Archive for the Breaking News Category

Jul 22 2021

Oceana sues NMFS over California sardine management


Alleging that U.S. West Coast fisheries managers are repeating mistakes of the past half-century, the environmental group Oceana is suing NMFS over its approval of the latest sardine management plan and demanding more action to rebuild the stock.

“Despite these hard lessons, NMFS repeats these management failures in Amendment 18,” states the group’s complaint, filed by the legal group Earthjustice on 14 July in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, naming U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, NOAA, and the fisheries agency.

Oceana claims NMFS should not have approved the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s amendment to the coastal pelagic species management plan, allowing managers to “chose a suite of already disproven, status-quo management measures that will keep this population at levels too low to support either the ecosystem or the primary fishery that relies on sardine for half a century or more.”

“Basically, we’re dealing with a rebuilding plan that’s not designed to rebuild,” said Geoff Shester, senior scientist and California campaign director for Oceana.

Environmental activists, managers, and fishermen have long been at odds over the U.S. sardine fishery, foundation of the historic California cannery industry that collapsed in the 1950s and stayed closed until 1974. Sardines were found in 2019 to be overfished, but fishing advocates say offshore surveys are missing large amounts of fish.

Managers now recognize that the sardine stock size is primarily driven by environmental factors, and that there is inadequacy of surveys used in assessments, according to Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

“Oceana just refuses to acknowledge the reality,” Pleschner-Steele said. “We’ve been arguing for years that the surveys don’t capture the [accurate number] of fish.”

The accusation of “status quo is misrepresenting management,” Pleschner-Steele said. The council and NMFS need flexibility to improve surveys and assessments, monitor environmental factors, and consider the fishing community needs with “the only reasonable rebuilding plan,” she said.

“It’s a balancing act between the biology of the fish and the well-being of the fishing community,” she said.

Managers have been using models based on northern and southern sardine stocks and linking most of the allowable biological catch to the northern stock, said Pleschner-Steele. But she said newer analysis has shown virtually all catches come from the southern stock, which also fuels a robust live-bait fishery supplying the recreational sector.

Shester said the fishery may account for 50 percent or more of the catch and needs a closer look, too. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, fisheries managers trying to guide a recovery gave wide allowances to the bait fishery, and “that was recognized as a big mistake,” he said.

There’s no question that sardine levels are driven by environmental conditions, but “the question is what does fishing do on top of that?” Shester said. “When the [sardines] move into these low levels, that’s not sustainable.”

Efforts to build cooperative surveys were sidetracked in 2020 with COVID-19, but work is underway again with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on acoustic trawl and aerial surveys, said Pleschner-Steele. Work so far this year has found large numbers of fish, she said.

“I’m hoping we’ll be coming to an update of the stock assessment by the end of the year,” she said, that could get the fishery “out of overfished jail.”


Original post: https://www.seafoodsource.com/

Reporting by Kirk Moore

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Jun 1 2021

Ray Hilborn: MPAs aren’t the answer to ocean biodiversity, sustainability efforts

A global movement to create additional marine protected areas (MPAs) has been steadily gaining traction in recent years, with the initiative picking up milestone victories in the past few months.

In January, newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order committing to a “30 by 30” goal, whereby the United States would designated 30 percent of its land and territorial waters to conservation by the year 2030. The move heightened the potential that MPAs will be used as a tool to tackle climate change.

A recent study supports the hypothesis that MPAs could be beneficial for climate change, maintaining biodiversity, and boosting the yield of fisheries. According to the study, strongly protecting at least 30 percent of the ocean – primarily in the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal nations – would result in substantial environmental and commercial benefits.

But University of Washington Professor of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Ray Hilborn told SeafoodSource that the study – and the concept of MPAs – are both flawed. The study, he said, made some assumptions and contains inconsistencies that effectively invalidate the conclusions it reached.

“It’s a classic example of where the peer-review process totally failed to identify inconsistencies, bizarre assumptions, and improper conclusions,” Hilborn said.

The study, he said, made different assumptions on different types of fishing effort.

“It happens that each of the assumptions they made about fishing effort is the one that makes MPAs look better,” he said.

A key example, Hilborn said, is how the study approaches trawling. The study made biodiversity calculations based on fishing effort shifting in geography as MPAs are put in place – which itself poses problems, he said. However, the study assumed that an MPA ban on trawling wouldn’t result in increased fishing effort in other areas.

“When it comes to the impact of trawling and the impacts on biodiversity, they assume when you close an area, the effort disappears,” Hilborn said.

The study found a ban on trawling in designated MPAs would have a carbon benefit – but that is true only if that trawling effort doesn’t move holds, Hilborn said.

“If you move the effort, the carbon benefit disappears,” Hilborn said.

Hilborn said the study also assumes an “instantaneous connection” between different species around the world – when in reality, species in separate oceans aren’t going to interact. And the analysis wasn’t actually global, as South Asia and Southeast Asia were not accounted for in the study.

“This isn’t a global analysis, because they don’t have trawl effort in Southeast Asia,” Hilborn said.

Protecting biodiversity is a key issue that needs to be tackled, and the core motivation behind MPAs and Biden’s 30 by 30 plan are sound, Hilborn said.

“[The] 30 by 30 [movement] is not ambitious enough,” Hilborn said. “We need to protect the biodiversity of 100 percent of our [exclusive economic zone].”

Protecting biodiversity in the oceans is not best accomplished via MPAs, especially in light of climate change, Hilborn said. In fact, while advocates have touted MPAs as a means to fight climate change, in reality, they do little to help, he said.

“They want to see 30 percent of the oceans permanently closed,” Hilborn said. “That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. With climate change, things are shifting.”

Hilborn used the interactions between fisheries and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale as an example of how a proposed MPA might not work as intended. In recent years, the species has been the center of an ongoing push for increased protections, and recently NOAA outlined new regulations to protect the species.

Climate change has forced the 400 or so remaining North Atlantic right whales to chase food sources that are now located in parts of the ocean with more fishing effort, primarily in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. That movement highlights how MPAs would struggle to protect species in the ocean, Hilborn said.

“If you had closed areas to protect northern right whales 20 years ago, they’d be in all the wrong areas,” he said.

Protected areas on land, he added, make sense because of the nature of human interaction with the land.

“The reason you want parks on land is that human use is transformative. If you put a city on it, or you farm it, it’s gone,” Hilborn said. “In the ocean, fishing doesn’t really change the structure of the ecosystem. We don’t kill the plants which is what farming does, we don’t harvest the second trophic level, we just harvest the top of the food chain.”

Plus, many of the actual threats to the ocean aren’t coming from the ocean itself, or from fishing.

“If you look at what the threats to the oceans are, they’re ocean acidification, climate change, invasive species, various kinds of pollution, land runoff, and none of those are impacted by MPAs,” Hilborn said.

A great example is the large dead zone that forms in the Gulf of Mexico every year.  The dead zone is created by excess nutrient pollution from agricultural areas – mainly related to fertilizers washed into the gulf through the Mississippi River and other inland waterways. NOAA makes annual predictions for how large the dead zone will be, based on things like rainfall. An MPA in the area to protect that environment, Hilborn pointed out, would have no effect on the biodiversity of the ocean in the region.

“You could make it an MPA and ban everything, you could ban shipping, you could ban mining, you could ban fishing, and you’d have no effect on the dead zone,” he said.

Protecting biodiversity is possible, but MPAs are the wrong tool for the job, Hilborn said.

“You don’t need no-take in order to protect the biodiversity. Again, high profile things, marine birds, marine mammals, turtles, sharks, those are things where there’s very specific – gear specific – things that impact them,” he said. “Closed areas aren’t going to help, because they’re all so mobile.”

The solution for those species, he said, is simple.

“Take sharks or turtles – all you have to do is stop killing them,” he said.

Current fisheries management agencies already serve as a tool for protecting biodiversity, and Hilborn said additional effort can be made using those existing agencies.

“What I would like to see is very explicit targets in what are we trying to achieve in biodiversity, and for each one of those targets, what’s the best tool to achieve it,” Hilborn said. “In almost every case, you’re going to be modifying fishing gear, and how fishing takes place, rather than closing areas to all fishing gears.”

MPAs, he said, are essentially just regulating a few activities in an area, without addressing wider issues.

“Fundamentally, all MPAs are doing is regulating fishing, and maybe oil exploration and mining,” he said. “It’s just the wrong tool. The illusion that you’re protecting the ocean by putting in MPAs, it’s a big lie.”


Original post: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news

May 27 2021

Biden Administration Sees Victory in CA Offshore Wind; Fishermen See Deception

Windmill park green energy during sunset in the ocean, offshore wind mill turbines Netherlands

Photo Credit: fokkebok/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

The White House announcement Tuesday of fast-tracking large areas in California to offshore wind brought with it the sharp-edged blade of betrayal to fishermen trying to work with federal agencies to retain their livelihoods.

In Washington, D.C., far away from the areas being discussed, the White House convened National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl for the announcement of the first commercial scale offshore wind energy areas off the Pacific Coast. The Biden administration hailed it as a significant milestone to achieving the goal of creating good-paying, union jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, the administration said in a press release. These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes, according to the White House.

Specifically, the Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, identified an area (“the Morro Bay 399 Area”) that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles northwest of Morro Bay, the White House said. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area, located off northern California.

The White House said the Department of Defense played a critical role in identifying the areas because it engages in testing, training and operations essential to national security off the California coast. The DoD objected to some of proposed areas in the past but was working with the state and Interior in the past.

“Tacking the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort,” Under Secretary for Defense Policy Dr. Colin Kahl said in the press release. “… Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked tirelessly with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the state of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while ensuring long-term protection for testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness.”

But the announcement shocked the seafood industry. The area is larger than expected and effectively negates good-faith efforts to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and state agencies. The seafood industry has tried to elevate the importance tof fishing and processing and the need to identify important harvesting and natural resource areas prior to establishing an area for wind turbines.

“The fishing industry has been told these areas work best for offshore wind developers, but no one has asked us what areas would work best for us,” Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations Executive Director Mike Conroy said. “There has been no effort to engage with or partner with fishermen, no planning process to evaluate fisheries data and spatial needs to inform this development, nor is there a clear process for how to do that through permitting now that we have missed the opportunity to plan effectively. The areas announced today are large areas; and with additional Call Areas likely to be identified off California and Oregon later this year, a comprehensive, upfront, cumulative effects analysis should be required.”

The administration’s move mirrors those by BOEM on the East Coast with the recent approval of the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project. The pattern of excluding the seafood industry is not new. Fishermen and processors on the West Coast have seen similar BOEM patterns.

Another case in point: BOEM announced this week it would hold a California Renewable Energy Intergovernmental Task Force meeting on June 24 and sent a notice to the seafood industry to join. The public is invited to “listen and attend on June 24, 2021, to discuss both central and northern California offshore wind planning areas considered for future leasing and next steps in the BOEM leasing process moving forward,” the notice said.

However, that’s also the first day of the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

“It is inexcusable that BOEM, who has claimed to engage closely with the Council, would schedule a Task Force meeting during the Council’s meeting,” the PCFFA said. “The fishing community will now have to choose between attending the Council meeting and participating in discussions fostering our sustainable fisheries or attending a meeting where they will be told that dire consequences are possible for the fisheries the Council manages.”

Morro Bay fishermen were particularly angry.

“We’re totally against this,” Tom Hafer, president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, was quoted as saying in a New York Times story. “We’ve been consulting with the Castle Wind people for a long time, and we helped pick the spot and developed a memorandum of understanding on an area that we thought would be sustainable for us. That was about 120 square miles. This is 399 square miles. We’re going to lose a whole bunch of fishing grounds. There will be cables in the water. We don’t know how the whales will react. There are a lot of unknowns. People don’t realize how massive this project will be.”

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance noted the seafood industry’s efforts.

“The California and broader Pacific fishing communities have raised multiple direct requests and concerns to BOEM, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and others that merit prompt attention,” RODA said in a press release.

These include:

  • Expanded fisheries representation on BOEM Intergovernmental Task Forces;
  • Greater opportunities for public input;
  • Additional resources for fisheries-related research and environmental review;
  • Performance of full environmental analyses at the onset of project siting;
  • Enhanced interstate coordination;
  • Implementation of an inclusive marine spatial planning process prior to lease decisions;
  • Advancement of science processes and products that include fishermen’s traditional knowledge; and
  • Decisions based on appropriate time series and data sets with sufficient timelines to gather such data, which is largely unavailable at present.

The Pacific Council will likely discuss meaningful engagement with BOEM again at its June Council meeting.

Susan Chambers
SeafoodNews.com
1-541-297-2875
susanchambers@urnerbarry.com


Posted with permission from SeafoodNews

Feb 26 2021

Pacific Sardine Landings May Shift North as Ocean Warms, New Projections Show

Pacific sardines are a small but sometimes numerous fish closely intertwined with California’s fishing history. A new study linking climate change and the northern sardine stock fishery shows that they may shift north along the West Coast as the ocean warms.

A climate-driven northward shift by sardines could cause a decline in landings of the northern sardine stock by 20 to 50 percent in the next 60 years. These changes would affect historic California fishing ports such as San Pedro and Moss Landing, according to the new research published in Fisheries Oceanography. The study did not examine whether southern sardine stock would also shift northward, potentially offsetting this decline in landings. In turn, landings at northern port cities such as Astoria, Oregon, and Westport, Washington, are projected to benefit.

Researchers examined three possible “climate futures.” The warmest had the most pessimistic outcomes, with total sardine landings in all West Coast states declining 20 percent by 2080.

Understanding climate-driven shifts in habitat helps predict impacts on landings

The study translates environmental shifts into possible impacts on fishing communities and coastal economies. Sardines have historically gone through “boom and bust” changes in their population. Their numbers off the West Coast have remained low in recent years, with the West Coast sardine fishery closed since 2015. This research does not project changes in the abundance of sardines. Instead, it shows that climate-driven shifts in their habitat may have a significant impact on landings at historically important ports.

“As the marine environment changes, so too will the distribution of marine species,” said James Smith, a research scientist with the University of Santa Cruz affiliated with NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “But linking future changes in the distribution of species with impacts on the fishing fleet has been challenging. Hopefully our study can provide information about potential impacts in coming decades, and thereby inform strategies to mitigate these impacts.”

Maps illustrate projections of how sardine habitat off the West Coast will shift as climate change warms the ocean. Blue shading illustrates where habitat will improve for sardines over coming decades, while red shows where habitat will grow worse. Credit: Fisheries Oceanography.

Looking to the Past to Predict the Future

The estimated shifts illustrate how climate change may alter the traditional fishing economies of the West Coast, as once depicted in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.” The 1945 novel featured historic canneries in Monterey, once supplied by sardine catches delivered to nearby Moss Landing. Sardines helped make Monterey one of the busiest fishing ports in the world until their collapse in the 1950s. Sardines are well known to undergo boom and bust cycles. Their numbers, and landings with them, increased again in the 1990s, but have declined more recently. The new research does not attempt to project changes in sardine numbers, but uses recent numbers as a baseline. It demonstrates how average landings by port may change due to future shifts in sardine habitat.

“We can’t predict how many sardines there will be in 50 to 60 years,” says James Smith, “but we have a much better idea where they will be. And their northward shift [of the northern sardine stock] promises to have a significant impact on the fishery, regardless of how many sardine there are.”

The study aligns with earlier research indicating that many marine species, including sardines, will follow their preferred temperatures north as climate change warms the Pacific Ocean. The new research estimates the northward shift in sardine, and its potential impact on the fishing fleet. These findings emerged from newly developed and very fine-scale projections by climate and ocean models of changes in ocean conditions along the West Coast.

There are three stocks of sardine: northern, southern and Gulf of California. The research examined the northern stock, which can range from southeast Alaska to the northern portion of the Baja Peninsula, not the Gulf of California stock or the southern stock typically found mostly in Mexican waters off the west coast of Baja California but sometimes ranging into Southern California. Researchers noted that a northward shift by the southern stock may help offset the projected declines in landings at southern ports.

 

The potential impact of a shifting Pacific sardine distribution on U.S. West Coast landings.

 


Original post: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/pacific-sardine-landings-may-shift-north-ocean-warms-new-projections-show

Dec 16 2020

Recent Events Offer Promise for Protection of Sustainable Domestic Fishing

Interior Dept., BOEM, and Congressional Actions Pave Way to Protect Coastal Economies


December 15, 2020– The following was released by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance:

Three significant positive developments affecting fisheries and offshore wind have occurred since Friday. The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) has worked on these issues to ensure the safety and continued viability of our U.S. domestic fisheries, our coastal communities, and seafood consumers in light of offshore wind energy development. These wins were not achieved through high-powered lobbying or well-financed campaigns, but rather by expressing a clear and consistent message based in science and fact, making reasonable requests, and working diligently with elected and appointed officials in the Administration, both parties in Congress, career agency officials, and a multitude of state and private sector entities.

It is reassuring to see reason and logic prevail in government decisions. In addition to the many officials who contributed to these outcomes, we are immensely thankful for the efforts made by our own members, by others in the fishing industry and its advocates, and by those conscientious members of the offshore wind industry.

The Jones Act
What happened: On Friday, the Senate passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that included a version of the “Garamendi Amendment,” which clarifies that all federal laws–including the Jones Act–apply to “all installations and other devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed, which may be erected thereon for the purpose of exploring for, developing, or producing resources, including non-mineral energy resources.” President Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA bill, but it is considered to have a veto-proof majority in Congress.

What It Means: A frequently cited benefit of the development of offshore wind energy has been domestic job creation. But the fact is that developers have planned to survey and construct early projects using vessels, equipment, and crew from abroad, with a longer term goal of building out a U.S. supply chain. RODA has submitted comment letters and raised attention to the Jones Act’s application to the offshore wind industry to date, which differed from all other ocean activities. This new statutory language means that many of those contracts and project plans will need to be revised to use U.S. vessels and crew from the start, consistent with all other U.S. industries. Currently, there are no Jones Act qualified vessels that can transport or install offshore wind turbines. Getting the investments required to build them may be challenging, and getting installation vessels in the water will take time. However, ensuring that any economic benefits generated by offshore wind energy accrue to our manufacturers and local communities is the right thing to do.

BOEM Vineyard Wind decision
What happened: The Department of Interior has announced that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the Vineyard Wind project is no longer necessary, and the process is terminated effective immediately. In plain English, this means the federal permitting process for the Vineyard Wind project is canceled. This news will become “official” in the Federal Register on December 16th.

What it means: On December 3, just a week before a final Environmental Impact Statement of its project was to be published in the Federal Register, Vineyard Wind announced that it had “decided to temporarily withdraw its Construction and Operations Plan (COP) from further review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).”  BOEM responded by effectively stating that there is no “pause” option in the regulations, and accordingly “there is no longer a proposal for a major federal action awaiting technical and environmental review, nor is there a decision pending before BOEM,” and the process is “terminated.” RODA and local fishing interests repeatedly requested that Vineyard Wind, neighboring wind leaseholders, the states, BOEM, and USCG modify project designs to lessen impacts to the fishing industry. This led to a re-orientation of planned turbine rows in the dominant fishing direction, but other critical issues such as the addition of transit lanes for the safety of ocean-going fishing vessels were ignored. Now, Vineyard Wind will need to re-apply for its project, but the new timeline may not match supply contracts or the power purchase agreement with Massachusetts.

Department of the Interior internal legal memorandum
What happened: The Department of the Interior (DOI) issued an internal legal memorandum interpreting its statutory mandate to prevent offshore wind energy’s interference with fishing. Previous DOI guidance on the statutory language, which requires “prevention of interference with reasonable uses [including fishing] of the exclusive economic zone, the high seas, and the territorial seas,” indicated that offshore renewable energy projects could not interfere with the legal right to fish. This new memo explicitly changes that guidance, saying “[n]owhere does the statute indicate that the Secretary is only to prevent interference with the legal right to navigate or fish in an area. It is the Secretary’s job to provide for the prevention of interference with those uses.” In short, it states: (1) That the Secretary must ensure that offshore wind energy projects do not unreasonably interfere with fishing operations; (2) That fishermen’s perspectives are part of what determine whether interference is unreasonable; (3) That such interference is considered on a cumulative instead of project-specific level; and (4) If in question it must err on the side of less interference rather than more.

What It Means: This fundamentally shifts the balance of interests toward fishing, a critical provider of food security and low-carbon footprint protein, over offshore wind energy. Under previous guidance the presumption was that wind energy development should take precedence, and proceed in accordance with what developers determined to be optimal, and fishing interests would need to adjust. While a future Administration could revoke or refine the memorandum, it presents a solid legal argument for challenging any such action.

What does the future hold?
These three recent events create a better opportunity for a future in which the interests of all reasonable users of the seas can coexist.

When the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act becomes law, and projects must comply with the Jones Act, this will create a delay in the timeline for construction. It is crucial that the incoming Administration and interested states use that time to invest in science and research to understand—and ultimately minimize—environmental and economic impacts.

  • We need to start collecting robust baseline data immediately in all places where offshore wind projects may be considered in the future.
  • We need to retool our fisheries and protected resource monitoring protocols so important ecological data that forms the basis of fisheries management is not disrupted.
  • We need to understand the environmental impacts that have occurred from rapid large-scale development of offshore wind in places like Europe, which the European Parliament is currently reviewing and finding are largely unknown and possibly much greater than anticipated.
  • We need to understand the variations between the ocean and atmospheric environments of the European installations, and significantly different environments of U.S. federal waters, which are unique and contain some of the most productive and ecologically complex benthic environments in the world.
  • We need to much better understand the economic interactions between the two industries so we can preserve and promote traditional, historic, and sustainable fishing, while also identifying any possible economic opportunities that may arise for fishing communities from offshore wind energy production when it arrives in the future.
  • We need to continue to improve offshore wind energy and other renewable technology, including turbine and cable recycling methods, so that we can thoughtfully and quickly reduce carbon emissions while avoiding serious adverse environmental consequences associated with the large land use and materials needs of current technology.
  • We need to prioritize development of regional transmission systems to minimize the amount of structure that is ultimately placed in the water and on or under the seabed.
  • We need to build better relationships between fishermen, offshore wind energy developers, states, and federal managers so that information is effectively communicated and innovative solutions can be identified.
  • We need to develop decommissioning plans for when offshore wind leases are over that properly mitigate long-term environmental impacts and restore impacted habitats so we don’t create permanent steel graveyards in the ocean.

Most importantly, now that we’ve witnessed a project’s plans collapse due to failure to minimize fisheries impacts, we must work together to improve our planning process — as we in the fishing industry have been requesting for over a decade. Fishermen must be at the table and play a meaningful role in project siting and design. Ways to minimize and mitigate impacts must be identified up front and fully incorporated into all project plans. Although a handful of states and developers have made strong efforts to operate this way, it has never been done effectively on the correct spatial scale. In fact, we need to create new public, transparent, and inclusive regional processes that fully incorporate fisheries science and operational knowledge.

The need for a new planning process has been recognized by fishing interests and by offshore wind energy advocates. This was most recently clearly stated in a December 11th interview by Jeffrey Grybowski, the former CEO of Deepwater Wind, which was acquired by Ørsted in 2019.

“Obviously there are fishing groups in the Northeast that have raised really significant concerns. Those concerns can be addressed, but I also acknowledge they were real concerns. I don’t think anyone is suggesting their concerns should’ve been dismissed and projects just should have been approved.”

Mr. Grybowski went on to note that the problems with Vineyard Wind were not due to political bias.

“…some have said Vineyard Wind’s permit delays are due to some kind of anti-renewable bias within the administration. I disagree with the idea that — I think that view diminishes the nuance and complexity of what we’re all doing. New lease areas are complicated. There are stakeholders out there in favor of new lease areas. And so to simply blame everything on a political viewpoint understates the nuance and complexity of what we’re trying to do.”

The need for change has now been made clear by officials on both sides of the political aisle. Speaking at his annual climate change conference, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) stated

“Right from the very get-go, even before the filing … it should be a requirement of the filing to bring a statement of what work you’ve done with the fishing community, what their concerns have been. … Developers shouldn’t just get to go out there, cut a private deal with their funders, their investors, and then put their stamp down in the public ocean as if they owned it.”

These recent developments will significantly shift the discourse around offshore wind and fisheries to make sure fishermen’s needs and knowledge are afforded greater priority. Taken together, they offer a significant opportunity to fix the broken offshore wind energy planning process. Regardless of political or industry affiliation, we must now work together to properly balance uses of the ocean commons and maintain sustainable fishing practices.

Nov 19 2020

No-take MPAs “do nothing to mitigate” problems facing U.S. oceans, Dr. Ray Hilborn tells Congress


 

November 18, 2020 (Saving Seafood) — WASHINGTON — Yesterday, at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, respected fisheries scientist Dr. Ray Hilborn criticized the marine protected area (MPA) provision of the bill, which he called “the wrong tool for adapting to climate change.”

The provision, known as the “30 by 30” plan, would require the establishment of MPAs in at least 30 percent of American waters by 2030. In his testimony, Dr. Hilborn, professor of sustainable fisheries at the University of Washington, cited numerous threats facing U.S. oceans, including climate change, ocean acidification, exotic species, land-based runoff, plastics and illegal fishing.

“There are solutions to each of these problems,” Dr. Hilborn said. “But it is not no-take MPAs – they do nothing to mitigate these problems.”

Dr. Hilborn praised current fisheries management under the regional council process, which he called science-based and credible with industry and other stakeholders. He also pointed out that MPAs would simply push fishing pressure outside of the protected area into other parts of the ocean, with no net gain.

“MPA advocates ignore the fact that ‘30 by 30’ would cause 70 percent of U.S. oceans to see increased fishing pressure from the vessels that moved out of the 30 percent closed, and thus potentially be less resilient to climate change. Do we really want to make 70 percent of our oceans less resilient to climate change?” Dr. Hilborn said.

The hearing kicked off with Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) introducing a letter organized in part by Saving Seafood and signed by over 800 seafood industry members opposing the “30 by 30” plan. Rep. Bishop added that “30 by 30” is “woefully misguided, does not improve fisheries, it undermines the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and even worse, it’s detrimental to Americans, especially American fishermen.”

Read Dr. Hilborn’s written testimony here

Watch the full hearing here


Original post: Saving Seafood savingseafood.org

Nov 17 2020

Sustainable fisheries are facing a moratorium

Sustainable fisheries are facing a moratorium
© Getty Images

 

American wild-caught seafood is integral to the nation’s food supply and to American food security. We’ve been working hard to keep it that way in the face of climate change. The people who catch fish for a living experience climate impacts directly. We recognized it early and we’ve responded. In fact, U.S. fishermen have been part of the solution to habitat conservation and climate responses for decades.

Nonetheless, some politicians and environmental organizations have embraced a version of an initiative called 30×30 (“thirty by thirty”) that would damage our nation’s sustainable fisheries and robust fisheries management process. Broadly, 30×30 aims to conserve 30 percent of habitat worldwide by the end of the decade — 2030. The 30×30 approach has been embraced by President-elect Biden’s campaign, and there’s talk he will sign an executive order on his first day in office.

We’re eager to engage with the new administration to address climate impacts and protect habitat. Proactive and durable ocean policy changes need to happen with us, not to us.

Our organizations have advocated for strong ocean conservation for decades, and we’ve built a fisheries management system that will continue to provide enduring protections to ocean habitat while insisting fishermen participate. The results are striking: we’ve established deep-sea habitat protection areas covering over 45 percent of U.S. waters off the West Coast. In 1998 we prohibited trawling off the entire coast of Southeast Alaska. Recently, the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions enacted major deep-sea coral protections that prohibit the use of impactful gear in sensitive areas.

Our work to conserve sensitive ocean spaces has helped make American fisheries the most sustainable in the world. Despite these accomplishments, the most connected and well-financed proponents of 30×30 are seeking to implement no-take marine protected areas in U.S. oceans without serious input from fishing stakeholders. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and his colleagues recently introduced H.R.8632, the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, which would require “protection” of at least 30 percent of the U.S. ocean by 2030 by banning “all commercial extractive use.”

It’s important to note that the “non-commercial” exemption in the bill was added late and appears to be sanctioned by recreational fishing groups and environmental organizations. This move would be puzzling if not for the politics. In much of the U.S. ocean, commercial and recreational fishermen use similar gear types, and in many fisheries recreational harvest accounts for half, or sometimes more, of catch. But overcoming the objections of the sportfishing lobby is a tall order, and this is a fight 30×30 proponents chose not to pick, biological justification notwithstanding.

Whether you are a sport or commercial fisherman or a seafood consumer, policies that circumvent our fishery management system set a bad precedent and needlessly remove public access to healthy and natural seafood resources. They also contravene biological science, which supports fisheries management’s optimized approach to conservation and social science, which shows us that conservation is enhanced when stakeholders are provided equitable opportunities to participate.

We don’t need an unjustified moratorium on U.S. commercial fisheries in nearly a third of the ocean in order to achieve climate resilience and biodiversity protection. In fact, a ban on all commercial fisheries in 30 percent of U.S. waters would be a giant step backwards for biodiversity and climate change. U.S. fisheries increasingly support local food systems and shorten food supply chains — a climate positive.

It remains possible to fashion a U.S. 30×30 policy that is compatible with our fishery management institutions. Doing so would be relatively simple, but it would require acknowledging the gains fishermen and fisheries management processes have already achieved, while providing an equitable stakeholder role.

Are the proponents ready to engage? If they are, a 30×30 policy could be developed with goals that are directly compatible with biodiversity and fisheries management, while ensuring that serious discussions about climate change do not exclude coastal communities. If they aren’t, Americans will lose another piece of their maritime heritage, they’ll lose access to sustainably sourced seafood and coastal communities will be swept aside in a misdirected effort to address climate change.

Abandoning fishing communities when addressing the climate crisis is a disservice to our world-leading fisheries management system and to the people who risk their lives to feed the nation. But there’s still time for meaningful discussion with fisheries stakeholders. If Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are serious about supporting working people, they must engage with working fishermen and women immediately, before executive orders issue or legislation passes.

Ocean-based climate solutions cannot be achieved without including the people who work there.

Linda Behnken is a commercial fisherman and executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, an association of small-scale fishermen based in Sitka, Alaska. Mike Conroy is an attorney and executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, based in San Francisco.


Original post: https://thehill.com/

Nov 10 2020

MPA Update: Fishing communities discuss protected areas impacts

Fishing boats at the Bodega Bay harbor. (Image credit Frank Schulenburg)

“We’re getting hit from all sides,” says a fisherman from Crescent City during a virtual focus group discussion. “If it isn’t the environment, it’s management.”

Over the last decade, California established an extensive network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along the coast. In hopes of providing respites where ecosystems can grow undisturbed, these MPAs set limits on activities such as fishing around the state. Researchers are now assessing how the restrictions impact marine life as well as fishing communities in seven large-scale monitoring projects funded by the California Ocean Protection Council in partnership with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Sea Grant.

For one team, this monitoring focuses on humans rather than fish. The project includes virtual focus groups with commercial and charter fishermen. Researchers want to know how the MPAs affect the economic and social aspects of life for fishing communities up and down the coast.

“In MPAs, what you’re managing are people — not fish or what’s on the floor of the ocean,” says Jon Bonkoski, knowledge systems program director with Ecotrust and a co-director of the team leading the human dimensions project. Bonkoski works alongside three other organizers and a larger team to gather, analyze and communicate information about the health and wellbeing of fishing communities and ports around the state.

Cheryl Chen, another co-director who works primarily on data analysis, says the project has two modes: first, pioneering a way to monitor how MPAs impact fishing communities in the long-term, and second, using existing historical data to understand research priorities and determine the most useful data to collect in the future.

So far, the team has compiled information such as catch records, number of fishers and revenue dating back to 1992 in an interactive data explorer on the project’s website.

Chen works with Bonkoski to analyze landings  data about where commercial fishing vessels operate, but she says without fine-scale digital logbooks the current data is limited. “Fish and Wildlife collects spatial fishing data, but it’s a 10 by 10 nautical mile resolution, which is too large,” she says. “A lot of these MPAs are much smaller than that.”

MPA monitoring project directors on a video call with fishermen from Bodega Bay, California in the first of many virtual focus groups.

 

From figures to fishers

The team points out that catch numbers and fishing location data, while useful for statistical analyses, become more meaningful and powerful when put into the context of human stories. In order to hear voices from commercial and CPFV fisheries, Laurie Richmond, an associate professor at Humboldt State University, and her grad student, Samantha Cook, designed a series of questions and discussion points for focus groups within 24 fishing communities.

“We have around 15 questions asking fishermen to rank things about the health and well-being of their ports in relation to MPAs on a scale of one to five,” she says. “Then we ask them to rank them again after the conversation, because their views may have shifted based on the conversations they have with their peers.”

The discussions center around the sustainability, infrastructure, community and management of the ports and MPAs. The group hoped to conduct conversations in person but switched to video calls because of COVID-19.

“I was worried the technology would feel really clunky,” says Richmond. “But it’s worked really well.” She credits Kelly Sayce, another project co-director and co-founder of Strategic Earth Consulting, and colleagues Jocelyn Enevoldsen and Rachelle Fisher with getting communities involved.

“The Strategic Earth team has worked with fishermen in ports up and down the state for over a decade and built a lot of trust,” she says. “It seems that this trust has played a huge role in enabling vulnerable discussions, and I get the sense that fishermen feel that their perspectives are honored by the project team.”

The team also offers interviewees monetary compensation. “We’re not asking them to just donate their time while we’re getting paid for the project,” Richmond says. The researchers post results of focus group meetings along with key quotes and summaries for specific ports on the project website.

https://mpahumanuses.com/data-viewer.html

The data visualizer includes maps and summaries for ports as well as different types of fisheries.

Reimagining management

The monitoring project’s leaders expect a wide range of responses to the wellbeing surveys. They say it’s still too early to see how MPAs affect fishing communities across the state, but one common theme has already emerged: the need for greater transparency in management. Fishing communities are typically the most impacted by the implementation of MPAs, but they consistently feel left out of the planning, monitoring and research processes.

“For the most part, fishermen are very interested in what is happening within MPAs, and there is an expressed need for clear communications on what the key findings are and how MPAs impact respective fisheries in the short and long term,” says Kelly Sayce. “Fishermen do not feel they are included in that whole conversation, and that can perpetuate a lack of trust for how resources are managed.”

The idea has persisted since the first focus group in Crescent City, where one fisherman said, “[managers] need to do a much better job of making especially fishermen, but entire communities, aware of what they’re doing.” The project team hopes that highlighting the voices of fishing communities and the challenges they face will lead to more integrative leadership at the state level.

“Ten years from now, we don’t want to come back to them and have the same conversation,” says Bonkoski. “We’re collecting this information to organize and do something proactive.”

Laurie Richmond agrees. “Fisheries management, especially at the state scale, uses lots of ecological data to guide decision-making,” she says. “It would be exciting to see this information about wellbeing guide decision-making too.”

The team believes this adaptive management is possible if fishing communities are given a seat at the table. “How amazing might it look to have fishermen together with academic scientists, managers, Tribal leaders and conservation organizations talking in a more equitable way about how resources are managed,” muses Sayce. “If ever there was a time to reimagine what engagement looks like, I just have to believe it’s now.”

Written by Erin Malsbury, California Sea Grant/UC Santa Cruz Science Writing Intern 2020


Original post: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/mpa-update-fishing-communities-discuss-protected-areas-impacts

 

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Our headquarters is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; we are one of 33 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

Sep 18 2020

Pacific Fishery Management Council Approves Pacific Sardine Rebuilding Plan

BUELLTON, CA / ACCESSWIRE / September 17, 2020 /

Thousands of fishermen, processors and allied fishing businesses along the west coast thank the Pacific Fishery Management Council for taking final action on a rebuilding plan for the “northern” stock of Pacific sardine that achieves the balance between conservation and fishing communities mandated by the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

This action was required by the MSA after the “northern” sardine stock was declared “overfished” in 2019, when the biomass estimate fell below 50,000 mt. The Council decision came after many months of hard work by stock assessment scientists, modelers, the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Management Team and the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC), to build and analyze a Rebuilder model based on the 2020 “northern” sardine stock assessment, which covered a period of low recruitment. The herculean effort attempted to forecast future sardine population growth and rebuilding time scenarios under various harvest alternatives.

“The Council’s unanimous decision to support the Management Team’s recommendations shows that they understand reality, the big picture,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, representing California fishermen and processors. “Our sardine harvest policy already has a built-in rebuilding plan. The Council closed the main directed fishery in 2015, and sharply reduced incidental harvest rates last year. Further cuts would drive many fishing businesses out of business, and we appreciate the Council’s acknowledgement of that prospect.”

The environmental group Oceana immediately issued a press release decrying the Council action, accusing fishery managers of irresponsible mismanagement. Oceana and other environmental activists based their arguments on the Rebuilder model that scientists, the Management Team and the Council all acknowledged did not reflect reality because it could not model the environmental cycles driving sardine productivity, nor could it predict the future. Further, it assumed that the total harvest allowance was caught every year.

Oceana’s accusation, “fishery managers have failed to learn from the mistakes of history,” does not pass the straight face test when all the facts are presented. During the great sardine decline in the late 1940s, the historic sardine fishery harvested 50 percent or more of the standing stock. Today’s sardine fishery harvest amounts to only 0.6 percent of the northern sardine population — very close to 0 US harvest, which was modeled as Alternative 2, and showed disastrous economic impacts to fishing communities in California and the West Coast because it curtailed major fisheries. Commercial fisheries that take sardines incidentally include market squid, anchovy and mackerel in California and Pacific whiting, pink shrimp and groundfish along the entire West Coast. In addition, the live bait fishery relies on sardines and serves a billion-dollar recreational fishing enterprise.

The Council decision illuminates a dicey problem: sardine fishery management policy assumes that two sardine stocks exist along the west coast and Mexico, divided by a temperature barrier at about 62 degrees F. But the Council manages only the “northern” stock, and in recent years, stock assessments have subtracted thousands of tons of sardines found in waters warmer than 62 degrees on the assumption that those were “southern” sardines that migrated up from Mexico. Stock assessments also are now based on annual NOAA summer acoustic trawl (AT) surveys that begin in the Pacific Northwest and move south, not reaching California waters until late August, when water temperatures are typically above 62 degrees. Thus, most California sardines are now omitted from “northern” stock assessments on the assumption they are “southern” sardines. Also, NOAA research ships are too large to survey near shore, where most fishing occurs in California. For the past few years, fishermen have testified to a growing abundance of sardines on their fishing grounds yearlong. But complicating matters even further, for management purposes, all sardines landed are subtracted from the “northern” sardine harvest allowance, regardless of sea temperature. This catch-22 sets the backstory for the Council’s final decision.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the Council meeting was conducted via webinar, and parade of fishermen, seafood processors and community representatives testified to the hardship they are already experiencing under current restrictions. They all voiced unanimous support for Alternative 1, “status quo” fishing regulations. The Management Team also recommended Alternative 1 as the most balanced and flexible choice. Environmental groups testified as well, and all supported Alternative 3, a static five percent harvest rate hard-wired for close to 20 years, based on Rebuilder model analysis, that would have cut current harvest levels nearly in half, precipitating harsh economic impacts.

In their deliberations, Council members highlighted the flexibility of the “status quo” sardine Harvest Control Rule (HCR) that sets harvest limits based on current environmental conditions. They concurred with scientists and the Management Team that the Rebuilder model does not reflect reality; it can’t model the natural high and low productivity cycles of sardines. Council members recognized that the HCR’s precautionary harvest limits are designed to provide forage for predators. Respecting both the need for conservation and the needs of fishing communities, Washington Councilmember Phil Anderson commented that he would rather provide a little more harvest now to keep fishing communities viable. Otherwise they might not survive into the future. Council chair Marc Gorelnik summarized discussion with his comment, “Mother Nature bats last.”

Scientists and Council members alike recognize that environmental conditions are key to stock rebuilding, as they have been for eons even without fishing. The Management Team pointed out that actual fishery catches in the past five years, since the main directed fishery was closed, have averaged only about 2,300 metric tons, far short of the allowed annual catch target, and most of the catch is “southern” stock sardines. The Council also recognized that the current HCR equates to a built-in rebuilding plan because it has flexibility to reduce catches in relation to the biomass, and also includes automatic actions to further restrict fishing in low abundance years. The Council has already reduced the fishery as far as feasibly possible. Now Mother Nature needs to do the rest.

All things considered, the Council made the proper rebuilding plan decision, following the MSA mandates to specify a time period for rebuilding that is as short as possible, taking into account the biology of the stock and needs of fishing communities. The MSA does allow directed fishing to continue when rebuilding an overfished stock, and does not require instant recovery or the most drastic action be taken. Optimum Yield is a long-term goal. The MSA also allows flexibility in developing a rebuilding plan. The plan will be updated when new information is available – nothing is cast in stone.

In light of evidence of recruitment and the abundance of sardines that California fishermen have been reporting inshore of AT surveys, fishery representatives are asking for a review of the rebuilding plan in 2021 as soon as possible after the next coastwide sardine survey, which was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions, and will for the first time in 2021 include a survey of nearshore waters, in a collaborative effort using fishing industry vessels. The fishing industry is dedicated to help improve the science underpinning stock assessments. “If stock assessments were accurate,” said Corbin Hanson, a highline fisherman who has fished sardines as well as other CPS for more than a decade, “sardines would not be declared ‘overfished.'”

PRESS CONTACT:

Diane Pleschner-Steele
diane@californiawetfish.org
(805) 693-5430

SOURCE: California Wetfish Producers Association

ReleaseID: 606630

 

Permalink | Categories Breaking News, Legislation, View from the Ocean on September 18, 2020 by DaveGogel | No Comments
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Jul 3 2020

Top 10 for ’20 | National Fisherman

The fishing industry responded to the presidential roundtable with gratitude for the spotlight and a push for help with other issues. Here’s our Top 10 as compiled from feedback around the country.

 

Pandemic Assistance

As of mid-June, fishermen had not seen funds filter down from the CARES Act through Commerce to their state agencies and their businesses. Though the act was passed in March, with guidelines for disbursement issued by Commerce in May, NMFS predicted a mid-July date for approval of state funding plans, which would predate any payments. Controversial allocations trough the Paycheck Protection Program and low caps on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans also hampered relief to the industry, which is primarily comprised of small business owners, independent operators and contract workers.

Wind Power

“Offshore wind development has been fast-tracked at the peril of commercial fishermen,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has established a task force to facilitate and plan offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine. Although this will directly impact the livelihoods of commercial fishermen, they are not represented on the task force.”Fishermen can only make their living from the ocean, and the proposed development of floating turbines will result in the closure of fishing areas. In addition, the impacts of offshore wind development on ocean ecology and commercial fishing are poorly understood. Fishermen must be fairly represented in this fragmented process. Data must be improved to understand how these future developments will impact commercial fishing as well as the marine ecosystem.”

Deepwater Wind foundations at the Block Island wind farm site off Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind photo.Deepwater Wind foundations at the Block Island wind farm site off Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind photo.

Habitat Protection

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was nearing completion of its environmental review for the proposed Pebble Mine at the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay as we went to press on this issue in mid-June. At the same time, Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen, seafood processors, and residents were preparing for the return of a forecasted 49 million sockeye salmon. A final permitting decision is expected to drop as soon as 30 days after the review, around the peak of the fishing season, when Bristol Bay’s fishermen and residents will be occupied with fishing and preoccupied by an added layer of covid-19 prevention practices.“It is unconscionable that, despite overwhelming comments and outcry requesting an extension and revision to the Pebble Mine permitting process, the Army Corps has continued to rush its environmental review and aims to release a final permitting decision while Bristol Bay grapples with the challenges of harvesting, processing and supplying half the world’s wild sockeye salmon during a global pandemic,” said Katherine Carscallen, Bristol Bay resident and executive director for Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay. “We look to Alaska’s senators for their leadership and implore the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Pebble’s permit. The EPA’s own science and comment letters to the Army Corps show that this project poses an unacceptable risk to our country’s greatest remaining wild salmon runs.”

Marketing

“If the U.S. government is going to support and fund a large, planned increase in domestic aquaculture production, there must be some sort of specific support for domestic wild seafood products that will come under increased competition from this new and expanded domestic aquaculture production,” said Bruce Schactler, a commercial fisherman, industry advocate and NF Highliner, based in Kodiak, Alaska, referring to the president’s executive order in May that promotes the production of offshore aquaculture.“The Farm Bill,” Schactler added, “provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the exclusive use of the U.S. Agriculture industry to subsidize technology, marketing, infrastructure, research, education, training, price supports of various kinds, and generous support for the young farmers and ranchers that will carry on this critical industry. The U.S. seafood industry has no such support program, although it is not for lack of trying.”

Offloading salmon in Petersburg, Alaska. Jessica Hathaway photo.
Offloading salmon in Petersburg, Alaska. Jessica Hathaway photo.

Trade Aid

Though the promise of a Seafood Trade Task Force and the implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program offer some promise of relief for U.S. fisheries and dealers competing with cheap foreign imports in our own markets and looking for new opportunities overseas, the need for federal assistance with global trade restrictions through specific agreements is still paramount for many U.S. fisheries.“Tariffs do not come and go overnight,” said Annie Tselikis, executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association. “Many of us in the industry have been advocating for fair access to foreign markets for a long time. In order for tariffs to be reduced or eliminated, there is a process of negotiation and diplomacy, and each negotiating partner needs to be a willing and fair participant in that process.”

Marine Mammals

New England fishermen aren’t the only ones worried about whales and working to improve gear, fishing methods and management to avoid them. The West Coast Dungeness fleet has worked with other stakeholders for several years in a gear working group.But on the flipside, the Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes permanent protocol for species, like sea lions, that have rebounded to the point of creating a nuisance and preying excessively on critical species, like Pacific salmon.“Marine mammal stocks (California sea lions, in particular) should lose protections when their populations reach a certain level, whether that is carrying capacity or the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s Optimal Sustainable Population,” said Mike Conroy, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “They throw off ecosystem balance and are in direct competition with other ESA-listed species (Southern Resident killer whales, for example) for limited amounts of food.”

The Louisiana shrimp boat Miss Nan. Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Louisiana shrimp boat Miss Nan. Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Recovery Response

This includes everything from disaster funds to increased flexibility, which would provide means for the industry to manage disaster recovery. Most fishermen will tell you: They don’t want handouts, they just want to work. Federal aid can be helpful, but it takes so long to reach the fleets that many businesses go bust waiting for relief.The state of Mississippi, for example, was awarded $11 million for a 2011 disaster declaration, but fishermen have seen very little of those funds so far.“It was probably about 2015-16 before we started seeing money from that disaster declaration. And they’re still spending that money, almost 10 years later,” said Ryan Bradley, executive director of Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United and a 2018 NF Highliner. “Oystermen and crab fishermen and seafood dealers have received about 15 percent” of that $11 million, so far.

Better Data

“Whether that means more funding for science center activities or closer coordination with fishermen or just listening to what they are reporting,” said Conroy. “Fishermen have knowledge, are on the water far more often than the science folks, observe changes related to ocean conditions and fish populations, assist in understanding fish movement by collaborating with different organizations (e.g., tagging programs).“One example out here is the stock assessments for Pacific sardine. They are based on surveys taken on large NOAA ships which can’t access the nearshore waters (typically those less than 25 fathoms). Coincidentally, that is prime habitat for sardine. So the stock assessments keep showing a decline in sardine biomass, while fishermen are reporting (with documentation) increasing numbers of sardine in the nearshore. Because the fishermen’s observations are anecdotal, they carry no weight.”

Homarus americanus. Doug Stewart photo.Homarus americanus. Doug Stewart photo.

Infrastructure and Access

“Feeding fish to the community requires a new commitment and approach to the food supply chain,” said Pete Halmay, commercial fisherman and president of the San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group. “Without improved infrastructure and better access to resources, the promise of fresh, sustainable , local fish cannot be fulfilled.”“This includes dredging, NOAA weather buoys that actually work, shoreside off-loading equipment and product storage, dockside land space for gear storage and/or office space, etc.,” said Conroy. “Ensure protections can be put in place to protect the future access to private unloading stations.”All of these (and more) add up to the culminating priority for the industry.

Recognition of the Value of U.S. Commercial Fisheries


Original post: https://www.nationalfisherman.com/