Last week, the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust announced the acquisition of more than $1 million in commercial groundfish fishing quota from The Nature Conservancy, permanently securing these historic fishing rights for the long-term benefit of the Monterey Bay community.

 The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust is a nonprofit organization created to own and lease groundfish quota to local fishermen, while working to improve the economic and environmental performance of the fishery.

“Thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s contribution, the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust will be able to support our local, family-owned fishing businesses,” said David Crabbe, commercial fisherman and board president of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust. “This will provide stability for our local ports and waterfront businesses, and it will ensure that future fishermen have access to this important fishery for years to come.”

In 2011, a new fishery management program, called catch shares, went into effect for 90 species of the West Coast groundfish fishery, achieving conservation goals. However, since catch shares can be bought and sold, there is a risk they will be sold to large, well-capitalized businesses from outside of the region. Without local access to quota, small-scale fishermen would be unable to harvest groundfish out of Monterey Bay, and the community would miss out on the economic, social, and environmental benefits that result from a local, sustainably managed fishery.

The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust exists to assure that those fishing rights stay in the community.

“The Trust is part of a new model of community ownership that is growing here in California and is gaining traction across the country,” said Kate Kauer, fisheries project director for The Nature Conservancy in California. “This is a promising model that gives local leaders a forum to come up with solutions to fishery management challenges and protect the health of local resources. 

The trust will continue to look for additional quota to purchase for locals.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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