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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

IFQ's (Catch Shares); Do They Work?

IFQ's (Catch Shares); Do They Work?

Under the direction of Dr. Jane Lubchenco’s NOAA, catch shares have become her Achilles' heel to most of the general public, Waterman, Charter Captains and recreational anglers, not to mention the trickle down economics in closing bait shops to boat builders. Then there are those to whom reflect her attitudes, having adopted IFQ's as a mechanism to make the nation's fisheries a sustainable resource, regardless to who it sinks. To this, there is still light at the end of the tunnel, according to a press-release of recent, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by the Lenfest Ocean Program, IFQ's can result in a more consistent - or stable - fishery but do not necessarily improve ecological conditions. It could be summed up with a statement by Dr. Tim Essington, of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington; "Many proponents of catch share programs presume that they improve the health of fisheries, but our research indicates a much different expectation: They work very well to avoid erratic swings. They generally do not lead to more fish to catch, as catch shares are one potential method for improving fisheries management, but we shouldn't expect these programs to be a panacea;” a term used figuratively as something intended to completely solve a large, multifaceted problem. NOAA, PEW and the EDF along with their working henchmen the Councils of the Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic all believe, Catch Shares are a one fix all solution, no matter the science that is or is not behind it, with a “ it and they will come” attitude! 
The Lenfest Ocean Study Program is the most current, in-depth, comprehensive catch share evaluation in North America today. In a nutshell, it stated that IFQ's or Catch Shares help stabilize swings in fish landings and populations, but do not result in larger fish populations. They then must be of benefit to the stakeholders but not to saving fish. This study, which was actually bought and paid for by the Pew Environment Group, was not to their hopes and was thus discarded like by-catch. The study evaluated 15 Catch share participants in the United States and Canada, looking at factors such as population fishing rate, status and landings. Comparisons between fisheries with IFQ's and without them were evaluated and before to after the implementation of a catch share to them. 

Brian Rothschild, of the University of Massachusetts School of Marine Technology and Science, was exasperated at NOAA in its adaptation of catch shares. At a fishing forum held in New Bedford, Mass., Rothschild publicize NOAA's decision to IFQ's as, “ this policy is adopted illegally and hurried along without proper planning and analysis. It is difficult to consider the catch share system as having any function other than economic allocation as its sole purpose,” he stated, according to the Gloucester Times. Continuing with thoughts pertaining to Magnuson-Stevens Brian Rothschild said “conservation and management measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose. Projecting this trajectory to the end of the fishing year places the crisis in bold relief as we translate these dry statistics into lost livelihoods and collapses of small businesses.”He also, at another time suggested that Catch Shares were an "experiment conceived in blithe ignorance that is on track to wreak unnecessary cultural, social and economic havoc.”

An example in answering the question of 'Do catch Shares work', might be in the letter sent from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in correlating the economic problems of the Northeast Groundfish catch share program to its reality; 10 percent of the boats had acquired 65 percent of the fishing revenue, while 90 percent of the boats shared the remaining 35 percent! Catch shares, which is a system that rations shares, or percentages of, in a total allowable catch to individual fishermen, have been used around the world, for years but before these catch shares came to be, economic feasibility studies were done for each and every affected area. IFQ's are generating controversy as to whether they lead to better environmental stewardship over the present systems in place or other fishery management options. As IFQ's are being put into place now, it is too quick, to fast, to soon without further study. One should never gamble with the environment because once you change something, it may take years to recover, if at all. There are ways to which IFQ's do work but not as an across the board solution. Tell your Congressman, Representative or news media that you are a voter. Fishing Politics is important to you and your 25 million brothers and if IFQ's are put into place without all points considered first, well, you lost my vote and someone out there is bound to listen!