Posted by Susan Jackson
5 December 2011
Recently, the New York Times reported on a new partnership between fishermen on California’s central coast and the Nature Conservancy. In 2006, the Nature Conservancy purchased local fishing boats and licenses in order to protect millions of acres of groundfish habitat – and then put everyone back to work through the Central Coast Groundfish Project.
Today, the fishermen are back on the water, working with scientists and state and Federal agencies, and putting cutting edge, environmentally sound fishing methods into practice. The Central Coast project focuses on the following areas:
• Markets. The Central Coast project is taking advantage of the growing demand for sustainably caught local seafood, moving past the traditional trawl-based model of catching and selling high volumes of fish for low values and providing the economic incentive to participate in long-term conservation projects.
• Local Management. The Nature Conservancy is working with local fishermen and fishery managers to develop a new management model that meets the needs of fishermen and promotes a new model of sustainability.
• Science and Harvest Innovation. The Conservancy and its partners are using the work of fishermen on the water to launch new research projects to promote sustainable fishing practices in the area.
Part of the innovation is the use of mobile devices, like iPads, and computer technology to collect better, more comprehensive fishing data.
This kind of cooperative effort is exactly the type of collaboration we think will have the biggest impact in tuna fisheries.
In 2011, ISSF launched projects aboard two vessels – the Yolanda L., in cooperation with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Comission, and the Maya’s Dugong, in cooperation with the EU funded MADE project – to come up with new, practical ways to reduce bycatch. Additional cruises are planned for early 2012. Successes on the water will lead to the development of new protocols, best practices guides and gear modifications to keep sharks, turtles, and other fish out of the catch.
As the Nature Conservancy’s project demonstrates, the way to really make sure that we’re creating a sustainable future for fisheries is to base the decisions we make on sound science, accurate data and meaningful partnerships.