At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Friday, March 9, 2012

Diversity Leads to Healthier Communities

Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau
Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator
Global Movements Program

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Tristan by submitting your own comments in support of fleet diversity. Click here to learn how

To the New England Fisheries Management Council,

I oppose the no-action alternative option under A18 because the loss of fleet diversity is a major problem facing the New England fleet. Loss of fleet diversity affects me because I grew up along the coast of Southern Maine, and I do not want to lose more of the already small fishing industry in the seacoast area. My town, York, Maine, has taken great lengths to preserve the local farming tradition, and I do not want to see the local fishermen put out of business because fishing regulations are out of my town’s jurisdiction.

I see consolidation as a problem because, in general, local economies keep wealth in communities and ensure that our neighbors prosper along with us. Local businesses are also better stewards of our natural resources than large, consolidated conglomerates. Finally, coastal communities are healthier and stronger when there are a diversity of careers and role models for young people; further consolidation in the fishing industry would make becoming a fisherman impossible and shrink job possibilities for many young people.

A range of actions can be implemented that can address alternatives B-F. I recommend that Amendment 18 include measures to achieve the following goals related to fleet diversity:

Prevent heavy concentration of fishing effort around inshore areas.
Foster an affordable fishery through incentive programs and leasing policies that do not disproportionately impact portions of the fleet including owner-operators, independently owned businesses, and potential new 
Limit the concentration of quota for any one entity. 

I also recommend that the Council explore the following potential solutions in order to achieve the goals:
  • Establish mechanisms to keep offshore boats offshore for example restrictions from fishing in multiple broad stock areas.
  • Establish quota set-aside programs to reward sectors that are able to meet certain benchmarks in order to promote fleet diversity.
  • Incentivize fishermen who are primarily owner-operators. Establish policies that ensure quota is fished by fishermen and not used solely as an investment tool. 
  • Dis-incentivize fishermen who decide to lease 100% of their quota.
  • Establish leasing and permit trading constraints that maintain affordability for smaller fishing operations and new entrants.
  • Establish leasing and permit trading rules that prevent consolidation into larger fishing operations.
  • Set PSC accumulation caps -e.g. somewhere between 2-5% for each species for any one entity.
Thank you.

Thank you Tristan for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Tristan believes fleet diversity matters, to submit your own comments as part of a public comment period. Click HERE for help on e-mail comments. Every comment counts!

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