Selected tag(s): Fishery Council

Fishery Managers Look to the Future

By Dovilė Meliauskaitė

A tool found in corporate boardrooms may soon help future-proof our fisheries.

Climate change presents new challenges to the ocean and the fishermen and fishing communities that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems. In many areas, fishermen are already seeing changes in range and abundance of a variety of species, often well outside of normal fluctuations. And scientists are grappling  with making sense of increased ocean acidification, declining dissolved oxygen levels, warmer water and how those changes are affecting productivity, availability and endangered species interactions. New approaches are urgently needed to prepare for climate change impacts on fishing communities and fishery management, including along the U.S. West Coast. Read More »

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New Gulf Grouper Catch Share Already Proving Good for Fish & Businesses

grouperOn Jan. 1, 18 Gulf of Mexico commercially-caught grouper and tilefish species were added to the region’s individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, a type of catch share. This newly expanded program is a big conservation victory. Now, 19 valuable Gulf fisheries are being managed under a tool proven to rebuild struggling fish stocks.

This move is good for small and large fishing businesses. A year-round fishing season is just one of many benefits.  See National Fisherman’s article on how the new IFQ program is already making a difference.

Unfortunately, grouper fishermen in the Southeast aren’t faring as well under traditional management. They’re in the middle of a four month fishing closure. This isn’t just hard on fishermen, it’s hard on local restaurants and other businesses too. Southeast fishery managers should consider catch shares to eliminate these devastating season closures and bring fish populations back to health quickly.

Finally, we want to congratulate the fishermen, Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and others who worked so hard to add grouper and tilefish to the Gulf’s IFQ. We are excited to see the progress that these fisheries will make in the coming year.

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A Turning Point for New England Groundfish Fishery: Jane Lubchenco sends a clear message

Julie Wormser, New England Regional Director for the Environmental Defense Fund oceans program, writes about her attendance and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco’s presence at the New England Fishery Management Council meeting on April 8th.

April 8, 2009, Mystic, CT —Sally McGee, Emilie Litsinger and I got to witness something pretty wonderful today.  Jane Lubchenco came to the New England Fishery Management Council meeting to announce the immediate release of $16 million to the groundfish fishery to help move the fishery to “sector” catch share management by providing funding for cooperative research to help fishermen get through a tough fishing year with very strict limits on fishing effort. 

This came on the heels of Monday’s announcement of a final Interim Rule for groundfish that was a significant improvement both over the draft rule and a threatened legislative alternative introduced by some members of the New England congressional delegation. 

The meeting started at 8:30 am, with the room unusually full for that early hour.  The previous days had been crackling with speculation around the region about the reason for her visit. After brief introductions, Dr. Lubchenco thanked everyone for allowing her the time to speak to them. She described the main components of the new fishing rules and then said that she came to the council meeting with two clear messages. 

First, that NOAA would commit $16 million this year toward a new future for New England’s fisheries (in this case, groundfish, but also more broadly).  Second, she put the room on notice—Council members, agency staff, industry and other stakeholders—that we all needed to step up and move away from crisis management toward a lasting solution—catch shares.

“We need a rapid transition to sectors and catch shares,” she explained.  “Catch shares are a powerful tool to getting to sustainable fisheries and profitability.  I challenge you to deliver on this in Amendment 16, to include measures to end overfishing.  I will commit the resources to my staff to do their part to ensure Amendment 16 is passed in June.

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