The management of commercial fisheries in the U.S. is considered by many to be dysfunctional. Many people in the industry believe that federal regulations actually waste substantial quantities of fish and suppress economic prosperity. On the other hand, some conservation groups assert that federal regulations are not restrictive enough; allege that fish stocks are “overfished” or “overharvested” and that commercial fishing destroys habitat.
Disagreements between the fishing industry and conservation groups squander hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of under harvested fish, huge transaction costs, standoffs that seem perpetual, and untold hours of unnecessary conferences and meetings.
This waste is generated by a general disagreement on just about everything. To cite a few of many examples: there is a disagreement over how much fish should or could be caught; there is disagreement about how quotas are allocated among fishing groups, whether or not a stock is “overfished,” whether mixed stocks should be managed individually or as a group, and whether ecosystem management is feasible.
A lack of knowledge on the essential issues that relate to the productivity of the stocks, the habitat of the fish, and the response of the stocks to fishing versus the response of stocks to the ocean environment is at the center of most of the disagreements.
The Center For Sustainable Fisheries (CSF) believes that the extensive waste incurred by the disagreements can be eliminated by a focused “lets- get- the- facts- on- the- table” public education program.
Our public education program will be about collaboration and cooperation. The program will focused on working with the government, with the fishing industry, with conservation groups, and with the general public to shine a bright light on what we know and what we don’t know regarding fisheries management.
CSF believes that illuminating this dividing line will lead to better understanding and better decisions regarding fisheries management and alleviate, to a considerable degree, a dysfunctional fisheries management system.
In many cases the concern of many groups targets on current stock assessments. CSF intends to address this in-the-box-issue; however, CSF also feels that many fishery management problems result from looking at stock assessments from too narrow a perspective. CSF intends to participate in broadening the perspective and thinking outside the box to improve and simplify stock assessments.
CSF will bring an innovative view to the table by focusing efforts inside and outside the box and integrate these concerns with broader concerns that involve considering fisheries management as a total system—a total system in contemporary time and a total system that will evolve into the future. CSF will also work on providing technical support to contribute to generating legislation and policies that will be of greatest benefit to our Nation.
Our initial focus will be on technical support for reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and rationalization of fisheries management in the Northeast, particularly groundfish and scallops.