Save America's Fisheries

America's fisheries are in serious trouble. Overfishing, wasteful bycatch and other threats are pushing our fisheries to the brink. Scientists can only say for sure that about 25% of U.S. fisheries are sustainable.

But there is hope: managing our fisheries with catch shares. Conservationists like catch shares because they protect and restore the public's ocean fishery resources. Fishermen are turning to catch shares because they increase profitability, wages, and safety.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is accepting public comments about catch shares.

Please let them know we need catch shares -- an innovative approach that helps fish and fishermen rebuild, recover and renew.
I am writing to support a new path forward for protecting our oceans and America's fishing heritage: NOAA's new catch share policy.

The current fisheries management system is failing struggling fishermen and the oceans. The current system has not controlled overfishing: today more than 50 federal stocks are overfished or undergoing overfishing. Scientists can only say for sure that about 25% of U.S. fisheries are sustainable. Thousands of fishing jobs have been lost as fisheries have declined under the current system. Fishing seasons are shrinking even as fishermen earn less money in a dangerous job.

Fishermen are turning to catch shares because they increase profitability, wages, and safety. Conservationists like catch shares because they protect and restore the public's ocean fishery resources. Transitioning to catch shares is essential for restoring productive fisheries, and realizing an estimated $2.2B increase in value.

This is the right policy at the right time. NOAA's policy builds on the significant work of fishermen, scientists, fishery managers, and NGOs to design and implement catch shares around the country. Catch shares have been implemented in over 300 fisheries around the world from New Zealand to Namibia to Norway, in fisheries large and small. Today there are over a dozen U.S. catch shares, with many more under development.

The alternative to fishery closures is catch shares. In order to end overfishing under conventional management, many valuable fisheries are facing huge closures or dwindling seasons, which will have devastating impacts on coastal communities. Catch shares will provide continued fishing, even as stocks recover, and will increase full-time employment and wages for fishermen.

Catch shares are not a one-size-fits-all management system. This approach allows for and encourages innovation, which sets it apart from conventional management. Well-designed catch shares can help new fishermen enter the fishery, and they can protect small-boat fishermen.

It's time to get down to the business of designing catch shares for the benefit of fishermen and fish alike, and that's why I support NOAA's catch share policy.
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