Washington, D.C. – A national, bi-partisan panel of 11 experts is releasing a report with 16 recommendations to strengthen the resilience and prosperity of fishing communities under a new Catch Share Policy.
America’s fishing communities generate $163 billion in revenues each year and support 1.9 million jobs; however, there has been a notable lack of implementation of existing provisions for communities in the nation’s fisheries law.
“This isn’t about being pro- or anti-catch shares. Catch share policy is coming and, done right, it can significantly bolster fishing communities and increase jobs,” said Paul Parker, Director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust. “These recommendations are about putting boats on the water and boots on the deck.”
The National Panel on Community Dimensions of Fisheries Catch Share Programs developed a 36-page report over the past year to address ways the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the eight U.S. Regional Fisheries Councils should include communities in their implementation of catch share policy. One example is to encourage NOAA to grant initial allocations of fish quotas to community entities.
Catch shares are a flexible means of managing fisheries by allocating a specific portion of the total allowable catch of a fish stock to individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities.
During a national telepress conference, two panelists and an Alaska fisherwoman shared the Panel’s findings and recommendations.
The Panel’s recommendations include urging NOAA to further define and develop guidelines for implementation of the community provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to be applied by all fishery management councils.
“As we move increasingly to a catch share model of fisheries management in the U.S., we need to get beyond a sense of who’s winning and who’s losing,” said John Campagna, managing partner at Restore Capital. “NOAA can help do that by requiring the councils to recognize community fishing associations and grant part of the catch allocation to them.”
Another Panel recommendation is that the agency and councils expand their financial tools to include public-private partnerships, loan guarantees, and a dedicated loan program to help communities purchase catch shares.
“We should be looking at how communities can participate in catch share programs, including through fishing associations and coops, and with creative financing mechanisms,” said Theresa Peterson, a veteran fisherwoman from Kodiak, Alaska. “We don’t want to encourage an absentee system where folks who own catch shares sit at home, then turn around and lease their shares to other fishermen at a big profit.”
Panelists, fishermen and policy specialists will be visiting Congressional members and NOAA Fisheries staff this week to share the Panel’s findings.
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