Archive for the Opinion Category

Jun 13 2017

RAY HILBORN: WORLD FISH STOCKS STABLE


 

June 12, 2017 — Speaking at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit on Wednesday, 7 June in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., University of Washington fisheries researcher Ray Hilborn said the perception that the world’s fish stocks are declining is incorrect, and that fishing could sustainably be stepped up in areas with good management.

Hilborn pointed to figures from the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database that indicate that fish stocks dipped through the last part of the 20th century, but have since recovered in many fisheries.

“There is a very broad perception that fish stocks around the world are declining. Many news coverages in the media will always begin with ‘fish stocks in the world are declining.’ And this simply isn’t true. They are increasing in many places and in fact, globally, the best assessments are that fish stocks are actually stable and probably increasing on average now,” Hilborn said.

The RAM Legacy Database collects information on all the stocks in the world that have been scientifically assessed, which is a little more than half of the world’s catch.

“What we don’t really know about is the big fisheries in Asia, in the sense that we don’t have scientific assessments of the trends in abundance,” Hilborn said.

He added that the general consensus is that the status of those stocks is poor, a result of, among other things, poor fisheries management, reinforcing surveys that have shown a direct correlation between high stock abundance and high intensity of management.

“For most of the developed world fisheries’ management is quite intense, and South and Southeast Asia stand out as really not having much in the way of fisheries’ management systems, particularly any form a enforcement of regulations, if regulations exists,” he said.

But in much of the developed world, Hilborn said fish stocks are robust, even when they sometimes get labeled as overfished.

“Overfished is a definition with respect to potential yield, and a stock that is overfished is not necessarily a stock that is going extinct or a stock that has in any sense collapsed. It simply means you’re getting less yield from that stock than you could get if was well-managed,” Hilborn added.

Hilborn generally recommends lower fishing pressure that does not try to maximize sustainable yield, with a potential of up to 20 percent loss on yield. But he added that even this level of fishing will lead to overfished stocks.

“If you really want to have no overfished stocks, you’re going to have to reduce fishing pressure so far that we would probably lose half of the global food production,” Hilborn said.


Originally posted at Seafood Source

Apr 11 2017

D.B. Pleschner: Study: No correlation between forage fish, predator populations

On April 9-10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Sacramento to deliberate on anchovy management and decide on 2017 harvest limits for sardine, two prominent west coast forage fish.

Extreme environmental groups like Oceana and Pew have plastered social media with allegations that the anchovy population has crashed, sardines are being overfished and fisheries should be curtailed, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Beyond multiple lines of recent evidence that both sardines and anchovy populations are increasing in the ocean, a new study published this week in the journal Fisheries Research finds that the abundance of these and other forage fish species is driven primarily by environmental cycles with little impact from fishing, and well-managed fisheries have a negligible impact on predators — such as larger fish, sea lions and seabirds.

This finding flies directly in the face of previous assumptions prominent in a 2012 study commissioned by the Lenfest Ocean Program, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, heirs of Sun Oil Company. The Lenfest study concluded that forage fish are twice as valuable when left in the water to be eaten by predators and recommended slashing forage fishery catch rates by 50 to 80 percent.

However, in the new study, a team of seven internationally respected fisheries scientists, led by Prof. Ray Hilborn, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, discovered no correlation between predator populations and forage fish abundance. The new research also found multiple omissions in the methodology of the Lenfest study. For instance, it — and other previous studies — used ecosystem models that ignored the natural variability of forage fish, which often fluctuate greatly in abundance from year-to-year.

Ironically, the Lenfest findings were largely based on a model called EcoSim, developed by Dr. Carl J. Walters, one of the seven co-authors of the new paper. Dr. Walters found that the EcoSim models used in earlier studies had omitted important factors, including natural variability, recruitment limitations and efficient foraging of predators.

The Lenfest study also failed to account for the fact that predators typically eat smaller sized forage fish that are not targeted by fishermen. In light of these omissions, the Hilborn et al study concluded that Lenfest recommendations were overly broad and should not be considered for fishery management. “The Lenfest conclusion … is not based on any fact,” said Dr. Carl Walters, “…it’s based on model predictions…models that we know now are fundamentally flawed. In hindsight, it’s an irresponsible recommendation.”

This isn’t the first-time ecosystem models used in earlier studies have been questioned. One year after the Lenfest study was completed, two of its authors, Dr. Tim Essington and Dr. Éva Plagányi, published a paper in the ICES Journal of Marine Science saying, “We find that the depth and breadth with which predator species are represented are commonly insufficient for evaluating sensitivities of predator populations to forage fish depletion.” The Hilborn et al study reaffirmed this finding, noting “several reasons to concur with the conclusion that the models used in previous analysis were insufficient.”

The authors concluded their study by noting the importance of forage fish as a part of human food supply chains, as well as the low environmental impact of forage fisheries. They also praised the high nutritional value of forage fish, both through direct human consumption and as food in aquaculture. Curtailing forage fisheries, as recommended by Lenfest, would force people to look elsewhere for the healthy protein and micronutrients provided by forage fish — likely at much greater environmental cost.

We all know it’s important to balance the needs of the ecosystem, human nutrition and coastal communities in the management of our fisheries. That’s why the Council should heed these new findings, and base management guidance on the latest, best scientific evidence. The future of California’s historic wetfish industry, the foundation of California’s fishing economy, hangs in the balance.

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.


Original post on: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/

Apr 4 2017

Predators may be less affected by catch of small fish than previously thought, new study says

Previous studies overlooked key factors in recommending lower catch of forage fish

Click here to watch the authors of the study discuss their findings, which suggest that previous research overstated the impact of fishing forage fish on their predators.

WASHINGTON (NCFC) – April 3, 2017 – New research published today in the journal Fisheries Research finds that fishing of forage species likely has a lower impact on predators than previously thought, challenging previous studies that argued forage fish are more valuable left in the ocean.

A team of seven respected fisheries scientists, led by Prof. Ray Hilborn, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, found that predator populations are less dependent on specific forage fish species than assumed in previous studies, most prominently in a 2012 study commissioned by the Lenfest Ocean Program, which is managed by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force argued that forage fish are twice as valuable when left in the water to be eaten by predators, and recommended slashing forage fish catch rates by 50 to 80 percent.

For fisheries management, such a precautionary approach would have a large impact on the productivity of forage fisheries. As groups such as IFFO (The Marine Ingredients Organisation) have noted, these stocks contribute strongly to global food security, as well as local and regional social and economic sustainability.

However, the new research found multiple omissions in the methodology of the Lenfest study. “When you review the actual models that were used [by Lenfest], there are a few key elements on the biology of these animals that were not represented,” said Dr. Ricardo Amoroso, one of the study’s co-authors. He added that one of the authors’ approaches was to “look for empirical evidence of what is actually happening in the field.” Previous studies relied on models which took for granted that there should be a strong link between predators and prey.

Specifically, the Lenfest study and another study using ecosystem models ignored the natural variability of forage fish, which often fluctuate greatly in abundance from year to year. It also failed to account for the fact that predators tend to eat smaller forage fish that are largely untouched by fishermen. Because of these oversights, the new study concluded that the Lenfest recommendations were overly broad, and that fisheries managers should consider forage species on a case-by-case basis to ensure sound management.

“It is vital that we manage our fisheries to balance the needs of the ecosystem, human nutrition and coastal communities,” said Andrew Mallison, IFFO Director General. “These findings give fishery managers guidance based on science, and update some of the inaccurate conclusions of previous reports.”

The Lenfest findings were largely based on a model called EcoSim, developed by Dr. Carl J. Walters, one of the co-authors of the new paper. Dr. Walters found that the EcoSim models used in earlier studies had omitted important factors, including natural variability, recruitment limitations and efficient foraging of predators.

Dr. Walters noted that there were “very specific” issues with previous uses of the EcoSim model. “It was predicting much higher sensitivity of creatures at the top of the food webs to fishing down at the bottom than we could see in historical data,” he said.

This is not the first time ecosystem models used in earlier studies have been questioned. One year after the Lenfest study was completed, two of its authors, Dr. Tim Essington and Dr. Éva Plagányi, published a paper in the ICES Journal of Marine Science where they said, “We find that the depth and breadth with which predator species are represented are commonly insufficient for evaluating sensitivities of predator populations to forage fish depletion.” The new study reaffirmed this finding, noting “several reasons to concur with the conclusion that the models used in previous analysis were insufficient.”

In addition to its critiques of previous research, the researchers found further evidence of the lack of fishing impact on forage fish. Their research indicated that environmental factors are often much more important drivers of forage fish abundance. They also found that the distribution of forage fish has a greater impact on predators than simply the raw abundance of forage fish.

The authors concluded by noting the importance of forage fish as a part of human food supply chains, praising their high nutritional value, both through direct human consumption and as food in aquaculture, as well as the low environmental impact of forage fishing. Cutting forage fishing, as recommended by the Lenfest group, would force people to look elsewhere for the healthy protein and micronutrients provided by forage fish – likely at much greater environmental cost, the authors wrote.

“Forage fish provide some of the lowest environmental cost food in the world – low carbon footprint, no water use,” Dr. Hilborn said. “[There are] lots of reasons that forage fish are a really environmentally friendly form of food.”

It is also well-established that forage fisheries provide substantial health benefits to human populations through the supply of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, both directly through consumption in the form of fish oil capsules, and indirectly through animal feed for farmed fish and land animals.

The paper was authored by Dr. Ray Hilborn, Dr. Ricardo O. Amoroso, and Dr. Eugenia Bogazzi from the University of Washington; Dr. Olaf P. Jensen from Rutgers University; Dr. Ana M. Parma from Center for the Study of Marine Systems -CONICET, Argentina; Dr. Cody Szuwalski from the University of California Santa Barbara; and Dr. Carl J. Walters from the University of British Columbia.

Read the full study here

Watch a video about the study here

Read an infographic about the study here
About the NCFC
The National Coalition for Fishing Communities provides a national voice and a consistent, reliable presence for fisheries in the nation’s capital and in national media. Comprised of fishing organizations, associations, and businesses from around the country, the NCFC helps ensure sound fisheries policies by integrating community needs with conservation values, leading with the best science, and connecting coalition members to issues and events of importance. For more, visit www.fisheriescoalition.org.

About IFFO
IFFO represents the marine ingredients industry worldwide. IFFO’s members reside in more than 50 countries, account for over 50% of world production and 75% of the fishmeal and fish oil traded worldwide. Approximately 5 million tonnes of fishmeal are produced each year globally, together with 1 million tonnes of fish oil. IFFO’s headquarters are located in London in the United Kingdom and it also has offices in Lima, Peru, and in Beijing, China. IFFO is an accredited Observer to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). To find out more, visit www.iffo.net.


 

Apr 3 2017

Video: Leading Fisheries Scientists Challenge Lenfest Research that Recommended Cutting Catch of Forage Fish

Clockwise from top left: Dr. Ray Hilborn, Dr. Ricardo O. Amoroso, and Dr. Carl J. Walters

WASHINGTON (NCFC) — April 3, 2017 — A new study by a team of respected fisheries scientists from around the globe is challenging previous forage fish research, most notably the 2012 Lenfest Oceans Program report “Little Fish, Big Impact,” which recommended leaving more forage fish in the water to be eaten by predators.

Dr. Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington was the lead author on the paper, which will be published later today in the peer-reviewed journal Fisheries Research. The study concludes that fishing of forage species likely has a lower impact on their predators than previously thought.

You can learn more about this important research right now by watching the seven-minute video below. In the video, Dr. Hilborn and two of the paper’s co-authors, Dr. Carl J. Walters and Dr. Ricardo O. Amoroso, discuss the paper’s findings, and their implications for forage fish management.

The Lenfest Oceans Program was established in 2004 by the Lenfest Foundation and is managed by the Pew Charitable Trusts

Look for further updates, and the complete research paper, from Saving Seafood’s National Coalition for Fishing Communities throughout the day.


Copyright © 2016 Saving Seafood

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/