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Recovery in Pacific Groundfish Under Catch Shares

February 20, 2013

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.”

All in all, this gives a great model of how to reform fisheries with rights-based management.  
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave Allison permalink
    February 20, 2013 3:57 pm

    Cool, a report by an agency that pushed for privitizing common property resources says that they were right and everything they promised has come true. Now haow about a report interviewing the fishermen whose livlihood has been eliminated in the consolidation of the fishing and processing industry of the Pacific Coast. And even cooler, the organization that has been recklessly promoting the giveaway of public trust resources, funded by right-wing “free market” foundations, uses the foundation money to make loans that the free market does not believe are justified. So will the “free marketeers” at ED and their funding foundations still be around to bail out the catch share fishermen on the West Coast when the fisheries are failing there or will they, as they are doing on the failing fisheries on the East Coast “catch share fisheries” simply call on the public that has had their fisheries resources stolen from them to make another gift to the “catch share” failures? Sorry Mark, you are very wrong on this one. But you are looking great in the pictures on the beachs where small boat fishermen used to survive.

    • February 20, 2013 4:56 pm

      Thanks, Dave. I don’t see it that way, but us agreeing to disagree is nothing new. I would say that a reduction of fleets is in fact necessary in many fisheries. There are so many fisheries with employment bubbles due to the race to fish. Just because some people lose doesn’t me it is a bad thing to reform the fishery with rights.

      Hope you’re looking just as well on the beaches of the Yucatan!

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