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


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Profit Over People Doesn't Help the Fish

By Megan Rynne, guest blogger
Boston MA

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Megan 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 am a New England Coastal resident, I care about working class families more than cost-cutting corporations who focus on only bottom-line and are blind to the resources from which they base their bottom-lines, and I respect the oceans and the marine life that support humans. I see consolidation as a problem because the big will get bigger and the fish will deplete and the autonomy of fishermen will disappear.

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: large corporate fishing boats be limited to specific areas separate from smaller fishing boats and fish caught locally by small boat fishermen be supported by marketing programs highlighting their local, small business, catch.

Thank you,
Megan Rynne

NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Megan for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Megan 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!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Consolidation Disproportionately Affects Smaller Communities


By Sara Randall, guest blogger
Bangor, Maine


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

To the New England Fisheries Management Council,

I am a native Mainer that is deeply concerned about the consolidation and loss of access that is occurring in New England’s smaller ports, especially Maine. I oppose the no‐action alternative "a" because the loss of fleet diversity is a major problem facing the industry and our coastal communities.

I am writing as a concerned citizen and supporter of fishermen and fishing communities. I gained an appreciation of commercial fishermen growing up in the small community of South Freeport, where, according to the Council’s data, a groundfish permit resided as late as 2004. As a resident of Maine, I like to buy my seafood as locally as possible. I fear that my fellow Mainers and I will no longer have this option if no action is taken to address the problem of consolidation. As it stands now, locally landed groundfish is conspicuously absent from many coastal communities.


Jonesport, Maine is amongst communities without access.
As consolidation disproportionately affects smaller communities, I would like the Council to take definite steps to preserve New England's fishing heritage through strong fleet diversity measures. These measures should be taken to ensure access stays with actual fishermen (not banks) so the economic benefits stay within the community.

I recommend a range of actions to address alternatives b – f, including the designation of inshore and offshore management areas as well as incentives for owner‐operator vessels. Permits should remain in certain length categories, such as 0‐50 ft., 50‐ 70 ft., and 70 ft. and above, similar to what was done in the groundfish management system of eastern Canada. I also support accumulation caps of 2‐5% for any one entity.

I also support former Council Member Dana Rice’s proposal. He suggests that as groundfish stocks recover, more entrants, including permit holders with no quota and new entrants, should be allowed into the fishery. Additionally, when a permit is sold a percentage of the quota should stay in the corresponding state’s permit bank. Fish are a public trust resource, and there should be provisions in place to ensure all fishermen, not just a select few, have continued access to the resource in order to sustain our coastal communities.

The bottom line is that the ocean is diverse and fishing fleets have always been diverse. I am hopeful that the NEFMC will take significant action to ensure diversity in New England’s groundfish fleet. Fleet diversity measures that ensure equitable access will lead to increased food security as well as economic stability for our New England communities. Fleet diversity will also ensure an adaptable and truly efficient groundfish fleet.

Thank you for your consideration.


NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Sara for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Sara 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!



Loss of Diversity Affects Food Chain Workers

By Joann Lo, guest blogger
Executive Director 
Food Chain Workers Alliance 

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

To the New England Fisheries Management Council, 

I am writing on behalf of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a national coalition of organizations representing 160,000 workers throughout the food system. More than a third of our membership is in the greater New York area into New England. 

I am writing to oppose the no-action alternative for Amendment 18 and urge the Council to consider every reasonable alternative in order to protect fleet diversity because the loss of fleet diversity is a major problem facing the New England fleet. Loss of fleet diversity affects our membership because many of the workers live in coastal communities and we all care about where our food comes from. We see consolidation as a problem because, as we have seen in land-based agricultural systems, consolidation has led to fewer farmers, ecological devastation, lower quality and unsafe food, and exploitation of workers. 

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 entrants. 
  • Limit the concentration of quota for any one entity. 


Joann Lo gives a talk at TEDxFruitvale on October 14, 2011 at Mills College in Oakland, CA

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 for your attention.


NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Joann for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Joann 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!


Loss of Fleet Diversity Impacts Me

By Anita Regan, guest blogger
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Anita 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 my family are fishermen, I live in a coastal community, I eat fish, I care where my food comes from. I see consolidation as a problem because:
  • 165 crew jobs were lost since 2010
  • Three entities control nearly 40% of the allowable catch for one fish stock (GB winter flounder)
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: 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 
entrants.

I also recommend that the Council explore the following potential solutions in order to achieve the goals: Establish leasing and permit trading constraints that maintain affordability for smaller fishing operations and new entrants.

Thank you.


NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Anita for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Anita 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!

Fleet Diversity for a Local, Thriving, Sustainable New England Fishery

By Karen Masterson, guest blogger
Owner, nourish restaurant

Lexington, Massachusetts



Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Karen 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 express my support for fleet diversity and urge you to stand up for our New England fishing families and their communities. 

As a restaurant owner I am deeply committed to building relationships with the multitude of local farmers and producers who do the hard work of raising food in the challenging conditions of the New England growing season. That interest does not stop at the shore line. I want to know that the fish I am purchasing to offer our customers is not just a good choice for them to eat, but that my purchase of it is also supporting a fisherman/woman in our own communities. It is only through the relationships we forge with our own fishing communities that we truly create a local, thriving, sustainable New England fishery. 



Regards. 














NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Karen for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like 
Karen 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!

Don't Wait to Address Consolidation

By Brian Pearce, guest blogger 
Commercial fisherman

Danny Boy Fisheries
North Yarmouth, Maine

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

Dear Council:

I am writing to request that you support an immediate action on Amendment 18 to ensure a diverse fleet throughout New England and build accumulation limits into catch share management.

1. Accumulation limits – Before fleet diversity can be obtained accumulation limits must be addressed. In a business where there is zero possibility for new entrants, unless you have rich purchasing power, there must be disincentives for stockpiling quota. The desire to buy quota by those with hefty bank accounts has made it attractive for small business owner operators to exit the business at inflated prices. 


Brian's fishing boat
2. Fleet diversity – The small boat fleet in New England is shrinking quickly. Landings are down by boats < 50’ by percentage that inarguably suggest they are the victims in catch share management (since landings are up by boats greater than 50’). This didn’t happen under days at sea management because it was affordable for boats to lease within their size criteria.

3. Below are possible actions to reduce excessive accumulation and accomplish fleet diversity. 

  • Consider penalties for excessive leasing of quota, except where conservancy and affordable prices are the goal. 

  • Consider quota set asides for various geographic areas, boat sizes, gear types or date/seasons.
  • Permit holder to declare pre-season if you are going to fish or lease the quota. If you choose all lease out of quota, a percentage of the quota goes to set aside for permit banks or redistribution amongst the fleet.
  • If at the end of a fishing year a permit holder has quota left over, a percentage of that quota is deducted from the next fishing year and redistributed to permit banks.
Brian fishing with his dad many years ago.
Currently if a consumer purchases fish harvested by a New England fisherman, there is no certainty that the fisherman earned a cent. I think this can be addressed through accumulation limits and fleet diversity.

Catch shares as they are have taken the fish away from fisherman and given it to businessman. None of the fish that I leased in 2011 came from an active fisherman. There is a potential to take advantage of the lack of oversight with regards to these two issues, leaving fisherman with little quota to hardly make money after paying to lease fish. To wait to address these issues would be a mistake.

Regards.


NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Brian for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Brian 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!

Diversity Leads to Healthier Communities

Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau
Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator
Global Movements Program
WhyHunger 


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 
entrants. 
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.












NOTE FROM NAMA:
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!

Much is Lost With Consolidation

By Shannon Eldredge, guest blogger
Family weir business: Chatham Fisheries, Inc. 
Educator: Cape Cod Maritime Museum Board Member: NAMA & Women of Fishing Families


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

To the New England Fisheries Management Council,


Fleet diversity is an absolute must in order to sustain the fishing communities that fuel the economy of New England. I oppose no-action under A18 because of this reason. If the fleet continues toward a path of consolidation, JOBS will be LOST, infrastructure will fall giving way to coastal ghost towns, shore-side support industries will be negatively impacted (including marine service businesses, boat builders, ice making companies, rope & net suppliers), and a secure food system of local fish to its community will be essentially ERASED.

I care because I am an educator, teaching the importance of marine trades, small-boat sustainable fisheries, and bio-diversity in our oceans to children on Cape Cod.

Shannon gives testimony at an A18 public hearing in Hyannis, MA January 26, 2012


I care because I live in a fishing village, and my family owns & operates an off-loading facility that has seen a dramatic decline in activity over the last decade.


I care because I fished my way through college, and want children growing up in my community to have the opportunity to do the same, if not own a boat & permits to make a living from the sea, and provide for their own families as they grow & mature.

Shannon (left) and her family
I care because I EAT FISH that is caught by my hard-working friends, family and neighbors. Who these people are matters.

I recommend the council take into consideration the great number of people that will be affected by a few decision-makers--YOUR decisions. I recommend the council weigh the impacts on future generations in coastal communities. I recommend the council think about WHO caught the fish that lands on your dinner plate, in your community market.

When you make these decisions, picture in your mind what my community of Chatham, or Hyannis & Barnstable would look like if the fleet became increasingly consolidated. Include fleet diversity in A18 in order to prevent a wide-spread community economic depression across the New England coastline.

Thank you,

Shannon Eldredge 



NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Shannon for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Shannon 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!

Fleet Diversity is About Food Security

By Emily Becker
Membership Coordinator & Conference Planner
Community Food Security Coalition


Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Emily 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 my family lives on Cape Cod. I see consolidation as a problem because we care about where our food comes from and prefer to buy fish from owner-operators. We also want to preserve jobs and supporting our local fishermen.

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 entrants.
  • Limit the concentration of quota for any one entity.
Thank you.

NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Emily for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Emily 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!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

And the Fast Goes On

By Niaz Dorry
NAMA's Coordinating Director




It's day four of the Fast for Fair Food. All week nearly 150 people in Florida and many more outside – including me – have been fasting in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. You can visit the Fast’s website for photos, videos and updates about the happenings in Florida. The fasters have been holding vigils outside Publix’s headquarters, but getting a cold reception from Publix’s officials. Not surprising considering those with power have a hard time letting go of it. But the power of non-violence and grassroots organizing cannot be underestimated.
Fasters hold vigil at Publix

Speaking of power, I received countless words of support, encouragement and inspiration from many of you when I announced I'd be joining the fast. There is power in your support. Before there was social networking, people united in different ways including unseen spiritual and emotional ways. As Heather Atwood said in her blog about the fast “Imagine, emotionally uniting without a tweet?” Your words of encouragement have been a great unifying force. Thank you all, and you know who you are, for keeping me and all the fasters in mind.

One of those who sent words of encouragement was KG Kumar, a friend and fisheries advocate whom I've known through his work with the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers. In his email, he sent the following quote from Gandhi:

       "There can be no room for selfishness, anger, lack of faith or impatience 
        in a pure fast... Infinite patience, firm resolve, single-mindedness of purpose, 
        perfect calm, and no anger..."

This quote has played a critical role all week in keeping me focused on why I’m fasting. It has helped me focus differently when thinking about the opposition to our work for fleet diversity, for example. This week and the quote from Gandhi have really helped me set aside my reactions to all the rumors, accusations and misinformation going around about our intentions and to really focus on expressing the importance of our work. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t fasted, and if KG hadn’t forwarded that quote, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to let go of them.

Rumors, accusations and misinformation are, after all, selfish acts in and of themselves. Someone fearing a loss of power spreads them. And it’s just as easy to be selfish in return and want to protect ourselves as individuals. Often that only takes our attention away from the real work at hand and makes us focus on our egos instead.  The fast has helped me let go enough and not give the accusers any more power, and certainly not at the expense of diminishing our own light. It has cemented for me the fact that it's not about who is right, but what is right.

So the fast goes on, as does the struggle for fair food on land and on the water. But with much more clarity, patience and strength of purpose. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Support local economies and a healthier ecosystem

By Michelle Gottlieb, guest blogger
Co-Coordinator, Healthy Food in Healthcare
Health Care Without Harm

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

To the New England Fisheries Management Council,

We, Health Care Without Harm's Healthy Food in Healthcare Programs, 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 the network of hospitals we work with, who are engaged in efforts to purchase local and sustainable seafood. The healthcare sector understands that a diverse and local fleet is essential to implement this goal. Hospitals across the region have signed a Pledge to serve healthy and sustainable foods to their patients, and many of them recently gathered in Gloucester, MA to hear directly from fisherman about the challenges they face. Some of these hospitals are now exploring how they can purchase seafood through Community Supported Fisheries. Fleet consolidation and concentration of the rights to fish will undermine the efforts of the healthcare sector to support local fishing communities.

HCWH’s mission is to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To that end, we are working to implement ecologically sound and healthy alternatives to health care practices that pollute and contribute to disease. HCWH’s 440 member organizations represent an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups.

We recommend that the Council explore solutions that support local economies and a healthier ecosystem.
Thank you,


Michelle Gottlieb, MEM



NOTE FROM NAMA:
Thank you Michelle for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Michelle 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!
Michelle on the clams flats