The Blog Aquatic » fishery management http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Let the Sun Continue to Shine on Fishery Management http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/12/let-the-sun-continue-to-shine-on-fishery-management/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/12/let-the-sun-continue-to-shine-on-fishery-management/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 22:39:52 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5130

Sunrise over fishing boat docks in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Bethany Kraft / Ocean Conservancy

Sunshine Week is upon us! Sunshine week  (March 10-16) is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

Governing in the sunshine is especially important for sustainably managing our nation’s fishery resources. Every year, fishery managers make decisions about how to manage fish populations, and they rely on input from fishermen, scientists, community groups and others to help make smart choices. Information gathered on the water about what fish are caught, where they are caught, and interactions with other ocean wildlife is essential for the public to understand how fish populations are being managed and how those decisions affect ocean ecosystems. Access to this information is necessary for everyone, including fishermen, to participate effectively in the management process, and to ensure that our fisheries are managed responsibly and sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations.

However, public access to fishery management information is currently being threatened. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering sweeping changes to its rule regarding confidentiality of information under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Unfortunately, it’s the opposite of governing in the sunshine. The proposed changes would unnecessarily stifle public participation in the management of public trust ocean resources, including depleted fish populations and protected species. The proposed rule would take the unprecedented and unwarranted leap from protecting personal privacies to withholding basic required information from the owners of the resource: the public. As currently written, the proposed rule could make nearly all essential fisheries data inaccessible to the public, and would prohibit access to critical information that forms the fundamental basis for fishery management decisions. The rule is still pending.

Our nation’s ocean wildlife and fish are public trust resources managed on all of our behalf by NMFS. These resources belong to the American public, and the entire nation has a stake in the jobs and revenues generated from them. U.S. fish populations alone support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the tourism, fishing and seafood industries. Commercial and recreational fishing generates $183 billion per year for the U.S. economy and supports more than 1.5 million full and part-time jobs. Moreover, millions of taxpayer dollars are invested each year in fisheries management including the collection of data by professional observers on fishing vessels. As noted by the Sunlight Foundation, this rule change would restrict access to information from publicly-funded fisheries observer programs, which are funded to the tune of some $40 million each year.

NMFS should withdraw this flawed proposal and replace it with one that ensures public access to fisheries information. The desire to streamline the federal fisheries data processing system is laudable, but the proposed rule presents an unjustified expanded cloak of secrecy that could undermine transparency and stifle public participation. In honor of Sunshine Week, we must continue to urge NMFS to preserve public access to fishery management information as the law intends. A new proposal must preserve transparency, participation and collaboration so that researchers, scientists and members of the public can contribute to the successful management of our nation’s publicly owned ocean resources.

 

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Sen. Daniel Inouye: A Hero to the Ocean, a Hero to Our Country http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/sen-daniel-inouye-a-hero-to-the-ocean-a-hero-to-our-country/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/sen-daniel-inouye-a-hero-to-the-ocean-a-hero-to-our-country/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 19:02:17 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3908


Senator Daniel Inouye makes remarks at the U.S.-Japan Council Opening Reception on Capitol Hill on October 6th, 2011. Photo: Us Japan Council

Late yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to announce the loss of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, one of the ocean’s true legislative champions. Inouye passed away last night as the second longest serving senator in history – leaving a long legacy of good works for the ocean.

As a senator and former representative from the country’s only island state, Inouye championed the causes of the ocean that surrounded and helped sustain the culture and economy of Hawaii. As one of Capitol Hill’s true bipartisan senators, he wielded his influence to work across the aisle and help pass landmark legislation for ocean health.

Inouye was an early champion in the fight against ocean trash, serving as a lead sponsor to introduce and eventually pass the Marine Debris Act. He also led and co-sponsored the most recent reauthorization of the bill.

As the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Inouye played a key role in the most recent reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act, which set hard deadlines for ending overfishing. He worked closely and in a bipartisan fashion with former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to pass the reauthorization and the bill may not have happened without this tireless work.

As senators from the 49th and 50th states, Inouye and Stevens shared a special bond and often worked closely on a host of ocean issues.

Inouye also sponsored legislation to create and reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act – legislation to protect the beautiful ecosystems so crucial to the Hawaiian way of life.

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he was a champion for ocean funding and was a co-sponsor of the National Endowment for the Oceans.

Throughout his long career in the Senate, Inouye was a servant to his state, country and the ocean.

But he was not only a hero to the ocean; he was also a hero to his country. Inouye served valiantly in World War II and received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his service. He was also the first Japanese American elected to the Senate and a champion of civil rights in Hawaii and across the country.

While Inouye was not always the most high-profile member of the Senate, often shunning the spotlight to work behind closed doors and across the aisle to pass meaningful legislation, those who worked with him will remember him as a passionate and effective leader.

In a time when political gamesmanship too often trumps bipartisan and pragmatic solutions, our country – and our ocean – will miss the quiet leadership of Sen. Daniel Inouye.

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Leadership in a Time of National Division http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/leadership-in-a-time-of-national-division/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/leadership-in-a-time-of-national-division/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:34:51 +0000 George Leonard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3462

Credit: George H. Leonard

After a year-long campaign, the voters have spoken and President Obama will lead the country for another four years. But while the Electoral College was decisive, the popular vote was essentially split; as a group, the American people remain deeply divided over many critical issues facing our nation – from health care to national defense.

This week, while national attention has been focused on politics at the highest level, fishery managers along the west coast quietly demonstrated unity and leadership by voting to advance important protections for forage fish – the small and often forgotten fish that form the base of the ocean food web.

Why is this such a big deal? Because as in politics, fisheries management is often divisive and making progress requires leadership. When our officials take important steps to better protect the ocean we should give credit where credit is due.

Today, the California Fish and Game Commission and yesterday, members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, signaled commitments to policies that will help ensure enough forage fish remain in the ocean for the many predators, like whales, dolphins and seabirds, which are dependent upon them. When fully implemented through new regulations, these protections in the Pacific could be a model for the nation and an important first step in moving toward comprehensive ecosystem-based fishery management. That has my community – the conservation community- celebrating.

But it’s not just conservationists applauding the forward thinking leadership on forage fish. This week’s pair of votes shows that a genuine consensus has emerged that “little fish” have tremendous value to people as well as bigger fish, supporting fisheries and ocean related jobs that provide over $20 billion worth of economic activity throughout the region. That is why groups voicing support for forage fish protections included seafood businesses, tourism operators like whale watching boats, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, as well as conservation organizations up and down the coast.

In fact, California’s new policy was crafted by fishing and conservation interests (including Ocean Conservancy) working collaboratively, based on their shared interest in ensuring a healthy and productive ocean for all. But don’t get me wrong; there is more work to be done, including finalizing these commitments and getting them implemented in the water.

Resolving the differences that will likely emerge during these processes won’t be easy.  But like crossing the political aisle, when leaders put aside differences and seek common ground, progress can be made. In the long run, a healthy ocean depends on having more examples of the kind of leadership displayed by fishery managers this week on forage fish.

Our nation’s elected officials could learn a thing or two from those on the west coast who care about forage fish. There are benefits to working together.

Indeed, leadership matters.

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Groups Seek Safeguards for Vulnerable Fish http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/08/groups-seek-safeguards-for-vulnerable-fish/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/08/groups-seek-safeguards-for-vulnerable-fish/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2012 20:31:11 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=998

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Two critically imperiled species of fish in the South Atlantic must be protected from overfishing immediately, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ocean Conservancy.

Speckled hind and Warsaw grouper are “extremely vulnerable to overfishing,” according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as they grow slowly, can live up to 40 years, and tend to spawn in groups. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies Warsaw grouper and speckled hind as “critically endangered,” and they are listed as “endangered” by the American Fisheries Society. NMFS has listed both as “Species of Concern,” one step short of Endangered Species Act listing.

NMFS’s decided last month to lift protections for these two imperiled fish species,  leaving them at risk by opening up deep waters they had previously protected in the South Atlantic, including the habitats where mature fish aggregate to reproduce. As a result, they are once again being caught unintentionally by fishing boats seeking other species that share the same waters.

“Speckled hind and Warsaw grouper are in trouble right now. The decision to remove protections without having an alternative ready was not only rash, but against the law. It is too risky to leave these fish unprotected, and the law requires that safeguards be in place,” said Chris Dorsett, Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Fish Conservation and Gulf Restoration.

Read our full press statement here.

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Fish Populations Making Comeback, NOAA Report Says http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/22/fish-populations-making-comeback-noaa-report-says/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/22/fish-populations-making-comeback-noaa-report-says/#comments Tue, 22 May 2012 13:30:34 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=635

Coho salmon are one of six populations of fish that NOAA has officially declared rebuilt in 2011. Credit: Soggydan Flickr stream

With a lot of hard work, a new trend is beginning to emerge for America’s fisheries: Good news.

A new report from NOAA shows that six populations of fish have been officially declared rebuilt in 2011, bringing that total number to 27. Fifty-one others are in process of rebuilding, while six are having plans put together now.

Of the 258 marine fish populations managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, only 36 are currently subject to overfishing. Forty-five are overfished, but due to the precise (read: weird) nature of fishery science, a fish population can be considered overfished while recovering.

Gulf red snapper is the perfect example. Its numbers have rebounded greatly over the past 2+ years, and its allowable catch levels have increased in a benefit to everyone involved, but it is still designated as overfished.

That will change as soon as scientists determine the population has fully recovered from decades of overfishing and depletion — a timeline the fishery management plan estimates to be around 2032. Recovery is ongoing, but full population restoration takes more time.

That’s a lot of numbers but what does it all mean? In short, the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working. We have laws on how wild marine fish are to be harvested: specifically Magnuson-Stevens (MSA).

The goal is to catch the fish we need for food and recreational while still preserving enough to ensure future generations. MSA added real teeth to management, set specific dates when plans needed to be put in place by regulators for overfished stocks, and set 2012 as the year overfishing must end.

The news from NOAA shows that it worked and continues to work. And while nothing — least of all MSA — is perfect, to repeal and/or water it down now would be snapping defeat from the jaws of victory.

Magnuson is working. Let it work.

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