Tag Archives: Catch Shares

Fishing licences and quota on the West Coast are murky business

Being a commercial fish harvester is tough work. There are long hours, unpredictable seas and demanding physical conditions, not to mention the experience it takes to know where to drop the traps or cast a net..,, In the West Coast fisheries, a single licence may be exchanged for tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and quota transactions are worth tens of millions of dollars annually. However, the market for licences and quota is not transparent or tightly regulated.,,, As licences and quota concentrate in fewer hands they become out of reach for active harvesters. In turn, the socioeconomic fabric of Indigenous and coastal communities stretches and strains. A recent study by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans comes to similar conclusions. >click to read<16:31

Analysis of Commercial Fishing Licence, and Quota Values  – As at December 31, 2016 Prepared for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region >click to read<

How to wreck an industry – Catch shares lead to consolidation of Alaskan fisheries

A recent study documenting consolidation and specialization in Alaska’s fisheries over the past three decades illustrates a broader trend taking hold in coastal communities across the country. Catch share programs, a new fisheries management system, are turning fishing rights into tradable commodities, driving up the cost to fish and consolidating fishing rights into the hands of a few wealthy owners. For instance, in Alaska’s Bering Sea crab fishery, just four companies own 77 percent of the rights to fish a single crab species. >click to read<11:30

Our coastal communities are drowning, largely thanks to tradable quotas and licences.

British Columbia’s coastal communities, long dependent on fishing for their livelihoods, are in serious trouble: population down, youth retention down, incomes down, investment down, infrastructure down, health and well-being down. It’s now almost impossible for young people to enter the fishery because of the high cost of purchasing or leasing the Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) attached to most fishing licences. ITQs are permits to catch a certain quantity of fish, and can be freely traded or leased. Coastal communities that used to have dozens of fishermen now may have a handful at best. The boatbuilding, repair, and gear supply businesses are likewise disappearing.  How did this happen to our once prosperous coast?  East Coast, best coast?>click to read<12:32

Sweeping reforms to licences, quotas, and equal footing, Standing Committee urges massive overhaul

The committee is recommending sweeping changes to the way commercial fishing licences and quota are owned in B.C. to address concerns of monopolization — including quota ownership by foreign investors who might never have set foot on a fishing boat or in Canada — that has turned commercial fishing in B.C. into “a modern day feudal system.” While commercial fishermen in B.C. applaud the committee’s recommendations, it may not sit well with corporate owners such as Jimmy Pattison’s Canadian Fishing Company, which owns a significant amount of fish quota in B.C. >click to read<12:55

North Coast leaders celebrate report’s focus on independent fishers

North coast leaders are calling the sweeping recommendations of a Parliamentary committee a win for independent fishers. The all-party Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans released its study on the state of the West Coast fisheries May 7, recommending numerous changes to the Fisheries Act that aim is to lower financial barriers for those wanting to enter the profession, and limiting the number of licences held by any single group.,,, Bill C-68, adopted in June of last year, paved the way for an overhaul of the Fisheries Act, whereby the ministry considers not only ecology in its decisions, but the social and economic impacts on the communities dependant on the fishery. >click to read<19:39

Sweeping reforms to West Coast fisheries recommended

Canada’s West Coast fishery could be in for a sea change, if Parliament accepts and implements 20 recommendations being made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.,,, recommending sweeping changes to the way commercial fishing licences and quota are owned in B.C.,,, including quota ownership by foreign investors who may never have set foot on a fishing boat or in Canada – that has turned commercial fishing in B.C. into “a modern day feudal system.” “The direction that the industry is going is driving the independent harvester – the small boat fisherman, the Ma and Pa operations – out of business on the coast.” The ownership of licences and quota in B.C. is different from Atlantic Canada and Alaska, where the people who do the fishing – commercial boat owners – tend to own the licences and quota. >click to read<23:14

Privatize – Eliminate – Consolidate – Gloucester groundfish sectors consolidate

The decline of the region’s commercial groundfish industry has claimed another casualty — Gloucester-based Northeast Fishery Sector III. The sector, one of two Gloucester-based groundfish sectors within the original 16 commercial groundfish sectors approved by NOAA Fisheries in the 2010 transition to catch shares, will be deactivated for the upcoming 2019 fishing season. The reason: its exhausted roster of vessels and permits won’t financially support an active sector. >click to read<21:44

NPFMC takes first step toward rationalizing P-cod fishery

Pacific cod fishermen in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, one of the last remaining unrationalized federal fisheries in Alaska, may finally have to cross that bridge. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council passed a motion at its meeting Feb. 9 to take action on the Pacific cod fishery, which is facing a number of issues in abundance, processing and participation. Depending on public review and the council’s action at the next several meetings, the Pacific cod fishery could see significant changes to seasons, limits and vessel participation. The motion hinges around an analysis developed on the trawl catcher vessel fishery and releases Alternatives 1, 2, 3 and 6 for public review separate from the rest. Rationalization, also known as catch shares,,, >click to read<

Catch Shares – Costs rise while values fall; season starts uncertain during shutdown

Fishermen in Alaska who own catch shares of halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea crab will pay more to the federal government to cover 2018 management and enforcement costs for those fisheries. ,, “The value of the halibut fishery was down 24 percent year over year, while sablefish was down 21 percent,” Greene said, adding that the decreases stemmed primarily from lower dock prices. ,,, Fish shutdown shaft-Hundreds of boats that are gearing up for the January start of some of Alaska’s largest fisheries could be stuck at the docks due to the government shutdown battle between President Donald Trump and Senate Democrats. >click to read<14:40

Catching fish is the easy part, Quota system? Not so much

The Finlander is a 36-foot Northern Bay and one of two vessels operated by New England Fishmongers. On a good day, Finlander’s crew will haul in 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of fish, according to Capt. Tim Rider.,,, However, because Rider’s multi-species commercial fishing permit only allows him the ability to catch 103 pounds of cod a year, a quota the Finlander crew can hit in less than a day of fishing, Rider said he is forced to lease additional quota from other fisheries, many of whom are not actively fishing. Since cod quota is leased at between $3.25 and $3.50 per pound, Mondays big catch is virtually a wash.,,, Due to the quota system, Rider says he pays more than half of New England Fishmongers’ annual income to lease quota. >click to read<07:51

Don Cuddy: Sector reopenings benefit to New Bedford remains to be seen

The news emerged on July 19 that NOAA approved a plan that may now permit some New Bedford fishermen back to work. ,,,So while this decision is a small step forward for the groundfish industry here, it is not yet time to set the church bells ringing since the majority of the inactive quota is owned by inactive fishermen. When the catch share system was introduced in 2010 it gave all permit holders a slice of the pie- the “pie” being a share of the TAC, or total allowable catch, for the annual fishing year, which for groundfish begins on May 1. Individual allocations were based on a permit holder’s catch history over a ten-year period from 1998 to 2008, I believe it was. That effectively means all of the cod, haddock and flounder swimming around on Georges Bank, more than one hundred miles offshore, have someone’s name on their backs, similar to a herd of cattle,,, leased , sold, or traded,,, >click to read<20:53

Council for Sustainable Fishing – SAFMC Efforts to decrease the number of charter and headboats

Charter and headboat operators are now living one of these horror movies as the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council once again moves forward with limiting the number of for-hire snapper-grouper permits, this time through Snapper-Grouper Amendment 47. And now the SAFMC is not just talking about limiting the number of charter and headboats, they are now talking about decreasing the number. This has nothing to do with fishery sustainability. A limited-entry fishery is the first step toward a catch share fishery, one that will set up a “stock market” for permits. >click to read, comment<14:21

Canfisco hopes to defend quota system at Ottawa committee

Richmond-based Canfisco hopes to present to a new Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans examining West Coast fishery regulations come next February, at the latest. Rob Morley, vice-president, production and corporate development at Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco), told the Richmond News Monday that the present licensing and quota system so often criticized by the likes of independent fishers and environmental groups has merits. There is growing concern — including Liberal MP Ken Hardie, who requested the committee — that licenses and quotas are becoming too expensive to lease and prohibitively expensive to purchase. As such, capital-rich companies and investors are taking fishing profits from community-based fishers. >click to read<08:25

Offshore ‘slipper skippers’ and local monopolies target of new fishing industry study

If you have ever purchased fish at Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s a 50/50 chance the bulk of your money will make its way into the pockets of an investor, who may not even be able to pinpoint Steveston on a map. Such investors, both foreign and domestic, own government-issued quotas and licenses and lease them to fishers for a cut of the catch. Because profit margins for fishers are already razer thin, the extra costs of the quotas and licenses means young, new and independent fishers find it difficult to get a foothold in the industry. This regulatory system is being called into question by Fleetwood Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie. Fishers have long complained about the ownership structure of licences and individual transferable quotas (ITQs), or catch shares,,>click to read< 20:08

Graying of Alaska’s Fishing Fleet Puts Key Industry in Peril

Once known for its young guns, Alaska’s commercial fishing fleet is now full of graybeards. The average Alaska fisher is now older than 50, according to the University of Alaska’s Sea Grant program. That is a big change from 1975, when fishers under 40 held half of commercial fishing permits in rural Alaska.,,, At the heart of the problem, experts have concluded, is “rationalization,” the system that has transformed Alaska fisheries from an open-access free-for-all into tightly managed harvests governed by quota shares and “limited-entry” permits that must be inherited or purchased – with prices that can soar well above $100,000. >click to read< 09:00

Bering Sea Cod caught quickly – “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the shortest ever,”

The Bering Sea federal trawl cod fishery closed in what may be record time on Feb. 11, just 22 days after the Jan. 20 opener, according to National Marine Fisheries Service Biologist Krista Milani in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.,,, The North Pacific Fishery Management Program is now considering a plan to restrict the number of boats eligible to fish for cod in the Bering Sea. The fish council floated ideas to limit catcher vessel participation in the Bering Sea cod fishery, including controversial catch shares or individual fishing quotas, during a December meeting in Anchorage. >click to read< 15:00 

Fishing reforms set to proceed after NSW fisherman loses battle in Supreme Court

Mud crab fisherman Dean Elliott has lost his case against the New South Wales Government in a David and Goliath battle over reforms in the fishing industry. Mr Elliott, a commercial fisherman on the state’s mid-north coast, claimed the reforms were “unreasonable” and “capricious” and had left him without an occupation, and facing a loss of up to half a million dollars.,,, critical changes came into effect last year that will force many of them out of the industry.,, But Justice Stephen Rothman dismissed the case in the NSW Supreme Court today,,, >click to read< 19:31

A Famed Fishing Port Staggers as Its ‘Codfather’ Goes to Jail

Carlos Rafael, whose initials are emblazoned on boats all over this port city, boasted that his fishing empire was worth even more than official records showed.,,Fishermen, ice houses and shoreside suppliers who once did business with Mr. Rafael are anxious, as their own businesses have slowed or stopped. As Mr. Rafael sits in prison, having pleaded guilty to lying about his catches and smuggling cash out of the country, nearly two dozen of his boats have been barred from fishing for species like cod and haddock, grinding part of the centuries-old maritime economy in the nation’s most lucrative fishing port to a halt. >click to read< 16:45 

‘Cod is Dead’ uses New Bedford to highlight hurdles affecting fishermen

One of the first scenes in “Rotten: Cod is Dead” opens at night in the Port of New Bedford. Spotlights atop the fishing vessels light the area. A few belong to Carlos Rafael, noted by their green color and “CR” logo.,,, The hour long show looks beyond Rafael and focuses on catch shares in the New England Fishery. >click here to read< 19:05

EDF says Rotten gets it wrong about New England and catch shares – >click here to read

The government is what created Carlos Rafael

Bill Straus saw the writing on the wall years ago. In 2009 -eight years before Carlos Rafael went to prison – the representative of Bristol’s 10th District spoke out during the establishment of the current catch-share system in the Northeast fishery. And even with Rafael behind bars, Straus says the threat of another Codfather emerging is ever present. “The risk is still there,” Straus said. “And that’s why what comes out of the different remedies is so important. >click here to read< 22:52

John Bullard: SectorIX board’s failure to act stopped its fishing

For New Englanders, Atlantic cod is not just another fish. The Sacred Cod that hangs in the Massachusetts State House is a testament to the cod’s place in our culture and history. For centuries, we fished for cod, as we watched the stock decline, we tried various ways to protect the resource this is considered as much a birthright as a commodity. In 2009, the New England Fishery Management Council under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, agreed to try a system called “catch shares” which worked well on the West Coast. click here to read the op-ed 20:52 

What’s fair in breaking up the empire of ‘the Codfather’?

Randy Cushman, a fourth generation fisherman in Maine, knows what the crimes of Carlos Rafael cost him.,,, Rafael, whose downfall came after he boasted of his scheme to undercover IRS agents posing as Russian mobsters, is now serving a 46-month sentence in federal prison.,,,  Senator Elizabeth Warren fired off a letter in August warning of “needless, immense damage” if permits leave New Bedford. Governor Charlie Baker asked that the permits at least stay in Massachusetts. click here to read the story 07:16

Gold Coast prawn prices ‘highest in 35 years’ ahead of Christmas according to seafood shops

Seafood lovers have been told to brace for an expensive festive season with Gold Coast prawn prices already at a 35-year high at some retailers. The price of large king prawns, at $40 a kilogram, are already at Christmas peak levels.“I’ve never seen prices this high at this time of year,” said Tasman Star Seafoods co-owner Peter Duncombe. The price hike has been blamed on major reforms in the NSW commercial fishing industry have resulted in fewer prawn boats out on the water, a “fizzer” start to the season for trawlers, and a fallout from the devastating white spot disease which shut down Gold Coast prawn farms this year. click here to read the story 15:45

‘Lazy’ NSW fishing reforms breach ‘hierarchy of wealth’ test, fishing consultant says

Daryl Sykes now manages the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council, but has been involved with reforms in Queensland, Victoria and in Commonwealth waters as a member of the Australian Fish Management Authority. He said the reform model in NSW “didn’t look at the individual fishing businesses” and had ignored the “hierarchy of wealth” principles underpinning other reforms. He also said it was not based on science, was lazy in its approach, and had ignored widespread concern in the industry about the devastating impact it had on family fishing businesses. click here to read the story 19:03

Catch Shares – New Zealand’s fisheries quota management system: on an undeserved pedestal

In popular imagination, New Zealand’s fisheries management system is a globally recognised story of sustainability, reflecting a “clean and green” environmental ethos. Indeed, New Zealand’s fisheries have been ranked among the best managed in the world – an accolade based on the early and wholehearted adoption of a Quota Management System (QMS). This perception is echoed in a recently published article, but we take issue with the methodology and its conclusions. Claims that New Zealand’s QMS is an unmitigated success simply do not match the facts. click here to read the story 18:32

The Pie Analogy – Fleet consolidation and loss of fishing jobs a hot topic at MSA hearing

Senator Dan Sullivan brought his Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard to Soldotna on Wednesday for a hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. One theme was addressed by many of the dozen invited experts who testified. Fleet consolidation is a predictable outcome of limited access privilege fisheries, or LAPs in the acronym-filled parlance of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA. A limited access fishery is one that has been privatized in some way. For example, in the Bering Sea, the crab fishery was rationalized more than 10 years ago, resulting in a fleet today that is just a fraction the size it was before privatization.,,, In his testimony, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten asked that Congress not take any action that would further consolidation. click here to read the story 08:32

Fish pie – Everyone wants a piece

Representatives of the haves and have-nots of American ocean fisheries gathered in a packed college classroom here on Wednesday to offer Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, their ideas on what he could do with the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. The now 40-year-old federal fisheries legislation is the legacy of the late and revered Alaska Sen.Ted Stevens.,,, And there is no doubt the MSA has problems when it comes to dealing with recreational fishing. Anglers, charter-boat operators, commercial fishermen and environmental groups are at the moment all in a Gulf of Mexico scrum fighting over red snapper. It is in many ways a tussle that almost makes the long-running fish war in Cook Inlet look tame. click here to read the story 08:25

With plenty of fish in the sea, will there be anyone to catch them?

In 2003, Cohasset author Susan Playfair’s book, Vanishing Species, Saving the Fish, Sacrificing the Fishermen was one of the first pieces to raise the question of the viability of an under recognized species; New England fishermen. She outlined the harsh life that a fisherman endures by the very nature of their job; the most hazardous non-military occupation in the U.S. Playfair also pointed out that regulations where killing the fishermen more than any other factor. Unfortunately, the regulatory environment for fishermen is still a major challenge.,,,  It makes one wonder why anyone would want to become a fisherman. click here to read he op-ed 16:56

Brad Gentner: It’s time to rethink ‘catch shares’

Catch shares in marine fisheries is a concept unfamiliar to most people, and it is probably completely alien to most hunters and anglers in this country. It is a system of wildlife management that bestows some percentage of a public marine resource, like red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, to private businesses for free, to use and sell for their own profit. It was thought that by giving away ownership rights to individuals, the fishery would consolidate and ultimately become easier to manage. While the same number of fish would be caught, the benefits of funneling access to the resource through fewer entities was thought to remove some of the uncertainty in the industry and thus would be worth the price of privatizing a public resource for free. While catch shares are still the darling of some fisheries economists, there is a growing backlash against this management tool worldwide for a variety of reasons. At the heart of these complaints is fleet and wealth consolidation, extraction of public wealth for private profit, and failure to capitalize share-cost into production costs. click here to read the op-ed 21:46

CATCH SHARES – NOT A VIABLE OPTION FOR THE NORTHEAST

Theoretical constructs that might hold together logically and appear sound often quickly disintegrate in the atmosphere outside their esoteric bubble. This was certainly the case for catch shares or transferable quota management in the New England groundfishery. Catch shares in New England disintegrated almost upon entry. What are catch shares and where did they come from? Catch shares or the commoditization of the fish poundage to be caught, or the ownership of the “right” to harvest a certain portion of the government managers’ scientifically sanctioned total yearly catch, is a construct of “free market environmentalism” theory. The “enviropreneurs” or “enviro-capitalists” claim that ownership equals good stewardship, equals profitability. This privatization push is actually an idea of economics, claiming production “efficiency”, and not one of fishery conservation—although the sales pitch promotes this scheme as the answer to “overfishing”, and just in the nick of time. Click here to read the article 14:58