Lawsuit targets West Coast groundfish plan

The San Francisco-based Crab Boat Owner’s Association, the Port Orford (Ore.) Ocean Resource Team, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations are suing the Department of Commerce to halt the catch shares plan. They say it will consolidate much of the fishing fleet, privatize public fish resources, deny many fishing ports access to fish in adjacent waters and cause massive job losses.

“If we didn’t act to stop this travesty,” says Larry Collins, a San Francisco fisherman and President of the Crab Boat Owners Association, “ownership of the resource will consolidate into the hands of a few operators in a few ports along the coast, leaving many coastal fishing communities, including our own Fisherman’s Wharf, with no access to our own local fish.”

The catch share system, the plaintiffs say, will eliminate thousands of coastal jobs, but won’t help strengthen groundfish stocks.

“This plan imposes a radical shift in the way our fisheries have been conducted. Since ownership of these quotas — which are being given to a select group of trawl operators — is not limited to those actually fishing, our next generation of fishing men and women will likely be seafaring sharecroppers forced to fish quotas held by processors, bankers and speculators,” says Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “This is social engineering, not conservation.”

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