Archive for the Opinion Category

Dec 5 2016

D.B. Pleschner: Extremists manufacture anchovy ‘crisis’ where none exists

By D.B. Pleschner

Guest commentary

When the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reapproved the 2017 annual catch limit for the central stock of anchovy at 25,000 metric tons (mt), environmental extremists immediately cried foul.

Press releases with doomsday headlines claimed that the anchovy catch limit is now higher than the total population of fish in the sea. Environmentalists claim the anchovy resource has “collapsed” and the current catch limit is dangerously high.

But is the anchovy population really decimated, or are these alarmists simply manufacturing another anti-fishing crisis?

Their claims are based on a paper by Alec MacCall, pegging the central anchovy stock at about 18,000 mt. However, the paper analyzed egg and larval data collected over time in California Cooperative Fishery Investigations (CalCOFI) surveys, conducted in the Southern California Bight — and the conclusion is fundamentally flawed. Other scientists now acknowledge that the CalCOFI cruises do not cover the full range of anchovy, missing both Mexico and areas north of the CalCOFI survey track, as well as the nearshore, where a super-abundance of anchovy now reside, say fishermen.

The CalCOFI survey was designed to track sardine, not anchovy. It misses the nearshore biomass where age 0-1 anchovy live and huge schools of anchovy have been observed since 2013. But the MacCall analysis deliberately omitted nearshore egg-larval data. In addition, peak spawning for anchovy is February-March, but CalCOFI surveys run in January and April, as did the MacCall analysis, thus both captured only the tails of spawning.

Clearly, current data are inadequate to develop an accurate anchovy population estimate. At the November 2016 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, scientists, the management team and most council members agreed.

In reality, anchovies are now amazingly abundant from San Diego to Northern California. Scientific data as well as fishermen’s observation bear this out:

• Recent NOAA field surveys documented increased anchovy recruitment and multiple year classes, although data from the 2016 summer survey are still undergoing analysis.

• A 2015 NOAA juvenile rockfish cruise report found evidence of record numbers of anchovy larvae and pelagic juveniles, and saw an abundance of anchovy again in 2016.

And consider reports from fishermen like Neil Guglielmo, who fished anchovy from Half Moon Bay to Monterey in the summer of 2016. He saw thousands of tons of anchovy — school after school running from San Francisco to the Farallon Islands, and down the coast to Monterey and beyond. Similar comments come from many fishermen who fish nearshore waters the length of the California coast.

The big increase in anchovy abundance in nearshore waters in recent years has precipitated a record whale-watching spectacle, recounted in media reports from San Francisco to San Diego. And while doomsday press releases and news stories regurgitate environmentalist claims that the anchovy resource has “collapsed,” Monterey Bay Whale Watch posted a video on Facebook of dozens of sea lions and a humpback whale feasting on thousands of anchovies — only two miles from Monterey Harbor!

The bottom line is that anchovy management employs an extremely precautionary approach, capping the allowed harvest at 25 percent of the average overfishing limit estimated to be harvested sustainably over the long term.

So why are ENGOs lobbying to cut the harvest limit to 7,000 mt, drastically lower than the federal limit, even though the draconian reduction would inflict serious harm to California’s historic fishing industry, especially in Monterey?

Scientists acknowledge that anchovy abundance is highly variable, and that variability occurs even without a fishery. Given multiple lines of evidence of anchovy recruitment, clearly there is no biological crisis, but there could be a serious socioeconomic problem if the small anchovy harvest limit is further restricted.

As the Pacific Fishery Management Council deliberates anchovy management, we hope a credible and thorough scientific assessment process and best available common sense will prevail. Evidence of recent anchovy recruitment must be factored into future management decisions; politics should not drive the outcome.

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable wetfish resources.


Originally published: http://www.montereyherald.com/opinion/

Oct 22 2016

What I like about MPAs — Ray Hilborn

Oct 17 2016

A MPA skeptic speaks out on youtube

Oct 7 2016

Obama’s new ocean preserves are bad for the environment and for people

FILE - President Barack Obama speaks at the Our Ocean, One Future conference at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.

FILE – President Barack Obama speaks at the Our Ocean, One Future conference at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Ray Hilborn

 

Who wants to save the oceans? Short answer: everyone, especially politicians. A less frequently asked question is whether their high-profile efforts always work.

Right now, world leaders seem to want to see who can declare the biggest marine protected areas, or MPAs, in their territory. MPAs are kinds of national parks for sea life that extends from ocean surface to ocean floor. Commercial fishing and other undersea ventures are banned in them.

They are popping up everywhere. In August, President Obama announced one in the western Pacific Ocean that is 50 per cent bigger than Texas. In September he created another, more modest one off the coast of New England.

Britain announced yet another MPA in September around St. Helena Island in the south Pacific. It is half the size of the Lone Star State.

In fact, the MPA movement has become a religion with accepted articles of faith that more and bigger are better.  This current obsession is bad for the oceans, bad for the global environment, and bad for people.

Consider what the imposition of an MPA can do to the economy and livelihood of local fishers, who are unable to easily pick up and move elsewhere. Some fishermen in New England are warning that they could go out of business as a result of the new Atlantic marine preserve.

Large MPAs are also bad for people because reducing ocean fish production by itself will mean less high quality, nutritious food available for the poorest people in the world and less employment for fishing-dependent communities

Political leaders argue they are protecting the oceans with MPAs, but mostly they aren’t. The major threats to ocean health and biodiversity, including global warming, ocean acidification, oil spills, floating masses of plastics, pollutant run-off from land, and illegal fishing–all are not addressed by this conservation measure.

Ocean preserve  advocates emphasize that about one-third of global fish stocks are overfished, and use that as a reason for ever-larger MPA designations.  But there is also no evidence that MPAs actually increase the abundance of fish outside of the reserves, one of the chief motives proponents invoke to push for them.

MPA advocates like to use the analogy of a fish bank, and it works up to a point.  Certainly, fishery abundance rises inside well-managed areas that are closed to commercial fishing.

But without other measures to address  fishing effort, the same commercial boats that used to ply the newly protected waters can simply move across the boundary, increasing fishing pressure outside the MPA, although at increased cost. And fish don’t recognize MPA boundaries. They move beyond them.

In truth, some  MPAs can provide biodiversity benefits and increases in fish harvests in places that lack more comprehensive fisheries management.

Unfortunately those are the same places where MPAs are also often difficult or impossible to enforce, due to the cost of surveillance and of any legal efforts to bring offenders to justice.

A bigger fact is that in U.S. waters, fish stocks are increasing, and overfishing is declining rapidly, without a significant number of MPAs.

Why?  For one thing, we already have a myriad of well-enforced laws that protect fish stock health and marine biodiversity very well, through a science-based management system. They do it better than simply closing off large sections of the ocean.

Around the world we see fish stocks increasing in abundance when fisheries management is effectively applied, without MPAs playing a significant role.  Fish stocks in the U.S., Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia have all been shown to rebuild from overfishing through traditional fisheries management —  we don’t need MPAs to rebuild fish stocks.

In reality, redirecting hundreds of millions of dollars spent on MPA advocacy towards other threats to the ocean, or to improving fisheries management globally, would provide much more comprehensive and proactive protection.

The MPA advocacy movement needs to embrace the reality that closing ever-larger areas of the ocean to fishing, when it happens, should be guided by clearly stated objectives, independent scientific evaluation of alternatives, and public consultation on the impacts on people.

MPAs should be established where the problems are, not where it is politically expedient.  A race to see who has the biggest or the most is running in the wrong direction.

Ray Hilborn is a Professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He leads several research projects on the status of global fish stocks and coordinates the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database, the largest repository of data on the abundance of fish stocks.


Read the original post: http://www.foxnews.com/

Sep 20 2016

Letters: MPA Proposal Off California Is Yet Another End-Around US Commercial Fishery Management

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2016 Seafoodnews.com

Seafood News


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] Opinion by Larry Collins – September 20, 2016


Collins is president of the San Francisco Cab Boat Owners’ Association and vice president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. He also manages the San Francisco Community Fishing Association. Collins’ letter is a response to a proposal by California Representatives Sam Farr and Ted Lieu to establish the California Seamounts and Ridges National Marine Conservation Area Designation and Management Act (HR 5797). The legislation invokes the Antiquities Act to set up an MPA to protect seamounts, ridges and banks in federal waters off the California coastline. This designation is another example of how special interest groups are able to sway federal legislators to protect large swatches of ocean waters at the expense of the commercial fishing industry without sound scientific research. Other commercial fishing groups and their backers have already argued how MPA designations are undermining existing environmental protections already in place under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  

 

Dear Seafood News,

Do you know that you own the fish in the sea? Yes, you do.

We call fish a “public trust resource” for a reason. You, as a member of the public, own those fish in the sea, the water they swim in, and the habitats they call home.

I’m a professional seafood harvester. I offer a service by catching fish and making it accessible to you so you can concentrate on other productive endeavors. As part of my job, I comply with a dense set of rules to ensure the sustainability of the service I provide, and of the seafood at your dinner table.

Sustainability is the concept that Mother Nature can provide for us indefinitely, so long as we steward her carefully. In fishermen’s case, stewardship means leaving enough fish in the ocean so I can get them another day, and doing my best to minimize impacts on habitat.

It’s the role of the state and federal governments to make sure I achieve those goals. And together we do a great job of making sure your fisheries are sustainable. Overfishing is virtually non-existent on the West Coast, and the types of gear we’re allowed to use are already tightly regulated to protect habitat features.

So it’s confounding that non-fishermen who would claim to promote the sustainability of your oceans are actually working to shut your fisheries down.

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Central Coast, recently introduced HR 5797, a bill that would permanently end several forms of fishing at seven ocean ridges and seamounts off the California coast. The justification for the closures is protection of creatures and habitat features on the seafloor.

As a commercial fisherman, I support protecting the environment from human threats that will hurt our shared marine resources. Oil exploration and mineral mining could cause irreparable damage at these sites.

But fishing threats to these seafloor resources are almost nonexistent.

The fishing community uses hooks and nets to harvest your albacore tuna, swordfish and sea bass at these sites. None of those gears come remotely near the ocean floor.

Moreover, bottom trawling, which does involve seafloor contact, is already prohibited at the seamounts.

Congressman Farr’s bill would use the Antiquities Act to permanently end harvesting of your fish at the seamounts. It’s an end-run around the normal fisheries management process, which has been successfully carried out by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for 40 years.

The normal course requires rigorous scientific analysis and public input, procedures that only improve the management fish and how fishermen go about retrieving them.

HR 5797 backers must want to avoid scientists and stakeholders when it comes to taking your fish away from you.
You should know that it’s already hard to bring home your seafood these days. Drought and water politics are decimating your iconic California King salmon. An algal bloom this past year forced the unprecedented closure of your crab fishery.

But while fishermen are going out of business and infrastructure is disappearing, I’ll be the first to tell you that proactively protecting your ocean is the only way to ensure your access to the best, most sustainable seafood in the world.

Our oceans can provide us an unending supply of healthful, sustainable food if we carefully articulate the “what” “how” and “why” we manage these resources.

HR 5797 is not a careful articulation. It’s a robbery by blunt force trauma of fish, family dinners, backyard barbecues and memories that belong to you.

Congressman Farr needs to leave fisheries management to the fisheries managers. It’s the only way to sustain your fish and your ocean into the future.

Larry Collins


Subscribe to SeafoodNews.com 1-732-240-5330  |  Copyright © 2016 Seafoodnews.com

 

Sep 19 2016

Commentary: Leave fishery management to the pros

managementVincent Pham, who owns the Five Star fishing boat, lowers a crab pot to Rudy Ziess, right, at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor . Photo: Kevin Johnson, Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

Do you know that you own the fish in the sea? Yes, you do.

We call fish a “public trust resource” for a reason. You, as a member of the public, own those fish in the sea, the water they swim in, and the habitats they call home.

I’m a professional seafood harvester. I offer a service by catching fish and making it accessible to you so you can concentrate on other productive endeavors. As part of my job, I comply with a dense set of rules to ensure the sustainability of the service I provide, and of the seafood at your dinner table.

Sustainability is the concept that Mother Nature can provide for us indefinitely, so long as we steward her carefully. In fishermen’s case, stewardship means leaving enough fish in the ocean so I can get them another day, and doing my best to minimize impacts on habitat.

It’s the role of the state and federal governments to make sure I achieve those goals. And together we do a great job of making sure your fisheries are sustainable. Overfishing is virtually non-existent on the West Coast, and the types of gear we’re allowed to use are already tightly regulated to protect habitat features.

So it’s confounding that non-fishermen who would claim to promote the sustainability of your oceans are actually working to shut your fisheries down.

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Central Coast, recently introduced HR 5797, a bill that would permanently end several forms of fishing at seven ocean ridges and seamounts off the California coast. The justification for the closures is protection of creatures and habitat features on the seafloor.

As a commercial fisherman, I support protecting the environment from human threats that will hurt our shared marine resources. Oil exploration and mineral mining could cause irreparable damage at these sites.

But fishing threats to these seafloor resources are almost nonexistent.

The fishing community uses hooks and nets to harvest your albacore tuna, swordfish and sea bass at these sites. None of those gears come remotely near the ocean floor.

Moreover, bottom trawling, which does involve seafloor contact, is already prohibited at the seamounts.

Congressman Farr’s bill would use the Antiquities Act to permanently end harvesting of your fish at the seamounts. It’s an end-run around the normal fisheries management process, which has been successfully carried out by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for 40 years.

The normal course requires rigorous scientific analysis and public input, procedures that only improve the management fish and how fishermen go about retrieving them.

HR 5797 backers must want to avoid scientists and stakeholders when it comes to taking your fish away from you.

You should know that it’s already hard to bring home your seafood these days. Drought and water politics are decimating your iconic California King salmon. An algal bloom this past year forced the unprecedented closure of your crab fishery.

But while fishermen are going out of business and infrastructure is disappearing, I’ll be the first to tell you that proactively protecting your ocean is the only way to ensure your access to the best, most sustainable seafood in the world.

Our oceans can provide us an unending supply of healthful, sustainable food if we carefully articulate the “what” “how” and “why” we manage these resources.

HR 5797 is not a careful articulation. It’s a robbery by blunt force trauma of fish, family dinners, backyard barbecues and memories that belong to you.

Congressman Farr needs to leave fisheries management to the fisheries managers. It’s the only way to sustain your fish and your ocean into the future.

Larry Collins is president of the San Francisco Cab Boat Owners’ Association and vice president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. He also manages the San Francisco Community Fishing Association.


Read the original post: http://www.eastbaytimes.com/

Aug 29 2016

Letters: Why Does President Obama Want to Eliminate Sustainable Commercial Fisheries?

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Letters] August 29, 2016

 

Dear Seafood News Editor,

“Help us identify Champions who are helping the ongoing recovery of America’s fishing industry and fishing communities,” Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Council of Environmental Quality Director Christy Goldfuss posted on the White House Blog on August 10.   They were appealing for nominees for this year’s White House Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood.”

The blogpost had many complimentary things to say about our U.S. commercial fisheries:

“America’s fishers, and our seafood industry, have fed Americans and their families since our nation’s beginning. What’s more, this industry remains critical to the economic health and well-being of communities across the country.

“After decades of decline, we are witnessing the economic and ecological recovery of America’s fishing industry.  Overfishing has hit an all-time low, and many stocks are returning to sustainable levels. The U.S. fishing industry contributed nearly $200 billion annually to the American economy in 2014 and supports 1.7 million jobs.

“This shift did not come easy.  It took hard work, collaboration, and sacrifice by many across the country. Although there’s still more to do, America’s fisherman have led the way to the United States becoming a global leader in sustainable seafood management.

“This turnaround is a story about innovative ways to catch fish and other seafood sustainably, and connect fishers with their customers. It is a story about the value of science and management working together, and a willingness to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. And it is a story about sustaining a proud livelihood that is the backbone of so many coastal communities nationwide.

“President Obama and his Administration want to honor America’s fishers and our coastal communities for their efforts.”

We agree with everything Secretary Pritzker and Director Golfuss said.

Yet on Friday, August 26, President Obama announced he was expanding the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. The fact sheet stated:  “Building on the United States’ global leadership in marine conservation, today’s designation will more than quadruple the size of the existing marine monument, permanently protecting pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources in the waters of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.”

But President Obama’s executive order, authorized under the Antiquities Act, also prohibited commercial fishing in an area increased by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area of the expanded monument to 582,578 square miles.   This unilateral action happened without the transparency, science-based decision-making and robust public process trumpeted in the President’s own National Ocean Policy, nor the bipartisan Congressionally mandated Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which requires fisheries to be managed under a transparent, science-based process administered by regional fishery management councils.

The announcement precipitated extreme disappointment from commercial fishermen and Council members alike, who decried the lack of science and economic pain inflicted on sustainable fisheries and fishing communities. “Closing 60 percent of Hawaii’s waters to commercial fishing, when science is telling us that it will not lead to more productive local fisheries, makes no sense,” said Edwin Ebiusi Jr., chair of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.  “Today is a sad day in the history of Hawaii’s fisheries and a negative blow to our local food security.”

“It serves a political legacy rather than any conservation benefits …” said Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds.  “The campaign to expand the monument was organized by a multibillion dollar, agenda-driven environmental organization…  The President obviously chose not to balance the interests of Hawaii’s community, which has been divided on this issue,” she added.  Fisheries are the state’s top food producer, according the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

“Our party’s over,” wrote Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, but the monument lobbying effort continues on the east coast and off California, where well-heeled environmental advocates are lobbying to close productive sea mounts in New England, as well as most of the offshore seamounts, banks and ridges off the California coast, all of which are critically important to the long-term sustainability of commercial fisheries in those regions.

On both the east and west coast, fishermen, allied seafood companies and business interests as well as the regional fishery management councils have mounted vigorous opposition to the use of unilateral executive order under the Antiquities Act to manage fisheries.   They point to existing National Ocean Policy promises and the Magnuson Act, which require science-based decision-making and robust stakeholder involvement.  A transparent process that includes scientific and economic analysis and public involvement already exists through the MSA and fishery management councils.    Why not use it?

This Administration’s disrespect for Congressional mandate and its own ocean policies begs the question:  Why does this President want to curtail sustainable fisheries?

D.B. Pleschner
Executive Director
California Wetfish Producers Association


Michael Ramsingh
SeafoodNews.com 1-732-240-5330
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter’s Email: michaelramsingh@seafood.com

Copyright © 2016 Seafoodnews.com

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable Wetfish resources. More info at www.californiawetfish.org

Aug 15 2016

Proposal would devastate California’s fishing industry

Crab Fishery ToxinCrab pots wait to be loaded onto fishing boats last November at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Ben Margot Associated Press file

By D.B. Pleschner
Special to The Bee

 

California’s fisheries provide healthy, sustainable food, but that could change under a dangerous new proposal being circulated, until recently, behind closed doors at the Legislature.

California’s fishing community – more than 40 harbors, chambers of commerce, seafood processors and recreational and commercial fishing groups – has united to oppose the proposal to declare virtually all offshore seamounts, ridges and banks off the coast as monuments under the Antiquities Act and permanently close these areas to commercial fishing.

After pursuing rumors, fisheries groups discovered the proposal, along with a sign-on letter encouraging legislative support. But no one bothered to seek any input from recreational and commercial fishermen. Even worse, there has been no scientific review or economic analysis, no public participation and no transparency.

The areas identified in the proposal are indeed special places, rich in marine life and valuable corals, sponges and structures. The seamounts and banks are also very important for fisheries.

Tuna, swordfish, rockfish, spiny lobster, sea urchins, white sea bass and species including mackerels, bonito and market squid are all sustainably fished in Southern and Central California. And in Northern California, albacore tuna and other species provide opportunities to fishermen who, for the past few seasons, have been unable to rely on Chinook salmon and Dungeness crab.

These areas do deserve protection. But policies for protecting resources in federal waters exist under the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other bipartisan laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, which require science-based, peer-reviewed analysis conducted in a fully public and transparent process.

Indeed, most of the areas identified in the proposal are already protected under federal law through the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s designation of essential habitat. These designations were made with full scientific input and extensive public participation.

Fishing – commercial or recreational – does not pose any threat to these areas. In fact, California has the most strictly regulated fisheries in the world.

The proposal misrepresents the possible impacts of fishing and seriously underestimates the harsh economic impact if these areas were closed to commercial fishing.

The backers of this proposal want the president to take unilateral action using the Antiquities Act to declare these productive areas as monuments – a permanent, irreversible executive order that would prohibit commercial fishing forever.

In essence, that’s fishery management by fiat. This proposal was developed with no outreach to fishery scientists and managers, and only after fishermen discovered the plot did proponents come out of the closet.

The proposal goes against the bipartisan legacy of the nation’s fishery management laws and policies, whose hallmark is transparency and which have a long track record of working successfully to protect marine resources.

We believe legislative leaders should oppose it, as should President Barack Obama. In short, the Antiquities Act is not the place to manage fisheries.


Read the original post: http://www.sacbee.com/

Aug 7 2016

Sandy Smith: Marine monument plan threatens local fishing industry

vcstar

A new proposal being circulated among lawmakers hopes to convince President Obama to use his executive power to designate seamounts — underwater mountains — as marine monuments off the coast of California.

On the surface, that may sound like a good idea, but a deeper review of the proposal reveals that it threatens to curtail commercial fisheries as well — and that’s not good for Ventura County.

Commercial fishing operations based at the Port of Hueneme, Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard and the Ventura Harbor serve as foundations of our local economy. Our local fishermen and fish processors rely on these extremely productive fishing grounds, including seamounts, to produce millions of pounds of seafood every year, including tuna, mackerel and market squid.

Closure of these areas to fishing would inflict serious harm to the industry and our communities.

As an example of the impacts to Ventura County, the current squid-landing operation at the Port of Hueneme alone supports nearly 1,400 direct and indirect jobs in the local community, and about $11 million in state and local tax revenues annually.

It also provides $56 million of revenue for local businesses dependent upon existing squid operations.

Not only would the proposal cause serious economic harm, but is it really even necessary?

California already has the most strictly regulated fisheries in the world.

Precautionary policies for protecting resources in federal waters exist under the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as well as under many other bipartisan laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.

All of these laws require science-based analysis that is conducted in a fully public and transparent process.

But that’s not what’s happening here. The document “The Case for Protecting California’s Seamounts, Ridges and Banks” was drafted and advanced with no science, no analysis and virtually no public engagement or outreach to the parties who would be most affected by this unilateral action.

That’s why the Ventura County Economic Development Association has joined more than 40 groups representing California’s harbors, communities and fisheries — both recreational and commercial — to oppose the proposed designation of marine monuments off our coast that prohibit commercial fishing.

Such a designation ignores existing law — the Magnuson Act — that is mandated to manage fisheries and whose transparent, science-based process is heralded worldwide for its success. It also contradicts the Obama administration’s own National Ocean Policy Plan, which promises transparency and “robust” stakeholder involvement.

We must not close to fishing a patchwork of areas without scientific analysis or economic assessment. And we must use the best available science to manage fisheries. Otherwise, it’s fishery management by fiat.

Sandy Smith is a former Ventura mayor and City Council member and current chairman of the Ventura County Economic Development Association, which gives members education and policy guidance on issues affecting the economic climate of the greater business community.


Originally posted: http://www.vcstar.com/

Jun 29 2016

A Conversation with Carl Walters

CarlWalters

Carl Walters is a Professor Emeritus at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. His area of expertise includes fisheries assessment and sustainable management, and he has several years of experience advising public agencies and industrial groups on fisheries assessment and management. He has been a member of a number of NSERC grant committees since 1970, and received the AIFRB Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in 2011.

Misuse of the precautionary approach in fisheries management

We spoke with Carl Walters of the University of British Columbia about the misuse of the precautionary approach by risk-averse scientists and conservation advocates. His concern arises from the application of the precautionary approach to Western Canadian salmon fisheries, which he believes has negatively impacted Canadian salmon fishermen and resulted in “virtually, an economic collapse.”

He began by first differentiating between the precautionary principle and the precautionary approach, the former he claimed to be “a perfectly sensible statement that I think almost everyone would subscribe to about the need to avoid irreversible harm when possible…in the management of any system. There’s a different creature that has arisen in fisheries policy…called the precautionary approach to management” – this is the one that upsets him (00:35).

According to Carl, there are two problems with the precautionary approach (PA). First, it was concocted intuitively by highly risk-averse biologists and managers. “Those people are not the ones who bear the costs of having such a policy. It’s really easy for a highly risk-averse manager to recommend a very conservative policy because it’s not his income and economic future that’s at stake” (03:18). In fact, fishermen are seldom consulted about what harvest control rule they would prefer. Fishermen are often perceived to be relentless natural resource extractors that demand to keep fishing until it can be proven that the stock is collapsing. “That’s not the way fishermen behave” Carl says. “It turns out that most fishermen are risk-averse. They’re not pillagers, they’re not gamblers willing to take any risk at all in order to just keep fishing. They are concerned about the future and they are generally willing to follow some kind of risk-averse harvesting policy” (04:40). “Fishing is a risky business, and fishermen in general are far less risk averse than the people who end up in government and academic jobs.  But that does not mean fishermen are willing to take high risks with the productive future of the stocks that support them.”

So if both fishermen and managers are risk-averse, what’s the problem? The issue is that the interests of only one of these stakeholders is truly accounted for when designing precautionary harvest policies. In Canadian fisheries, there has been “a deliberate exclusion of fishermen in the development of these critical harvest control rules. They have no say in it. The decision rule should be based, at least to some degree, on patterns of risk-aversion that fishermen have since it’s the fishermen who bear the burden of the regulation” (09:48).

Carl recommends that we do away with the precautionary approach, and instead focus on developing and implementing ‘utility maximizing policies’ (10:35), which includes identifying harvest control rules that maximize expected utility for a risk-averse community of fishermen (17:20). Carl believes the extreme rules proposed by biologists are not the answer. “In fact, the optimal harvest control rules actually involve continuing to fish down to stock sizes that would terrify many biologists. When you shut things down you’re putting people out of business and for many of them that’s an irreversible loss of their livelihood” (06:30).

There are balanced policies that deal more sensibly with risk-aversion, represent the interests of fishermen rather than the interests of really risk-averse biologists, and are ecologically just as sustainable as more extreme policies. “Ultimately, fisheries management is about the fishermen – it’s not about a government agency staff feeling comfortable, it’s about trying to maintain the livelihoods of fishermen” (18:07).


Read the original post: http://cfooduw.org/carl-walters/