Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 09 December 2011
The latest International Pacific Halibut Commission allocation proposals for Alaska have rocked fishermen all over the state (and many recreational fishermen across the country who comprise the fishing tourism sector).
The charter halibut fleet likely dodged a bullet by convincing NMFS to delay the catch-sharing plan they had once agreed to. But whatever happens, they will feel the pinch of reduced quotas, as well.
And well they should. But what this news tells me is that there is no fishery management panacea.
Just when you think IFQs or catch shares are the best route for all fisheries, Mother Nature throws you a curve ball. We've seen it in Pacific halibut, Gulf of Mexico gag grouper and possibly even in Northeast cod.
So the question is, what to do?
Well for starters, we have to reel in the power of the advocacy machines that promote only the science and scientists who support their prior headline-news-making studies. Innovation is the only way to keep learning about fishery management, the oceans, the markets and the communities that thrive on working waterfronts.
On the other hand, we don't need to toss out catch shares just because they are not working perfectly. But what we ought to focus on is fixing the problems we have with the systems we have in place before we march full-speed ahead installing a broken system in other fisheries.
Fishery management is a process of action, assessment and reaction. Let's not saw off the third leg of the stool.
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