- Terry StockwellChair of the New England Fisheries Management Council
- Tom NiesExecutive Director of the New England Fisheries Management Council
Stop Failing the Fish and the Fishermen
My name is Tim Rider and I’m a commercial fisherman based in Saco, Maine. I became a fisherman not to make a killing, but rather to try and just make a living. Over the past 15 years, together with other fishermen who are trying to make a living, we have taken conservation measures to bring back the fish. Now, Catch Share policies are undoing all the good we did as fisheries access is concentrating into the hands of just a few players, communities are losing their infrastructure, and in the process, the stocks are decimated.
We have brought these problems along with a suite of solutions to our fisheries managers, the New England Fisheries Management Council (the Council), and yet over the past 5 years the Council has failed to address the problems. They’ve decided its more important to maintain the status quo, which they created when the Council adopted policies that turned the fish and fishing rights into private property to be traded and sold on Wall Street instead of policies that put local seafood on our plates at our schools, restaurants, hospitals, and dinner tables.
Status quo is unacceptable. We need to level the playing field for family fishermen and the fish.
Support the fight for fair fisheries by adding your name to this petition. Fish are still a public resource and should stay that way. They don’t and shouldn’t be anyone’s private property, except maybe when you buy some for your dinner. Fishery managers must understand they cannot give the rights and access to the resource away to the highest bidder. Our fight is about access rights, food access, jobs, and conservation. Thanks for your support.
Catch Share Policy Background
A policy called Catch Shares is squeezing out family fishermen like myself who have spent years taking conservation measures to restore overfished species, ensure a more healthy ocean, and provide access to a healthy source of food from the ocean.
As they stand, Catch Shares concentrate the rights and access to fish into the hands of a few larger-scale businesses whose bottom line is primarily money. In its first two years, Catch Shares led to just three corporations controlling nearly 40% of the catch quota for one fish species here in New England and yet there is still no limit or quota cap. This is not the way to conservation.
If we truly care about our oceans and our fisheries, then saving our family fishermen really matters. Family fishermen bring more value to the ocean, local economies, and access to locally harvested food.
We know from the experience with our US family farmers that consolidation resulted in large-scale factory farming corporations driving out family farmers and degrading the land based environment, biodiversity, and security of the food system everywhere. We must not repeat these same mistakes on our ocean.
- Chair of the New England Fisheries Management Council
- Executive Director of the New England Fisheries Management Council
Stop Failing the Fish and the Fishermen.
Dear Mr. Stockwell,
The New England Fisheries Management Council has failed the fishermen.
Since the New England Catch Share policy began in 2010, fishermen and allies have identified problems such as excessive fleet consolidation, inappropriate scale of fishing on inshore areas, lack of access for the next generation of fishermen, and lack of transparency.
Over the past five years the Council prioritized the Amendment 18 in order to solve these problems. Fishermen and allies worked together to offer various solutions to the Council and yet still, the Council has failed to address these problems.
As it stands, all of the options in Amendment 18 allow those who control the most fish quota to keep it. Those who have fished at scale-inappropriate levels get to continue. And lack of transparency surrounding quota cost and trading is still unacceptable.
Community fishermen have followed the public process and yet you have ignored them.
Before the Catch Share policy was adopted in rapid fashion, the Council and Catch Share proponents promised that they would work to fix any problems that might arise. Now we are left wondering if that was a way to quiet those concerned about Catch Shares because if it was a sincere offer then we are here to tell you that you have failed at fulfilling your promise.
The following protections are essential if you were sincere about wanting to fix Catch Shares:
* Inshore area protections to allow the local stocks to recover. Protections might include trip limits, fishing one broad stock area, and more.
* Fleet diversity protections for fishermen who fish on these stocks.
* Mechanisms for inter-generational trading of fisheries access, affordable community quota, baseline leasing criteria for leasing, and more.
* Establish a cap on quota control somewhere between 2-5%.
The Council’s lack of attention to these issues is a major problem because family fishermen support local economies, a healthy ocean, and access to locally caught seafood. I urge you to adopt policies that protect fleet diversity, level the playing field for family fishermen, and ensure that the rights and access to fish and the public’s ocean are NOT privatized and concentrated into the hands of a few players.
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