Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 30 December 2010
The end of the year is often a time of reflection and looking forward. This year I keep coming back to groundfish catch shares — looking back on the East Coast mess, looking forward to the West Coast's implementation.
I hope that when it's implemented that this system works better on the West Coast than it has in New England. NMFS announced in late December that it's briefly delaying the scheduled January implementation to prevent over-issuing quota shares. NMFS says doing so will keep early 2011 West Coast harvests low enough that it won't be necessary to require more drastic management action later.
However, I am wary of the lack of restrictions on permit-buying. If non-fishermen buy catch shares simply to put the quota out of commission, then I think we need to change the phrase "catch share." Perhaps "catch stops" or "community killers."
If catch shares are really the panacea to overfishing, as the Environmental Defense Fund would have us believe, then why do we need to keep any part of the catch out of fishermen's hands?
NMFS is turning to catch shares regardless of how they affect fishing communities, so the least the agency can do is ensure that the limited quotas are available for actual fishermen to fish them, not for NGOs to put them out of commission, completely bypassing the management process.
If we want to put an end to fishing in this country, we're on the right track.
If not, then 2011 needs to be the year of fighting back.
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