SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SCOM] - January 16, 2014 -
About 160 people came together January 8th-9th in Seattle to look into the potential for improved catch monitoring and increased accountability as this period of tight federal budgets – along with the rising costs of human observers – have combined to make electronic reporting (ER) and electronic monitoring (EM) high-priority issues in federal fisheries policy.
The “National Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Workshop” was supported by a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), with matching funds provided by EDF.
It was principally organized by Dorothy Lowman, a fisheries consultant and chair of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, who worked with a steering committee of managers, scientists, fishing industry representatives, NOAA officials and conservation interests from around the country.
“We’ve seen many EM pilot projects over the years, and they’re important, but we thought it was time to pull key stakeholder groups together from every region to talk about how we can move as efficiently as possible from feasibility to implementation,” said Lowman.
Sam Rauch, NOAA’s Acting Administrator for Fisheries, set the tone in his opening remarks, saying, “A lot of great work has been done through pilot projects and the policies that have been developed around EM and ER; it is time to put these plans into practice.”
Plenary sessions addressed broad EM issues and key components of successful EM programs that have relevance across all regions, while breakout sessions gave participants a chance to dig deeper on EM goal-setting, costs, logistics, data integration, bycatch, and the particular challenges encountered in recreational, small-boat or multi-species fisheries.
“EM isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so it was crucial to bring the right mix of stakeholders and decision makers together,” said Sarah McTee, a Fishery Policy Specialist with EDF. “I sense a more engaged and optimistic attitude after the workshop. The conversation surrounding EM has shifted, and I predict we will see more proactive approaches to determining how technology can be utilized to meet monitoring needs.“
Recognition of the fact that every fishery brings its own challenges was broadly acknowledged at the workshop, but the more prevalent theme was about getting things done. “Each of our nation’s fisheries is unique in terms of their needs and the timeline to consider EM, but the energy and interest in moving forward is growing quickly,” said Tom Dempsey, Policy Director for the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “This workshop gave a number of us coming from New England as managers, fishermen and scientists a great opportunity to discuss what’s been done so far, and the potential for these solutions in our region. I think a lot of us left Seattle excited about the work ahead of us.”
Several participants expressed that they would like to see more programs up and running. “My biggest takeaway is that we need to implement less-complex EM programs as soon as possible; get them operating,” said Bob Dooley, a West Coast whiting fisherman and president of United Catcher Boats. “They’ll pave the way for the more complex programs that will take longer to develop. I hope everybody here got that message; I think they did.”
Lowman and her Steering Committee members were busy in the days following the workshop as they announced the launch of a new EM resource-base at www.eminformation.com. The website currently houses workshop-related presentations, background papers and contact information for the workshop’s participants, but the plan is to build it out more in the weeks to come, and provide an information-sharing network for everyone interested in electronic monitoring.
“I think we all ended up on the same page at the end of the workshop,” said Lowman. “Now the challenge is to maintain momentum.”
Reprinted with permission, Seafood.com
NOAA Fisheries has announced the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register that implements cost recovery for the Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program beginning January 10, 2014. NOAA also released a Public Notice that includes further details. Both files are below in PDF.
For 2014, the fee percentages by sector are:
- 3.0 % for the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program,
- 2.4 % for the MS Coop Program
- 1.1 % for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Coop Program
Online Workshop for Fishermen
NOAA will hold a cost recovery "How To" Workshop on January 7, 2014, from 9am-Noon Pacific Standard Time. The workshop will be held via GoTo Meeting and will include both a conference call-in line and an online presentation. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.
Attendance is limited, and will be managed on a "first come, first served" basis. If there is sufficient demand, additional workshops will be scheduled. If you would like to attend the cost recovery workshop, please RSVP to Ariel Jacobs, (206) 526-4491, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On December 5th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order granting summary judgment in Pacific Dawn, LLC, et al, Plaintiffs, v. Penny Pritzker, et al., Defendants, and Midwater Trawlers, et al., Intervenor-Defendants.
In this much-watched case, the court granted the defendants' and intervenor-defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment, meaning that the original IFQ allocation for West Coast whiting will stand. Plaintiffs in this case had hoped for changes to the control dates used for establishing whiting IFQ.
Defendants and defendant-intervenors cheered the ruling, which reinforced the ideas that control dates are, 1) critical for preventing further over-capitalization and for protecting the resource, and 2) that the length of time between the control dates and implementation of the catch share program was not excessive, given the complexity of the program and the issues involved.
The decision document is available below in pdf form.
Fishermen's News - November 6, 2013
Any sense of dead reckoning indicates the Pacific Coast hake (whiting) fishery is alive and well, thanks to coordinated, collaborative efforts within the industry to avoid by-catch and enhance sustainability.
Those efforts netted the attention of government officials and fishermen in Mexico as they try to decide how best to manage an emerging hake fishery in the Gulf of California.
In 2012, fishermen from Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) asked the folks from the San Francisco-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to work with them to improve management of their growing hake fishery. A series of meetings ensued, with fishery and EDF leaders deciding to take initial steps to establish a catch share system based on the successful system launched in 2011 by the US fishery. Toward that end, more than 20 government officials and fishermen from Mexico converged on Newport, Oregon at the end of July to get the take on hake during a two-day exchange of information and ideas with their US counterparts.
The exchange in Newport focused on the first-hand experiences of the fishermen, managers and others involved in the US hake catch shares system. Dorothy Lowman, vice chair of the PFMC and a fisheries consultant, said EDF considered the exchange “essential” to getting the word out about “the process, benefits and challenges of establishing rights-based management” – something EDF and others earnestly promote.
Pacific Fishing Magazine, August 2013, by Deeda Schroeder
About two and a half years into the West Coast Trawl Rationalization program, fishermen and their supporters are beginning to feel confident that they understand the program.
That understanding includes the program's benefits and its weaknesses -- and how the program's expenses affect fishermen's bottom line.
The trouble is, those costs have already begun to ramp up. In the next few years, if nothing changes, new expenses are likely to eliminate what for some are already slim profit margins, fishermen and industry supprters said.
At the same time, the program's rules are holding the fleet -- especially the non-whiting boats -- from catching more fish to pay for the higher costs. In 2012, aggregate attainment of all species other than whiting was 29 percent, up 5 percent from 2011, but nowhere near what it could be if some restrcitions were loosened....
Complete article in PDF below!
In August, Half Moon Bay fisherman Rob Seitz (F/V South Bay) was interviewed on KCBX radio in San Luis Obispo, along with Shems Jud of the Environmental Defense Fund. The interview covered a range of topics about how the catch share program is working so far, as well as the challenges - most of them cost-related - that trawlers still face.
If you'd like to hear the interview, this link will open an MP3 of KCBX's Issues and Ideas program, and after a brief intro the interview leads the show. It runs about 23 minutes in length.
By Larry Coonrod of the News-Times
Newport's commercial fishing fleet rolled out the weclome mat this week for more than 20 fishermen from nothern Mexico here to learn about the Pacific whiting fishing catch share program.
Whiting, also known as hake, are processed as fillets, fish sticks and surimi; a product used in imitation crab and shrimp.
Primarily Sea of Cortez shrimpers venturing into Mexico's nascent whiting fishery, the fishermen approached the Environmental Defense Fund about setting up a catch share program to manage their fishery sustainably.
Please read full article in PDF below
Shems Jud of EDF has an op-ed in the latest issue of National Fisherman, titled, Next Steps for West Coast Catch Shares. It focuses on three persistent challenges faced by West Coast trawlers, namely 1) Cost recovery and restructuring the buyback loan, 2) Reducing observer costs, and 3) Expanding fishing opportunity.
National Fisherman does not make their full magazine content available online, so we've posted the op-ed here in PDF form for easy reading.
New legislation would give fishermen flexibility to grow businesses by refinancing federal loans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03) and Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) led a coalition of senators and representatives to introduce new legislation that would help support the West Coast’s fishing industry.
The Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act is cosponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) in the U.S. Senate. The House version of the bill is cosponsored by Jared Huffman (D-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Don Young (R-AK), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
Many fishing businesses in the West Coast groundfish fishery have struggled to pay high interest rates on federal loans and fees on their catch. This legislation ensures these fishermen receive the same interest rates on federal loans as other businesses, and extends the length of these loans from 30 to 45 years. In addition, the legislation reduces fees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects from fishermen to pay down their loans.
In 2011, the West Coast groundfish fishery supported 3,000 jobs and a catch valued at $64 million.
“The fishing industry is crucial to our state’s $10.8 billion coastal economy,” said Cantwell. “In Washington state and Alaska, we have some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world. This bill helps put fishing businesses on a level playing field with other businesses getting federal loans. Groundfish fishermen will receive the flexibility they need to grow their businesses and help spur economic activity in communities all along our coast.”
“This bill will provide much-needed relief to the folks in Southwest Washington whose livelihoods depend on fishing,” said Herrera Beutler. “Conditions have changed in both the economy and the fishing industry since these loans were issued, and too many small fishing businesses up and down our coast are struggling to keep afloat financially. I’m proud to lead this solution with Senator Cantwell, Congressman Huffman and a bipartisan group of our colleagues who want to help save fishing jobs and reduce the squeeze on fishermen’s bottom lines.”
“The success of our local fishermen is essential to the health of the North Coast’s economy, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to repay the debt on a decade-old federal loan. The combination of interest payments, new fees, and rising fuel costs are putting small businesses in our coastal communities at risk,” Congressman Huffman said. “The REFI Act will simply let the fishermen refinance their existing loan at today’s lower interest rates—just like any other homeowner or business owner would do. It’s a win-win for small businesses and the environment.”
"From central California to Southwest Washington, the West Coast groundfish fleet has worked with Senator Cantwell and Representative Herrera Beutler, on the introduction of the REFI Pacific Act," said Robert Dooley, President of United Catcher Boats, a trade association that represents fishermen on the West Coast and in Alaska. "Our fishery is on the recovery thanks to catch shares but increased costs will undermine that recovery. This bill will help ensure the success and even survival of our fishery and the 3,000 jobs supported by the fishery"
“A vessel owner in this fleet often ends up paying a significant amount of their revenue toward the repayment of the government loan,” said David Lethin, a fisherman from Wahkiakum County in Washington state. “That’s money that could be used to repair, maintain, and with some luck, upgrade, vessels, gear and safety equipment—something that this Pacific Coast fleet hasn’t been able to afford for a very long time. We are grateful for Senator Cantwell and Congresswoman Herrera Beutler for their willingness to address our needs, and take the initiative to find workable solutions.”
The Secretary of Commerce declared the West Coast groundfish fishery a federal fisheries economic disaster in 2000, because of overcapitalization and overfishing. In 2003, Congress authorized buyback loans for the fishery to decrease fishing pressure and support a catch-share program in the fishery. These loans help eliminate overfishing by buying out the permits of fishermen willing to leave the fleet. The remaining fishermen in the fleet have since been responsible for the loans.
Cantwell, a member and former chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, is a long-time advocate for initiatives that protect the health of the ocean’s resources and coastal economies. Herrera Beutler represents communities throughout Pacific, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties that depend on the fishing industry for economic survival.
Legislation aimed at alleviating the financial hardship of a federal loan that has been weighing on Pacific Coast groundfish fisherman for nearly a decade has moved one step closer to passing, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman's office announced on Thursday.
Introduced into Congress this week, Huffman's “Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act” picks up where a bipartisan bill introduced in September 2012 by former North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson left off, and would allow for the refinancing of a $35.7 million buyback loan authorized by Congress in 2003.
In a press release, Huffman called the bill -- his second piece of legislation to be introduced since he took office in January -- “... a win-win for small businesses and the environment.”
The opportunity to refinance the loan at a lower interest rate would give local groundfish fishermen the same opportunities as any homeowner or business, and would not require the federal government to spend any new money.
“The success of our local fishermen is essential to the health of the North Coast's economy, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to repay the debt on a decade-old federal loan,” Huffman said in the release. “The combination of interest payments, new fees, and rising fuel costs are putting small businesses in our coastal communities at risk.”
The bill, Huffman said, will let fishermen refinance existing loans at today's lower interest rates “just like any other homeowners or business owner would do.”