Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy at the Pew Environment Group, today issued the following statement in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) release of its draft policy on the use of catch shares in federal fisheries.
“NOAA and its Catch Shares Task Force recognize that catch shares are not a one-size-fits-all fisheries solution and not all fisheries can or should be managed by them. In keeping with that determination, the draft NOAA policy released today encourages, rather than mandates, that catch shares be one of several possible management tools regional fishery management councils should consider when developing their plans.
“Any catch shares program must be implemented in a way that strengthens conservation, supports local fishing communities and provides access for recreational anglers and diverse commercial fishing fleets.
“Catch shares give fishermen exclusive access to, not ownership of, a portion of the catch. They have been praised as a way of achieving sustainable fish populations by giving fishermen an incentive to conserve the resource.
“Indeed, when properly designed, catch shares can lead to substantial gains in fisheries by reducing capacity, increasing economic efficiency and ensuring sustainable catches. However, poor design can cause unintended economic hardship for many fishermen and their communities.
“Regardless of the management approach, the important first step needed to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations is to set annual limits, based on sound science, that determine the number of fish that can be caught sustainably. This should be coupled with timely and effective fishery monitoring to plan accurate catch limits in future years.
“While NOAA should be commended for taking into account valid concerns from many stakeholders, it is important that funding for catch shares programs not lead to cuts in other important programs necessary to establish annual catch limits.”
Read Pew's white paper on catch shares.
Read NOAA's draft catch share policy (PDF).