NAMA Board Member
Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Ed by submitting your own comments in support of fleet diversity. Click here to learn how.
Dear New England Fisheries Management Council,
I am writing to support Amendment 18 and urge the Council to develop protections for fleet diversity.
We know how it all went wrong; over fishing, destructive gear, failure to protect spawning fish and spawning areas - these are the mistakes that contributed to today's relatively low abundance. I'm not interested in repeating these mistakes. I'm interested in creating and seizing the moment where it all starts to go right. Amendment 18 can be that moment. Fleet diversity measures provide opportunity to those who want to transcend the status quo and hold a stake in the successful future of sustainable groundfishing.
Today, small scale, more sustainable fishing operations are challenged by the fact that their fishery is increasingly less affordable. To begin with, the way quota was distributed was unfair and not in the interest of sustainability; those who historically caught the most fish, in other words, those most responsible for depleted fish stocks, were rewarded with the most quota.
When too few people control the right to fish, they are able to manipulate the cost of quota leasing to a point where those who own permits with significant quota, and lease to other fishermen, are the only ones who can make money. This modern form of marine sharecropping is a losing proposition. The everyday challenges that smaller scale fishermen face - high fuel prices, inconsistent fish prices, weather, etc. are increasingly compounded by the artificially high price of quota. Quota costs are continuing to rise because of speculative hoarding and trading of unfairly distributed fishing rights. In the same way that there are laws preventing businesses from forming monopolies, the amount of quota that a single person can control should be limited too. For this reason I strongly support quota accumulation caps.
|Map by NOAA and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries|
Today we are faced with a clear choice: Do we want to be the folks who stood by while the largest boats concentrated their fishing in small inshore areas and forced out the most sustainable and traditional operations out of business? Or, do we want to be the folks who stood up for independent fishermen - for small businesses that, as a result of what those who favor consolidation call "inefficiencies', generate the most prosperity for the most people per pound of fish harvested? We have the opportunity to bring common sense back into the realm of fisheries management, to foster a meaningful recovery of groundfish, and to return to the 'Good Old Days'. This is our moment, this is when we take the positive and meaningful steps toward rebuilding the 'Good Old Days'.
Video: Aboard the Rita B with Ed Snell
NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Ed for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Ed believes fleet diversity matters to recovering the fish, to submit your own comments as part of a public comment period. Click HERE for help on e-mailing comments. Every comment counts!