Recovery in Pacific Groundfish Under Catch Shares
There’s a nice AP story up at the Sacramento Bee on the recovery of the Pacific Groundfish Fishery under catch shares. Also nice, it explores how discards have been greatly cut:
“Now, every single pound of fish – no matter what it is – is accounted for,” Bettencourt said. “There’s no hiding anything.”
Under catch shares, government figures show unintentional catches of some species have been reduced by 80 percent or more in both 2011 and 2012.
“We were seeing discard rate (overall) of around 15 percent in some parts of the fishery where now we see figures like discard rate of around 1 or 2 percent,” NOAA spokesman Brian Gorman said.
It also explores how subsidized financing is a great way to help smaller players adapt to the new management regime.
But there are more optimistic signs that enterprising small fishermen can make it work. After the disaster declaration of 2000, banks no longer were interested in giving money to fishermen.
“I knew the banks were less likely to make me a loan,” said groundfish fisherman Steve Fitz of Half Moon Bay.
Instead, Fitz stayed afloat with help from a new loan program by the Environmental Defense Fund for anglers who use eco-friendly practices.
The environmental group hopes its financial program will bolster catch shares – which the group has advocated – and help the fleet upgrade to less damaging fishing techniques. So far, the program has issued 14 loans for nearly $1.7 million.
“It’s not just about using different fishing gear,” said Phoebe Higgins, director of the program, called the California Fishing Fund. “It’s about helping fishermen succeed in a new management program that leads to long-term sustainability and real profitability.”