Catch share or Catch 22?

It’s not just canary rockfish on the commercial fishermen’s most unwanted list. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries website for the Northwest region also lists yelloweye rockfish, widow rockfish and darkblotched rockfish among the species coastal fishermen must avoid.

Those of us watching knew it would be a complex, challenging issue, said professor Gil Sylvia, director of the Oregon State University Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station in Newport. How do they avoid by-catch hot spots?

The West Coast groundfish fisheries system converted to catch shares in 2011. Each boat has a quota of fish, the species it wants to keep as well as the ones it must avoid.

If the quota of constrained fish is exceeded, the boat owner must lease unused quota from another boat or pay it back from the following year’s quota. NOAA’s goal is to encourage fishermen to keep the over-fished species out of their nets and give them a chance to recover.

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