November 3, 2011
California's fishing industry is in the midst of a sea change: This is the first year of the National Marine Fisheries Service's new catch-share program, which makes fishing quotas transferable among trawlers. The policy has been heralded by environmentalists and fishermen alike for reducing bycatch while preserving the fishing economy.
But U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is asking the feds to consider the needs of smaller fishing communities in the shift to this new system.
In a letter sent today, Boxer and seven colleagues, including Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), ask NMFS to guide Regional Fishery Management Councils on how to include unique fishing communities' needs as they develop catch share specifics.
Among the suggestions [quoted from the letter]:
Strategies for the RFMCs to involve fishing communities at an early stage in the decision-making process to determine if catch shares and/or community associations are appropriate and ensure that the diverse needs of different communities are addressed.
Suggested approaches for the development of community associations or other mechanisms to retain local jobs and fishing heritage in traditional fishing-dependent communities.
Mechanisms for monitoring the economic and environmental impacts of catch shares following their implementation, so that best practices can be identified and adjustments can be made as needed.
Cost-effective monitoring techniques (such as vessel monitoring systems combined with video monitoring) to help smaller-scale fishermen adjust to the monitoring requirements of catch shares. requirements of catch shares.