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Improving West Coast Trawl Catch Programmes

US - An Ecotrust study demonstrates ways in which the catch share proposal for the West Coast trawl fishery can be improved.

These improvements include addressing critical economic, social and ecological objectives as well as looking at solutions which do not disadvantage crews, small owner-operators, fishing communities and new entrants.

Economic flaws could be addressed through the inclusions of owner-on-board rules and caps on leasing, which would keep quota and lease costs affordable. In addition, an online quota exchange would increase market transparency, while auctions would improve quota market liquidity.

Social shortcomings can be solved through investment in fishing communities by including them in initial allocations and facilitating the ability of communities and new entrants to purchase quota.

On the ecological front, the Council should create a system that allows fixed-gear vessels to harvest trawl quota through more equitable intersector allocations and gear-switching rules.

Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy, the Pew Environment Group said: "The Ecotrust study reinforces Pew's position that design matters when creating catch shares programmes. It is critical that fisheries managers design these systems to both strengthen conservation efforts and protect those fishermen and fishing communities that support sustainable fishing practices."

While the Ecotrust report underscores that catch shares are not a one-size-fits-all solution for fisheries management, Pew believes that the sector allocation system implemented in New England's groundfish fishery, which is based on a method pioneered and proven to work by a group of local fishermen in the region, is thoughtfully considered and well designed.

Peter Baker, manager for New England Fisheries Campaigns, the Pew Environment Group said: "New England's sectors were initiated by fishermen as voluntary, cooperative and community-based, and were designed to protect fleet diversity and coastal communities. They give a collective of fishermen incentives to fish their allocations more efficiently.

"Those who develop more innovative fishing gear can target more of the healthy fish populations and avoid those populations that are struggling. This will help rebuild stocks while reaping the benefits of market demand. New England's sector program has just begun, and it deserves time to work."

The full report can be viewed here.

the Fish Site Editor

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