“Dangerous Fishing May Be Endangered”

News with fins #5

We all know that commercial fishing is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.   One of the biggest reasons why it has such high injury, rescue and mortality rates is because until recently commercial fishing has operated as a kind of “derby-style race to catch fish as fast as possible’.   The result of this kind of practice is that as soon as the season opens, fisherman will work around the clock, and in severe weather conditions to make sure they get an adequate amount of the catch.

In 2001, NOAA adopted the idea of “catch shares’, and implemented it into several Pacific fisheries.   The idea was to “reduce competitive fishing pressure on overfished stocks’, but it has also resulted in a fundamental shift in the way fishermen are making decisions regarding risky fishing practices.   When each fleet is allotted a certain amount of the catch, a certain level of flexibility and stability is achieved, which allows the “fishermen to make a rational tradeoff in terms of risk and reward’, as opposed to occasionally risking life and limb to avoid being left out of the harvest.

The study notes that there was a staggering 79% drop in the number of vessels fishing on the highest wind days observed, after catch shares were enacted.   The US Coast Guard confirms the decrease in risky behaviors by stating that there has also been an “87% reduction in the rate of safety incidents’ in the sablefish fishery being studied.

NOAA has since decided to expand catch-shares to more Pacific fisheries, and hopefully the idea will mark a major shift from prior derby-style commercial fishing that has dominated the industry for centuries, to a more organized and safer catch share based commercial fishing industry.

Work Cited:

NOAA  Fisheries West Coast Region. “Dangerous Fishing May Be Endangered”. NOAA.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160218144948.htm

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