From local fishermen to restaurants and supermarkets, America’s fisheries play a huge role in our economy and our way of life. But what happens when fisheries collapse? Some coastal communities could share their stories first hand. From cod to rockfish, we’ve seen dramatic declines in key fisheries when too many fish have been taken out of the water with too few fish left behind to reproduce. By the 1990s, many of our fisheries had collapsed or were on the brink.
“All management should be for the generation coming, not for the generation that’s here today. If all you can think about is your own next year’s payments instead of what your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have, then your grandchildren will have nothing to worry about: There won’t be anything left.”Alaska Fisherman
We didn’t need to learn that painful lesson again, and fishermen, policymakers, scientists and NGOs stepped up to develop the fisheries management practices we have now. Today, Ocean Conservancy is dedicated to continuing the fight towards sustainable fish populations.
Managing America’s Fisheries
Ocean Conservancy has worked for more than 20 years to support sustainable U.S. fisheries. We’re working closely with stakeholders to develop sustainable fishing plans that will preserve the industry, and the ecosystem, for generations to come.
One of our top priorities is defending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The results of the MSA show that sound science and long-term management are critical to the health of our fisheries, and we have a strong presence on the local, regional and national level in advocating for keeping the MSA strong.
We’re also looking forward to new management techniques and technologies. We advocate for the use of ecosystem-based fisheries management to consider the complex interactions of an environment to set catch limits, and in using new ecosystem models to make fisheries management easier, more adaptive and more effective.
The Future of Fisheries
As ocean temperatures rise, currents are shifting and many fish populations are chasing cooler waters further north. Generations of local fishermen are faced with the potential loss of their way of life, and entire ecosystems are impacted. But it’s not just the behavior of fish that’s changing.
Technology is changing the way we fish, and if we want to create sustainable fisheries for the future, we have to understand the top predators in the ecosystem – the fishermen!
Thanks to new computer modeling technology and a better understanding about what drives fisherman to make the decisions they do, we’re now able to pinpoint solutions that will keep our global fisheries strong and help local fishermen stay in business.
By fully understanding all of the complex factors that can impact the health of fish populations, we can prevent overfishing before it ever happens by developing management systems that work. That’s a win for wildlife, fishermen and our ocean.
Ocean Conservancy is partnering with some of the world’s top scientists to lead the way. Together, we’ve launched POSEIDON, an agent-based computer modeling approach that can better capture how individuals interact with the system, often in unintuitive ways. By working with local communities and fishermen to test the model across a wide range of fishery systems, we can begin to identify simple changes to our management approaches that really work for everyone.
Fisheries management has traditionally been approached by monitoring supply. In other words, calculating management needs one species at a time according to population size, impacts to habitat, and reproduction rates. With new agent-based and ecosystem computer models, we can predict how the behaviors of fishermen respond to changes in policy, the environment and market forces impact the demand side of the equation.
We’ll work collaboratively with international organizations and expert networks to sustainably manage fisheries worldwide. We’ll also lend our expertise to ensure that this agent-based tool is usable by decision-makers to shape policy and ensure sustainable fisheries for years to come.
At Ocean Conservancy we want to make sure that there are enough fish in the ocean to not only sustain wildlife in the marine ecosystem, but also to feed communities around the world. Above all, we are about working together with local communities, fishermen, governments and partners to develop solutions that are good for the environment and good for the economy.