Eco-Think Tank Proposes Community Catch Shares


Jay Barrett/KMXT

A plan for community catch share programs in fisheries nationwide was unveiled in Washington D.C. by a panel of fishermen and environmentalists Tuesday morning. Brought together by Eco-Trust, an environmental investment think-tank based in Oregon, the National Panel on Community Dimensions of Fisheries Catch Share Programs sought to present a framework on how communities can benefit from catch-share fisheries management. KMXT’s Jay Barrett has more.

A catch share program is one that takes a public resource, such as the fish in the sea, and gives individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities the exclusive right to catch them. It’s been implemented with mixed results in Alaska. While some might argue the Bering Sea crab fishery is safer after it was rationalized, those who were left without a job because of quota consolidation might contend it’s only safer because scores of boats and hundreds of fishermen have been excluded from it.

NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenko, a former PEW Fellow, has pushed regional fishery councils to consider catch shares wherever possible.

Eco-Trust is recommending a catch share system where communities are given the quota to various fisheries, to split up among its resident fishermen. Paul Parker, the director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, was one of the panelists at Tuesday’s announcement:

(Catch Shares 1 49 sec "I’m hear to really speak … raised about catch shares.")

Theresa Peterson is from a Kodiak fishing family. She says divvying up quota so that there are not absentee owners or excessive consolidation will be a challenge:

(Catch Shares 2 41 sec "We’ve had many, many … way up in our design.")

Bering Sea crab rationalization also brought with it processor quota shares, which dictate how much poundage fishermen must deliver to different processors. It created winners and losers in communities that got more or less crab to process than before rationalization. Astrid Sholz of Eco-Trust says there may be ways to include processors in the community shares program:

(Catch Shares 3 37 sec "We don’t want to get into … interesting ways to go.")

She said the panel is calling on NOAA to invest in the research and development of new community business models and support public and private financing that promote community catch shares:

(Catch Shares 4 16 sec "We think it’s incumbent on … in any one location.")

The full report is available online here.

In Kodiak, I’m Jay Barrett.


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