To the editor:
Once again, representatives in Congress are being attacked for suggesting common-sense precautions to slow the spread of catch shares management in our nation’s federal fisheries.
And once again, those attacks are based in, at best, deep misunderstandings and, at worst, deliberate obfuscations, about the effects of catch shares.
In the letter “Halt to catch shares would hurt fisheries” (the Times, Friday, April 26) Joseph Brannon of Frontiers for Freedom claims catch shares are good for local businesses and can ensure sustainability.
In reality, catch shares drive consolidation of the industry and result in significant job losses for small fishermen and their communities. They create unfair, private markets that drive small businesses into bankruptcy and turn our fish stocks into financial stocks to be bought and traded like on Wall Street. And catch shares fisheries load increased financial burdens onto fishermen, from leasing fees to monitoring fees, forcing more and more businesses under.
As the fishermen in New England can attest, catch share programs do nothing to prevent fisheries disasters, and their rigidity only makes the pain of stock failures worse on those who are trying hard to stay in an industry they love. With climate change driving inevitable change to our fishery ecosystems, rigidly defined catch shares systems are the last thing our fisheries need.
In fishery after fishery along our coasts, catch shares have privatized our natural resources, giving the wealth of our fish away to a privileged few while hamstringing our ability to ensure the long term health of our fisheries. It’s past time to take a break from this rush to give our fisheries away, and think about how to ensure both our fisheries and our fishermen are around for a long time to come.
Senior Policy Analyst
Food & Water Watch