Posts Tagged fishing

Sep 7 2014

CHUCK DELLA SALA, JOE PENNISI, AND SHEMS JUD: Sustainability Certification Reflects Sea Change in West Coast Fisheries

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September 4, 2014 — In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner.

The following op-ed was submitted to Saving Seafood by Chuck Della Sala, the Mayor of the City of Monterey, California; Joe Pennisi, the owner and skipper of the F/V Pioneer; and Shems Jud, of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program:

Most California seafood lovers are familiar with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guides – the booklets that recommend which fish to eat and which should be avoided.

Seafood Watch just dramatically increased its list of recommended seafood options from the West Coast. They now rank nearly all bottom trawl-caught groundfish as “good” and “best” alternatives. Those species include lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, Dover sole, and dozens more.

Readers accustomed to grim news about marine resources will find this news a pleasant surprise; but for those who closely follow commercial fisheries of the West Coast it may seem more like a miracle.

Fourteen years ago the West Coast groundfish fishery was declared a disaster by the federal government. Years of overharvesting and science and management failures had resulted in rapidly dwindling stocks as too many boats chased too few fish in a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons.” Eight species were declared overfished, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Services were scrambling – along with fishermen – to figure out some way to save a major American fishery, and one of great importance to Monterey and the region.

There’s nothing like disaster to bring unlikely partners together. In the years following the declaration it has been our privilege – fishermen, fishing communities, and conservationists, to sit together at the same table with the Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to help develop an entirely new approach to managing one of the most complex multispecies fisheries on earth.

The quota-based management system that was eventually implemented in 2011 became known as the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program. It combined practical conservation incentives with a system of full accountability by putting federal observers on fishing vessels.   The program gives fishermen the flexibility to fish when the weather is right and to work with their markets to time landings to meet demand. Fishermen are also able to actively manage their portfolio of species, which has dramatically reduced both bycatch and discards.

Today, fishing businesses are slowly becoming more stable, and several of those overfished species are rebuilding at a surprisingly rapid rate.

In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner. The recent assessment from the Seafood Watch Program, and the June certification of thirteen species of West Coast groundfish as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, verifies that.

This is an unfolding success story; West Coast fishermen still face stiff challenges. They have to pay for those observers and bear much of the cost of administering their catch share program. But the announcement by Seafood Watch signifies a remarkable course change in this fishery, a change that California seafood lovers – and that’s everybody reading this, right? – can be proud of.

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View original post here.

Aug 22 2014

Fishing Fleets Search for Squid Off Santa Barbara Shores

Read the original post here on noozhawk.com

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A brightly lit commercial fishing vessel hunting for squid sits just offshore from Santa Barbara on a recent night. (Mike Eliason/Noozhawk photo)

Market squid are spawning in more places than normal, including in local waters

Bright lights seen off the shores of Santa Barbara signify the return of squid-fishing fleets locally, a common occurrence in recent years but still a bit unusual, experts say.

Santa Barbara isn’t typically a popular squid-spawning locale. But cooler surface temperatures in nutrient-rich Pacific Ocean waters the past four years have caused smaller California market squid to spawn like crazy everywhere, according to Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of California Wetfish Producers Association.

A market squid usually grows to eight inches long with its eight legs and two feeding tentacles— sometimes up to a foot — and lives about nine months, she said.

The animals are one of the smallest of all 300-plus species of squid, and die after laying eggs in sandy, shallow water, which is where fishermen come in.

Most squid are caught with help from light boats, which shine bright lights at the water to attract the animals to the surface. When they do, fishing boats catch the squid in nets and share about 20 percent of profits with their helpers, Pleschner-Steele said.

She said squid-fishing season lasts nearly year-round, from April 1 through March 1, but closes whenever fishermen reach the statewide cap of 118,000 tons — a rarity.

Boats usually follow squid from one spawning ground to the next, starting in Monterey and then heading south, sometimes netting near the northern Channel Islands and Ventura.

Pleschner-Steele, who lives in Buellton, said La Niña effects have spurred squid to spawn near Santa Barbara and Carpinteria for unknown reasons, and fishermen hit the state’s tonnage quota in 2010.

Most squid are caught with help from light boats, which shine bright lights at the water to attract the animals to the surface. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

“Squids are a fascinating animal,” Pleschner-Steele said. “We are learning more about them, and we’re learning how much we don’t know about them.”

The California Wetfish Producers Association was founded in 2004 to promote sustainable fishing and to foster collaborative research with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The nonprofit also governs other so-called “wetfish,” such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies and coastal tuna.

Although the squid fishery is the state’s largest in terms of volume and revenue, Pleschner-Steele said fishermen haven’t seen such solid production since the last La Niña effects in the late 1990s.

The boom is likely nearing its end, however, she said.

“We’ve just had four banner squid seasons,” she said. “The conditions were so ripe in so many places. These are small little animals but they are sure tasty.”


 

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Aug 7 2014

D.B. PLESCHNER: Some Inconvenient Truths about California Squid Marketing

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Greenberg missed the boat on a number of issues, including the overall carbon footprint of seafood, but equally important, the reasons why most of the squid that California exports is consumed overseas!

Read the original Paul Greenberg op-ed in the Los Angeles Times

August 5, 2014 (SeafoodNews.com) — The following opinion piece appeared today on SeafoodNews.com:

 

In his op-ed to the Los Angeles Times last week, author Paul Greenberg could have dodged some critical misstatements and inaccuracies about the marketing of California squid – the state’s largest catch.

All he had to do was check with local sources, including the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents the majority of squid processors and fishermen in the Golden State and promotes California squid.

Instead, Greenberg missed the boat on a number of issues, including the overall carbon footprint of seafood, but equally important, the reasons why most of the squid that California exports is consumed overseas!

To set the record straight, here are some inconvenient truths you wouldn’t know about squid by reading last week’s op-ed:

First, size matters and price rules when it comes to California market squid, which are one of the smallest of more than 300 squid species found worldwide. The U.S. “local” market really prefers larger, “meatier” squid, notwithstanding Greenberg’s ‘locavore’ movement.

Greenberg acknowledged the labor cost to produce cleaned squid in California adds at least $1.50 per pound to the end product. In fact, local production costs double the price of cleaned squid, due to both labor (at least $15 per hour with benefits) and super-sized overhead costs, including workers’ comp, electricity, water and myriad other costs of doing business in the Golden State.

Del Mar Seafood is one processor in California that micro-processes cleaned squid at the request of markets like the CSA that Greenberg mentioned. In fact, virtually all California squid processors do the same thing at the request of their customers. But at 1,000 pounds per order, we would need 236,000 CSAs, restaurants or retail markets paying $1.50 more per pound to account for the total harvest. If the demand were there, we’d be filling it!

Greenberg also misconstrued the issue of food miles. Respected researchers like Dr. Peter Tyedmers, from Dalhousie University in Canada, found that transport makes a minor contribution to overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, when considering the carbon footprint of seafood (or land-based foods). Mode of production is far more important.

Here’s another surprise: California squid is one of the most efficient fisheries in the world – because a limited fleet harvests a lot of squid within a short distance of processing plants.

Studies show that the California wetfish fleet, including squid, can produce 2,000 pounds of protein for only 6 gallons of diesel. Squid are then flash frozen to preserve freshness and quality. Keep in mind that even with immaculate handling, fresh squid spoil in a few days.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, even with product block-frozen and ocean-shipped to Asia for processing, California’s squid fishery is one of the ‘greenest’ in the world. One recent survey estimated that about 30 percent of California squid is now either processed here or transshipped to Asia for processing (other Asian countries besides China now do the work) and re-imported.

China, although important, is only one export market that craves California squid. With a growing middle class billions strong, Chinese consumers can now afford California squid themselves. Many countries that import California squid prefer the smaller size, and California squid goes to Mediterranean countries as well. In short, most of the squid that California’s fishery exports are consumed overseas. Why? The U.S. palate for squid pales in comparison to Asian and European demand.

Also important to understand: California squid is the economic driver of California’s wetfish industry – which produces more than 80 percent of the total seafood volume landed in the Golden State. California squid exports also represent close to 70 percent by weight and 44 percent of value of all California seafood exports. Our squid fishery contributes heavily to the Golden State’s fishing economy and also helps to offset a growing seafood trade imbalance.

The sad reality is that price really does matter and most California restaurants and retail markets are not willing to pay double for the same – or similar – small squid that they can purchase for half the price.

Nonetheless, we do appreciate Greenberg’s pitch for local seafood. Our local industry would be delighted if, as he suggested, all Californians would be willing to pay $1.50 a pound more for California squid. We may be biased, but in our opinion California squid really is the best!


 

D.B. Pleschner is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit designed to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

Apr 30 2014

Fisheries Economics of The U.S. 2012

NOAA

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Economic information related to commercial and recreational fishing activities, and fishing-related industries in the United States are reported in the annual Fisheries Economics of the U.S. statistical series. These reports cover a ten year time period and include descriptive statistics on commercial fisheries landings, revenue, and price trends; recreational fishing effort, participation rates, and expenditure information; and employer and non-employer establishment, payroll, and annual receipt information for fishing-related industries. The economic impact of commercial and recreational fishing activities in the U.S. is also reported in terms of employment, sales, and value-added impacts.

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To download the full report, please click here.
Please direct comments and questions to Rita Curtis for commercial fisheries and marine economy data, and Sabrina Lovell for recreational fisheries data.
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View the NOAA webpage here.

 

Apr 3 2014

Exotic Opah in San Diego Harbor

‘Craziest day ever’ as exotic opah beaches itself in San Diego Harbor

It’s unclear how the colorful, deep-water denizen got so far off-track

by Pete Thomas | www.grindtv.com/outdoor/nature/post/craziest-day-ever-as-exotic-opah-beaches-itself-in-san-diego-harbor/

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Brandon Buono poses with 91-pound opah that was found swimming in front of Fisherman’s Landing; photo by Doug Kern

The opah is a solitary denizen of deep water and caught very rarely by anglers fishing far offshore for other species.

So folks at Fisherman’s Landing Tackle in San Diego were understandably surprised this week to discover that a 91-pound opah had swum right up to the dock area, where it was promptly gaffed by a landing employee.

That would mean the exotic opah either swam into and through much of San Diego Harbor to reach the landing, or the colorful fish was somehow delivered alive—say, in the ballast of a ship or the hold of a commercial fishing boat.

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Exotic opah after its capture at Fisherman’s Landing; photo by Doug Kern

Either way, it was a bizarre event, one that led landing co-owner Doug Kern to write on Facebook: “CRAZIEST DAY EVER AT FISHERMAN’S LANDING!”

Kern, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, also posted this statement: “I never would have believed it if I wasn’t there to see it. The fish was swimming around in circles and then just beached itself. Brandon [Buono, a landing employee] got a gaff and pulled it up on the sand.”

Opah are large and colorful fish that roam tropical and temperate seas and are delicious as table fare. They’re caught mostly by long-lining commercial fishermen targeting tuna and other pelagic fish. However, they’re caught very sporadically by anglers on San Diego’s long-range sportfishing fleet, which targets tuna and wahoo in Mexican waters.

One of the Facebook comments reads, “That was the El Nino messenger,” in reference to a warm-water event that appears to be developing in the eastern Pacific and could result in sending exotic species of fish far north of their typical range.

Those fish might include opah, yellowfin tuna, or mahi-mahi. But don’t count on any of those fish swimming ashore.

Dec 17 2013

Fishing Green: Calif. Harvested Wetfish Fisheries are the most efficient in the world

As more Californians consider their total carbon footprint, as a way to reduce human impacts on climate change, more are looking at “food miles”:  how far their food travels between the time it is harvested and the time it gets to their plate. The Farm-to-Fork movement not only implies freshness, but that transportation from the farm to the consumer’s plate is a relatively short distance.

Fishing, like farming, can be green and sustainable. And California is leading the way in this effort, but distance is a misleading measure. Fishing green implies that fisheries are harvested at a sustainable level, keeping the fish populations healthy, while providing nutritious foods to millions of Americans and others worldwide. Beyond fishing below set quotas, there are three ways that fishing green can be achieved:

• Reduce the harvest of foods that have high energy costs in their production, capture or transportation

• Reduce harvest of high trophic level species that require a large amount of primary production to replace their numbers

• Support efficiency in the production of fishery resources

In the complete “Fishing Green” report by Richard Parrish, PhD, you will learn more about how California’s wetfish fisheries (coastal pelagic species such as sardine, mackerel and market squid) are among the most sustainable methods of food production.  Purse-Seine fisheries for small pelagic fishes and squid in California are the most fuel-efficient of all the fisheries, averaging 6 gallons per metric ton harvested.

Read more in the full report here.

Oct 30 2013

Cyclical sardine stock decline sets off efforts by greens to suspend West Coast fishery

Seafood News

GRANTS PASS — Concerned sardine numbers may be starting to collapse, conservation groups are calling on federal fishery managers to halt West Coast commercial sardine fishing to give the species a better chance to rebound.

“If they continue fishing them hard, they will go down a lot faster, and it will take them longer to recover,” said Ben Enticknap, of the conservation group Oceana, that wants a suspension through the first half of 2014.

The fishing industry counters that while there are signs sardines are going into a natural cycle of decline, fishery management has taken precautions to prevent overfishing, which was common in the past.

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“Today’s precautionary management framework cannot be compared to the historic fishery, which harvested as much as 50 percent of the standing stock,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents sardine fishermen and processors. She is also vice chairman of a committee that advises the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council on sardines and related species.

Current harvest rates range from 15 percent to 25 percent, depending on the size of stocks.

The council plans to vote Sunday in Costa Mesa, Calif., on an interim harvest quota for the first half of 2014. The council has no specific proposal before it, council staffer Kerry Griffin said.

The latest sardine assessment prepared for the council says that stocks at the start of 2014 are expected to be 28 percent of their peak in 2006, when they hit 1.4 million metric tons. The current management plan for sardines says a decline of another 60 percent, to 150 metric tons, would require halting fishing off the West Coast.

Landings in Oregon, Washington and California have been valued at $9 million to $15 million a year. Most of the fish are exported to Asia, where some are canned and others used for bait for tuna.

Read the full story here.

Oct 26 2013

Boom Times for Squid Fishery

The Santa Barbara Independent

For the fourth year in a row ​— ​and with the fastest time ever since modern regulations began in 2005 ​— ​California’s squid-fishing fleet (pictured) hit its annual limit early, with the more than 100 permitted boats landing about 118,000 tons of the slimy species known as Doryteuthis opalescens by October 18, nearly six months before the season ends on March 31, 2014. Much of that haul came from boats working the Channel Islands and Gaviota Coast with bright lights at night, when it’s easiest to snag the squid as they spawn near the shoreline. From there, the Southern California boats deliver their loads to processing centers in Ventura, Port Hueneme, and San Pedro, which then freeze the squid and ship most of them to China. Together with the squid fishers up north in the Monterey Bay, the industry rakes in about $70 million annually.

“They’re the most valuable fishery in the state of California,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, the Buellton-based director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents commercial fishermen who catch squid, mackerel, sardine, and anchovy. “This was an unusual year. They were spawning way early and everywhere at the same time,” she explained, noting that her association’s research revealed more young squid in August than they usually see in the peak winter season. “It’s a phenomenon we haven’t seen before.”

Another twist this year was that the fishermen and processing centers were enlisted to help track the catch, filing reports daily so that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would know how much fish was being harvested and wouldn’t shut the season early, as had been done in years past. “We were able to help the department and also maximize the value of the fishery,” said Pleschner-Steele, whose association spearheaded the unique relationship and one day hopes for electronic tracking. “It’s an uncommon partnership.”

Read the full article here.

Oct 25 2013

Sustainable Seafood – A U.S. Success Story

NOAA   FishWatch

The United States is a recognized global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood. And you can help too!

This video introduces consumers to FishWatch.gov, which provides easy-to-understand, science-based facts to help users make smart, sustainable seafood choices.

Through this video, you’ll learn more about “sustainability” and what NOAA is doing to ensure that our seafood is caught and farmed responsibly with consideration for the health of a species, the environment, and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.

Have you ever thought about where that piece of salmon on your plate came from? It could have been caught in a wild fishery or harvested from an aquaculture operation. Maybe it’s from the United States, or maybe it was imported from another country, like Canada or Chile?

Read the full story here.

Sep 26 2013

Federal Agencies including Park Service Drop Private Certification Requirements for “Sustainable Seafood”; Will use NOAA FishWatch

Saving Seafood
WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) September 25, 2013 — Both the National Park Service (NPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have changed their “sustainable seafood” guidelines to focus on data from NOAA FishWatch instead of third-party ratings and certifications from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

The GSA, a federal agency that supplies food to other government agencies, has updated their “Heath and Sustainability Guidelines” to be in accordance with NOAA’s federal sustainability data. Previously, the guidelines instructed vendors to “only offer fish/seafood identified as ‘Best Choices’ or ‘Good Alternatives’ on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.”

The Agency’s seafood sustainability standards are modified in the guideline’s footnotes. Footnote 44 and footnote 44* indicate a clear change from their previous policy:

44. Examples of “Best Choices” do not imply government endorsement of these standards. Only endorsements made directly by governing agencies (e.g., USDA, FDA) should be considered government endorsements.

44.* The NOAA FishWatch Program defines sustainable seafood as “catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment.” Verifying the health and sustainability of U.S. and international fisheries is not always simple. Domestic fisheries are managed by State and Federal agencies under legally established fisheries management plans. International fisheries are managed under sovereign laws and international treaties. Guidance on how to make sustainable seafood choices is found on the NOAA FishWatch site at: www.fishwatch.gov/buying_seafood/choosing_sustainable.htm.

Read the full article here.