Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Best practices in US fisheries

How can we make US fisheries work? What does success look like? Do we care most about fish, fishermen, or industry infrastructure?

These questions and more are up for debate at a meeting in Boston this week, where I'll be your representative if you have good ideas. We're set to debate "Best Practices in US Fisheries" thanks to the Lenfest Ocean Program. So let's hear it, what makes some fisheries work and some fail? And how do you define success?

One thing on my mind is overcapacity. When fishing fleets have too much catching power, when they can easily outfish the productivity of fish, then the sh*t hits the fan.

Our typical fishery management lets too many people go after the fish. It's like having a party for a high school football team and serving one pizza and one beer. Don't do much good to set rules like only using tiny forks or no more than 1 sip each. You'd get mayhem--sort of like some US fisheries.

So what shall we do? Any thoughts I should carry to the august group of scientists, managers, and "others" (that's me)?


Unknown said...

I think that your thinking on this issue is right on track. Too many (big) boats going after the resource.

Another thing that I see within our industry, is the exportation of our seafood to other countries. I've heard reports of foreign buyers buying boatloads before they hit the docks in Oregon. We can not continue to feed other coutries on the backs of fish stock sustainablity. With trade agreements, though, I'm not sure how we can get around that.

We try and use local artisan fishermen and women to supply our seafood whenever we can.

Oh, to answer your question. We should care about the fish, above all else.

Mike Vaughn
(please tell me if this is not kosher, newbie)

Anonymous said...

We need to reward sustainable fishermen by givig them more fish to catch not less - as has been happening. Ocean Conservancy bought out trawl permits in Morro bay Ca. last year and tried to lease the fish quota to those fishing by hook or pot only to be told by PFMC it was against the law to transfer quota in this manner. That is a stupid rule that needs to be changed.
Paul Johnson

Up Welng said...

i think it's important that you began your post about sustainable fisheries by asking what it is we care most about: fish, fishermen, or industry infrastructure... the answer to that question is not easy but how you answer tells a lot about your role in the complicated situation...

i sure hope that the discussions you have this week acknowledge that while best practices may be a good starting point, there is no "one size fits all" solution... fishers (like farmers, industrialists, and even tourism providers) often resist attempts to force them to comply with "best management practices" (bmps)designed to reduce impacts by scientists and bureaucrats who live far away... ultimately, these bmps tend not to work in a top down implementation...

Mark Powell said...

Thanks for the comments. I see suggestions for sustainable, small, fisheries with management focused on local needs and rewards for fishermen who do the right thing. Makes sense to me.