Gulf of Maine.  Even now, a great afternoon for me is talking with fishermen – maybe about fishing but about everyday stuff, too. 

Here’s one thing I also believe: Fishermen get a rough deal from nearly every quarter.  I’ve watched them struggle with ups and downs in the economy, with regulations that aren’t working and with public opinion that casts them as the bad guys in stories about ocean declines.  All the guff fishermen take is as big a pile of crap as the notion that I am interested in some kind of sell-off of New England fisheries.

There is a story being circulated in the Gloucester Times that is playing on – and distorting – very real concerns, concerns that I share, about the recession and unethical financial dealings.  Although the allegations about EDF are not true, we strongly share the author’s core concern: What’s the best way to evolve from today’s declining fisheries to ones that have lots of fish and jobs? 

One thing we’re going to need, for sure, is money.  From the fishermen’s point of view, where’s the best place to get that money?  One option is government. Some places, like New England, are blessed with powerful senators who can bring home the bacon.  Others aren’t so lucky.  In any event, government money always comes with strings.  Banks are another option.  But is there anyone out there who believes fishermen are getting the best possible deal from the government or the banks?  Fishermen tell us they’d welcome more choices because more choices mean a better deal. 

That is why we at EDF are working with fishermen to help them establish their own funds to purchase quota.  That is why we’ve set up the California Fisheries Fund to make loans to fishermen that banks won’t make.  That is why we help advise the Sea Change Investment Fund that directly invests in building markets for sustainably caught fish to benefit fishermen.  That is also why I will talk to anyone, anytime – including investors at the Milken Institute – about the incredible opportunity there is to work with fishermen to restore both fisheries and fishermen’s livelihood.

What I’m out there telling the wider financial community is that fishermen are good business partners.  Alerting new communities of investors to the risks and potential profits of catch share fisheries increases the number of options fishermen have for the financing they are going to need to evolve their fisheries.  And, obviously, the more options fishermen have, the better deal they will be able to negotiate within the bounds of the rules set up for each fishery.  Defining these fishery-specific rules well is important.  They can include such things as accumulation caps, owner on board, fishery association by-laws or whatever else is appropriate for each fishery. 

If you hear something that strikes you as wrong here, let me know.  EDF wants to get it right when it comes to helping fishermen and the industry.  I want to get it right.  If you have ideas about better things to try than simply more of the same that hasn’t worked over the past decades, please let us at EDF know.  Our minds are wide open.  There is room for improvement everywhere – including ideas EDF puts forward.

A lot needs to change (regulations, enforcement, financing, and marketing) to bring back our fishing communities.  Working together and pulling in the same direction, we can do it. 

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The Transition to Catch Shares in New England: EDF’s Julie Wormser on WBUR Radio Boston

Julie Wormser, NE Regional Director of EDF Oceans ProgramEarlier today, Julie Wormser – EDF Oceans’ regional director in New England, appeared on WBUR’s Radio Boston show to discuss next week’s New England Fishery Council vote on whether or not to transition the region’s groundfish fishery to sector catch shares management.  Explaining how catch shares work and answering tough questions from the host and listeners, Julie made the case for how catch shares are an effective way to manage a public resource in a way that rebuilds fish stocks and economically benefits fishermen. Listen to the full show online.

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Senior Scientist Rod Fujita Comments on NMFS’ New Salmon Biological Opinion

Two weeks ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service release a new Biological Opinion on the ecological challenges of salmon populations in the Pacific, including the California Bay-Delta (Sacramento-San Joaquin). EDF Senior Scientist, Rod Fujita comments on NMFS Biological Opinion and how the efforts of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan must equally match those of NMFS. Read his full post on EDFish’ sister blog, On the Water Front.

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Selecting Sustainable Seafood: The Challenge for Consumers

Diane Regas is Associate Vice President for EDFMaking sustainable seafood choices at the fish counter and at restaurants are daunting tasks for most people, even for experts such as New York Times food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman. In his recent article, Bittman acknowledges the challenge of being a seafood consumer interested in both taste and environmental ethics.

“The buying has become a logistical and ethical nightmare,” Bittman states.

I’m glad that Bittman refuses to give up either eating fish or factoring sustainability into what he buys.  He tries to keep his selection of sustainable seafood simple with a few rules of thumb focused on staying away from the most troubled fish stocks.

When we all demand sustainable seafood, I think it will help support some of the tough decisions that need to be made to get the oceans healthy again.  Scientists tell us that the two best solutions are protecting the sensitive places in the ocean and managing the fish we catch properly through catch shares fishery management.

It is absolutely amazing that all the fisheries in the world are either fully fished at capacity or have been fished to collapse.  Yet strong evidence published in the journals Science and Nature show that catch shares end, prevent and even reverse the collapse of fisheries. In addition to ending overfishing and rebuilding fish stocks, well designed catch shares provide economic stability for fishermen and fishing communities.

Fortunately for the environment, fishermen and consumers alike, support for catch shares management continues to gain momentum and is being considered in all coastal regions of the country. The new NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco is demonstrating unprecedented support for studying, implementing, and funding catch shares management. Just yesterday the House of Representatives appropriations committee included a big increase in the budget to make catch shares happen.

With continued support from fishermen and even consumers, this momentum and support for catch shares can lead to a new era for fisheries management that protects our oceans and make eating seafood all the more enjoyable.

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