The skipper of a fishing boat that has trawled Monterey Harbor for decades says he’s been docked since spring, unable to earn a living.
Jiri Nozicka says a federal quota system enacted to protect both fish and the commercial fishing industry has problems that he can’t navigate.
“How do I plan anything?” he asked, recently standing on the deck of the San Giovanni. “I can’t. It’s impossible.”
He’s not alone in criticizing the “catch shares” system and calling for changes. Commercial fishers, industry experts and government officials are among those who say that while fish populations are recovering, too few people in California are benefiting from that rebound in part because there aren’t enough qualified monitors to oversee the program.
“Financially, I can only say that multiple trips have been cancelled due to a lack of availability of these monitors, millions of pounds of fish have not been caught, processed and sold to markets and this is a loss of millions of dollars,” said Michael Lucas, president of North Coast Fisheries Inc., in a letter to federal regulators.
After Pacific Coast groundfish populations dropped dramatically in 2000 a federal economic disaster was declared, leading to the strict new quota system. The goal was to boost populations of black cod and dover sole and to revive the flagging industry.
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As more Californians consider their total carbon footprint, as a way to reduce human impacts on climate change, more are looking at “food miles”: how far their food travels between the time it is harvested and the time it gets to their plate. The Farm-to-Fork movement not only implies freshness, but that transportation from the farm to the consumer’s plate is a relatively short distance.
Fishing, like farming, can be green and sustainable. And California is leading the way in this effort, but distance is a misleading measure. Fishing green implies that fisheries are harvested at a sustainable level, keeping the fish populations healthy, while providing nutritious foods to millions of Americans and others worldwide. Beyond fishing below set quotas, there are three ways that fishing green can be achieved:
• Reduce the harvest of foods that have high energy costs in their production, capture or transportation
• Reduce harvest of high trophic level species that require a large amount of primary production to replace their numbers
• Support efficiency in the production of fishery resources
In the complete “Fishing Green” report by Richard Parrish, PhD, you will learn more about how California’s wetfish fisheries (coastal pelagic species such as sardine, mackerel and market squid) are among the most sustainable methods of food production. Purse-Seine fisheries for small pelagic fishes and squid in California are the most fuel-efficient of all the fisheries, averaging 6 gallons per metric ton harvested.
Read more in the full report here.