|From: Litore Lapis||9/13/2007 3:49:42 PM|
|Wasted catches hit Europe's cod |
Radio 4's Costing the Earth
Despite cod stocks in UK waters being at risk, fishermen are being forced to throw thousands of tonnes back into the sea dead while Iceland, an important supplier to much of Western Europe, is cutting the amount of cod it catches because of concern over falling stocks.
Iceland has long been heralded as an example of sustainable fishing and the country relies on the industry more than any other state in the world.
The Icelandic fisheries are very good at the moment but we are taking measures to ensure this will continue to be so
Johann Sigurjonsson, Director of the Marine Research Institute
Perhaps this is why their government is prepared to take drastic action and unpopular measures to preserve the industry.
From this month Iceland's cod quotas have been slashed by a third because scientists say there has been a decline in young fish.
Johann Sigurjonsson, Director of the Marine Research Institute says it has been difficult to persuade the fishermen of the need.
"Perhaps the biggest difficulty is the Icelandic fisheries are very good at the moment but we are taking measures to ensure this will continue to be so. We believe it is important to make the spawning stock stronger both in volume and to secure a higher proportion of large females because they are more important in the reproductive capacity of stock. It is an important and difficult decision," he said.
Minister of Fisheries Einar Gudfinnson admits it has been controversial.
"Of course we will see boats tied up and some not fishing. Many will transfer their rights to others. We have listened to the advice of scientists generally but now we have taken it more seriously than ever before because of these strong warning lights. It will have negative implications politically and economically but we are sure it will have positive long-term effects," he explained.
Since 1983 the UK's white fish fleet has fallen by 70%
Over the last 20 years Western Europe and the UK in particular have become heavily dependent on Icelandic fish as stocks in EU waters have declined.
The impact on the UK and other Western European countries is likely to be a significant rise in the price of cod.
Managers at the Fishgate auction in Hull anticipate an increase of up to 20% over the next year, not only due to shorter supply but also competition from Spain and Portugal for their salted cod.
But there are also lessons from Iceland for the European Commission whose own attempts to preserve fish stocks have proven far less successful.
Since the introduction of the Common Fisheries Policy in 1983, the UK's white fish fleet has reduced by 70% while the UK's cod quota has reduced from more than 100,000 tonnes to just 18,000.
Other countries have also suffered big cuts. But stocks have failed to recover.
A recent report highlighted the problem that every year thousands of tonnes of cod are caught and then thrown back dead into the sea to comply with the rules of the European Commission's Common Fisheries Policy.
Fish which are undersize or exceed the permitted quota for particular species has to be thrown back into the sea but less than 1% of discarded fish survive so most is wasted.
Last year more than 8,000 tonnes of North Sea cod was discarded, that is more than 30% of the amount brought in and sold.
The UK cod quota is 18,000 tonnes
The report just released from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) shows that in "Subarea 7" - the English Channel, Western Approaches, Celtic and Irish Seas - 63% by number and 35% by weight of all fish caught are discarded.
Dr Joe Horwood, the chief scientist at CEFAS says:
"The large majority of cod thrown back are below the minimum landing size. This is set to deter fishermen from areas where small fish are but unfortunately small cod is found in many places so they will catch them.
"Certainly cod numbers would be significantly improved if we removed all discarding. The amount of cod discarded has been increasing as we have reined back on the size of the quota and so more marketable cod are thrown back as well. We would like an ideal balance between the size of the fleet catching cod and the size of the quota. Fishing effort has not been reduced to the level where we think it is necessary to deliver cod recovery at present."
The fishing industry agrees that the level of discard is an appalling waste.
"It really is a shocking waste. Not only are the fish killed unnecessarily - the economic value has been lost and the source of food to the consumer - but they are no longer there to reproduce so it is a double whammy. This is one of the fundamental failures of the cod recovery plan," says Doug Beveridge, assistant chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations.
Cod recovery plan
The EU is now beginning to look at how it might reduce its discard rate but the mixed nature of its waters mean it cannot be eliminated entirely.
The EC's fisheries policy has also been criticised for failing to follow the advice of its own scientists on limiting the catch for the different species.
But politics also plays a role in what is actually set according to former UK fisheries minister Elliot Morley.
More than 8,000 tonnes of North Sea cod was discarded in 2006
"Many fisheries ministers in EU countries are under pressure from their fishing industries who are not interested in the science. They often dispute it and all they are interested in is getting as much quota as possible and judge the success of the minister by the amount he brings back so a lot of pressure is on ministers to talk up quotas," he said.
A specific "cod recovery plan" was also brought in three years ago limiting the number of days cod fishermen had at sea but an EC report 'Fishing Opportunities 2008' published in June says the policy has not brought the expected improvements.
Introducing the report, Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said total allowable catches (TACs) have been "substantially higher than those recommended by scientists, by an average of between 42% and 57%".
He added: "This situation is aggravated by the fact that a number of TACs are, in practice, consistently overshot."
He said the problems "will have to be urgently resolved in order to return fish stocks to a healthier and more secure biological state".
Costing the Earth: Plenty More Fish in the Sea? is broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 13 September 2100BST, repeated Friday 14th at 1500BST.
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|From: S. maltophilia||1/15/2008 2:54:46 AM|
|January 15, 2008|
Europe’s Appetite for Seafood Propels Illegal Trade
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
LONDON — Walking at the Brixton market among the parrotfish, doctorfish and butterfish, Effa Edusie is surrounded by pieces of her childhood in Ghana. Caught the day before far off the coast of West Africa, they have been airfreighted to London for dinner.
Ms. Edusie’s relatives used to be fishermen. But no more. These fish are no longer caught by Africans.
On the underside of the waterlogged brown cardboard box that holds the snapper is the improbable red logo of the China National Fisheries Corporation, one of the largest suppliers of West African fish to Europe. Europe’s dinner tables are increasingly supplied by global fishing fleets, which are depleting the world’s oceans to feed the ravenous consumers who have become the most effective predators of fish.
Fish is now the most traded animal commodity on the planet, with about 100 million tons of wild and farmed fish sold each year. Europe has suddenly become the world’s largest market for fish, worth more than 14 billion euros, or about $22 billion a year. Europe’s appetite has grown as its native fish stocks have shrunk so that Europe now needs to import 60 percent of fish sold in the region, according to the European Union.
In Europe, the imbalance between supply and demand has led to a thriving illegal trade. Some 50 percent of the fish sold in the European Union originates in developing nations, and much of it is laundered like contraband, caught and shipped illegally beyond the limits of government quotas or treaties. The smuggling operation is well financed and sophisticated, carried out by large-scale mechanized fishing fleets able to sweep up more fish than ever, chasing threatened stocks from ocean to ocean.........
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|From: Litore Lapis||3/16/2008 3:57:11 AM|
Salmon fishing ban possible this year By SAMANTHA YOUNG, Associated Press Writer
Fri Mar 14, 11:05 PM ET
Federal fisheries managers took the first step Friday toward imposing what could be the strictest limits ever on West Coast salmon fishing amid a collapse of the central California chinook salmon fishery.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously adopted three options for sport and commercial fishing off the Pacific Coast, including an unprecedented complete shutdown of fishing off California and Oregon.
"This is a major disaster. We've never had one ever like this," council chairman Donald Hansen said after the vote. "It will have a major impact on California commercial fisheries for salmon, recreational fisheries, California charters."
The closest the council has come to halting all salmon fishing was 2006, when a decline in Northern California's Klamath River run forced severe restrictions on the number of fish caught.
The other options are severely limiting fishing, or hiring fisherman to catch and release salmon for scientific projects. Both those options would require the federal government to grant an emergency rule because the salmon numbers are so low.
The fishery council is expected to decide which action to take in April during its meeting in Seattle.
"I think the likeliest outcome this year is no one will put a hook in the water," said Humboldt County fisherman Dave Bitts, who was attending the weeklong meeting in Sacramento.
The Sacramento River chinook run is usually one of the most plentiful on the West Coast, providing the bulk of the fish caught by commercial trollers off California and Oregon.
But this year's returns — even with no fishing allowed — are expected to reach less than half the council's goal for spawning a new generation. It marks the third straight year of declines, and the outlook for next year is no better.
After years of declining salmon runs, few fishermen rely solely on salmon for a living.
Supplies of farm-raised fish and sockeye from Alaska are expected to remain plentiful in supermarkets and restaurants, but there will be few chinook. Also known as king salmon, they are the type of salmon most prized by chefs and sportsmen.
Many coastal communities that still have salmon fleets have yet to recover from long-standing downturns in fishing and timber.
"It's going to have a big effect on our coastal communities," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the San Francisco-based Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
It is the third straight year of hardship. In 2006, the season was curtailed to protect struggling chinook returns to the Klamath River in northern California. Last year, catches were poor despite a relatively open fishing season.
Congress authorized some aid for fishermen after the 2006 seasons, and California representatives are looking for more this year.
The council's action on Friday prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the governors of Oregon and Washington to urge the federal government to declare a resource disaster if the fisheries are closed or severely restricted. Such a declaration would make communities eligible for federal aid.
Closing fisheries in California and most of Oregon also could lead to higher salmon prices for restaurants and consumers who would be forced to buy Alaska-caught salmon instead of locally caught fish.
In most years, about 90 percent of wild chinook salmon caught off the California coast originate in the Sacramento River and its tributaries.
Only about 90,000 adult salmon returned to the Sacramento River and its tributaries to spawn last year, the second lowest number on record and well below the government's conservation goals, according to federal fishery regulators. That's down from 277,000 in 2006 and a record high of 804,000 in 2002.
Biologists predict this year's salmon returns could be even lower because the number of returning young male fish, known as "jacks," hit an all-time low last year. Only about 2,000 of them were recorded, which is far below the 40,000 counted in a typical year.
Other West Coast rivers also have seen declines in their salmon runs, though not as steep as California's Central Valley.
Experts are uncertain about what caused the collapse, pointing to dozens of factors.
Marine scientists blame an unusual weather pattern that triggered a collapse of the marine food web in 2005, the year most of this year's returning adults were entering the ocean as juveniles.
Fishermen, environmental groups and American Indians largely blame the salmon's troubles on poor water quality and water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
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|From: ~digs||3/31/2008 2:43:08 AM|
|Sitka fishermen strike herring mother lode|
How about a job grossing half a million bucks in 60 minutes?
That's what some commercial seine fishermen in Sitka scooped out of the water on Wednesday -- in the form of fatty, silvery Pacific herring.
The Sitka sac roe herring fishery is already legendary for netting megabucks in minutes, but that day's catch was still a shocker -- for fishermen, regulators and seafood processors.
Expecting healthy numbers of spawning fish, state biologists are allowing seiners to harvest a record-breaking amount of herring in Southeast Alaska's Sitka Sound this year -- 14,723 tons.
But in just two stunning hauls on Wednesday afternoon, the fishermen netted more than 10,000 tons of fish -- most of their quota.
At a price of $550 per ton of herring, that was at least a $5.5 million day.
Some eight to 10 boats each bulged their nets with 500 or more tons of Pacific herring in the first 30-minute opening, said Chip Treinen of Anchorage, a seine fisherman who participated in the fishery.
That's like hauling up several blue whales or fully-loaded 747s. Ordinary seine boats can't carry that much weight. The fish have to be pumped out of the nets while they are still in the water, he said.
The commercially-caught herring, which are also highly valued by Southeast Natives for their eggs, are exported to Japan for their roe.
About 50 permit holders jockeyed for a sweet spot on the water near Kruzof Island on Wednesday, fishermen and biologists said Friday.
But as usual, the big hauls were made by a few lucky boats. Treinen said he was one of the lucky ones but declined to reveal his total catch.
"For those of us who were in the area ... we were like kids in a candy store," he said.
The huge hauls were mainly due to the unique spot the herring chose to spawn, said Treinen, who has been involved in the Sitka herring fishery for about a dozen years.
Very dense schools of herring appeared in very shallow water next to Kruzof Island right before the fishery opened at 2:25 p.m., he said. Some of the crowded fish seemed to be dying -- they turned belly up in the water before the fishery opened, he said.
Because the fish were in shallow water, about three fathoms deep, they couldn't dive to try to escape the nets. "We could contain bigger sets than we've ever been able to contain before," Treinen said.
The state Department of Fish and Game wouldn't have allowed two fishery openings if managers realized how many fish were getting caught, according to Eric Coonradt, the department's assistant area manager for commercial fisheries in Sitka.
As it turns out, the concern wasn't about violating harvest levels. The main concern was the ability of processors to handle so much fresh herring, Coonradt said.
The massive amount of herring required extra work and coordination among seafood processors over the past few days, but everything worked out OK, said Jon Hickman, general manager for Sitka Sound Seafoods.
Some herring had to be sent to Canada for processing, he said.
In one day, the Sitka Sound herring fishery exceeded last year's gross earnings, garnered over nine days.
Last year, 50 permit holders, the majority of them Alaskans, earned $3.8 million -- an average of $107,709 per permit -- by catching 8,320 tons of herring.
Prices were lower last year -- about $465 per ton.
Participating in the fishery isn't cheap. Permits are worth about $283,000 this year, according to the state's Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.
A net to catch the herring is a $50,000 investment, according to Treinen.
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