John Gans

by:

posted in: Outdoor Economy

January 11, 2019

Certification is Part of Misleading PR Strategy for Destructive Menhaden Fishery

One company that undermines striped bass populations in the Atlantic is paying to put a blue ribbon on its harmful practices

Reduction fishing is the practice of “reducing” huge numbers of fish into oil and meal to be used in other products—primarily feed for other animals, like pets and farmed salmon. Perhaps it’s not a widely known term because reduction fishing is banned in states up and down the east coast, for decades in some places.

In fact, Virginia is the only state that continues to permit the last holdout of the reduction fishing industry in the Atlantic—a single company called Omega Protein, part of the Canadian-owned Cooke Inc.—to continue to fish for menhaden in this way.

The irony of taking forage fish out of the water that would naturally feed most of our ocean predators and grinding it up to feed farmed fish is not lost on anyone. And you don’t have to be a fisherman to understand that when you suck up the fish at the bottom of the food chain, everything else suffers. So, it should be no surprise that removing large quantities of menhaden has had  a negative impact on striped bass fishing.

Photo by Stephan Lowy.

The menhaden reduction fishing industry accounts for 80 percent of the coastwide catch of these important forage fish. At this level of menhaden harvest, the striped bass population has declined by as much as 30 percent. In fact, the latest stock assessment is likely to show that striped bass are overfished.

Despite perpetuating an antiquated practice that reduces biomass of other fish species in the Atlantic, Omega Protein has applied to have the menhaden fishery certified as “sustainable” by the Marine Stewardship Council, a private international institution. This certification is strictly a pay-to-play arrangement, and it could successfully put a blue ribbon on fishing practices that rob anglers of our sportfishing opportunities. MSC does not even know how many predators rely on menhaden for food to determine if the fishery can legitimately be considered sustainable. Nobody does.

Now, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission—the multi-state agency that sets catch limits on menhaden—is working to get to the bottom of this key question, largely because of the recent outcry from sportsmen and women about the impacts of reduction fishing on sportfish populations.

Since November 2017, the ASMFC has had a scientific team working on a model to account for menhaden’s critical role to sportfish like striped bass and the broader ecosystem. And the truth is that no one can certify that the menhaden fishery is “sustainable” until that question is answered.

But it’s likely that MSC will grant the certification, despite publishing in its own report that the health of the striped bass population is directly linked to menhaden. (They also solicited public feedback as part of their determination, which could be overwhelming.)

Instead of certifying that the Atlantic menhaden fishery as sustainable, MSC should be calling on the industry to substantially reduce its catch, so that predators like striped bass don’t take a hit from the removal of 30 percent of their forage base. Further, Congress should put a stop to reduction fishing in the federal waters of the Atlantic, at least until striped bass have recovered.

In the meantime, we’ll do whatever we can to support the fisheries managers at the ASMFC in their efforts to analyze the actual impacts of reduction fishing of menhaden.

 

Top photo by Stephan Lowy

4 Responses to “Certification is Part of Misleading PR Strategy for Destructive Menhaden Fishery”

  1. Hugh Carola

    In New Jersey we’ve led the fight against reduction boats. Groups like Hudson River Fishermens Assn., Jersey Coast Anglers Assn., Clean Ocean Action, American Littoral Society fought for years to both end the reduction fishery AND ensure the Striped Bass were classified as a game species ONLY. As a result, coastal NJ has some of the best striper fishing in America. Don’t take my word for it – Salt Water Angler magazine regulalry lists us as THE place for prime striper action. Our fellow sportsmen in VA MAST step up and do what the rest of us have done from Maine to Florida: END commercial explotation of Menhaden!

  2. LEE ROBBINS

    I am a third generation Menhaden Fisherman and have been fishing the East Coast for well over 37 years. I am out on the Coastal waters 5-6 days a week from May to December.There are more Menhaden up and down the Coast and in the inland waters than I have ever seen. This is just another attempt to put a Commercial Industry out of business.The Menhaden Reduction Industry is one of the most closely regulated fishery in the US in not the World.

  3. Garth Walker

    MSC is a marketing company, they receive 15 million from Omega Protein for the stamp. I met with SAI certification company that MSC uses to do their process. A public and transparent meeting was 3 SAI employees and 3 Sierra Club in a coffee shop by my house. I asked the SAI Certification group a few fundamental questions. 1-Do you take in account the 100 million pounds of bi-catch-answer from SAI-NO. 2-Do you get on the boats and watch them fish?-answer from SAI-NO. 3 Do you take in account the 170 Dolphin killed every year by menhaden boats? NO do not. 4. Are you going to certify them? yes for 5 percent of the annual Gross sales. Which comes to 15 million annually for the stamp. It is deception of the conscience purchasing public.

Do you have any thoughts on this post?

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Here’s How We Welcomed Lawmakers to a New Session of Congress

Our first major ask of the 116th Congress: End the shutdown and put the federal conservation workforce back to work

As freshmen lawmakers join seasoned veterans on Capitol Hill and the partial government shutdown becomes the longest in history, the TRCP is welcoming decision-makers to Washington with a bold message: Here’s what hunters and anglers need from you right now.

These are the top priorities we outlined for Congress in a letter to every office this week:

End the partial government shutdown. This must be the first priority of the 116th Congress. The ongoing government shutdown is having an outsized impact on our nation’s land management agencies and natural resources, as basic public access has been curtailed, and wildlife habitat restoration projects grind to a halt. There is no more urgent conservation issue than putting the people of the Department of the Interior, Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency back to work on behalf of the American people, and our fish and wildlife resources.

Recommit to public lands. The waning days of the 115th Congress saw time run out on a comprehensive public lands package that included reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and numerous sportsmen’s priorities. The 116th Congress should capitalize on this momentum by taking early action on that bipartisan and bicameral agreement.

Rebuild our nature-based infrastructure. Natural systems—like coastal barrier islands, wetlands, and intact flood plains—provide some of the most effective and durable solutions to reducing the impacts of large storm events and protecting public safety, natural resources, and homes and businesses. As Congress looks to invest in our national infrastructure, the value of our natural infrastructure should be reflected in new policy and funding.

Don’t ignore climate change. Climate change is altering migration patterns and mating seasons, stressing native species, and lengthening wildfire seasons. Sportsmen and women are often on the front lines to view these kinds of changes firsthand, and we recognize that climate challenges profoundly threaten the future of our traditions and the outdoor economy. Hunters and anglers look forward to being part of the conversation on addressing the issue of climate change and creating a solutions-based approach to managing carbon emissions.

Guard against significant cuts to conservation funding. Fiscal Year 2020 signals the end of the bipartisan budget agreement of 2018 and the potential return of budget sequestration, which will initiate across-the-board cuts to federal resource conservation and land management budgets. Congress must take action to avoid the return of drastic funding cuts for conservation programs that, in many cases, are already underfunded.

In the coming weeks and days, we will continue this conversation with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and develop ways we can partner to meet the needs of America’s hunters, anglers, and unique natural resources.

And we’ll be in touch with sportsmen and women, like you, when there are opportunities to apply pressure and hold policymakers accountable.

 

Photo by Whitney Potter

Kristyn Brady

January 2, 2019

House Reversed Rule That Made It Easier to Sell Off Public Lands

Lawmakers have undone a 2017 rule-change that was widely criticized by hunters and anglers concerned about the threat of public land transfer or disposal

This week, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership encouraged House lawmakers to reverse a 2017 measure that made it easier to transfer or sell off public lands.

“Considering the benefits they provide to local communities and the nation—including outdoor recreation opportunities, clean water, and abundant wildlife habitat—America’s public lands continue to increase in value,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Congress should not be in the business of finding new ways to get rid of our public lands, and we applaud measures proposed by House lawmakers that recognize public lands are national assets, worthy of conservation.”

In its first day in session, the House of the 116th Congress passed a rules package that did not include language widely criticized by hunters and anglers last Congress.

The original rule-change—made by a 40-vote margin on the first day of the 115th Congress—overturned a requirement under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules to offset the cost of any transfer of federal land that generated revenue for the U.S. Treasury, whether through energy extraction, logging, grazing, or other activities.

In other words, for the past two years, public lands—even those producing billions in revenue for the federal government—had no official value and thus were vulnerable in terms of possible transfer to the states. House rules passed on Thursday did not carry this provision forward.

Once again, if lawmakers want to give federal land to a state or local government or tribe, they have to account for that loss of revenue.

“This indicates that public lands are on firmer footing in the 116th Congress,” says Fosburgh. “We encourage all our lawmakers to restore or create policies that will help keep public lands in the public’s hands.”

This story was updated on January 4, 2019.

Guest Blogger Alycia Downs

December 14, 2018

How Fishing Guides Accelerated Everglades Restoration Efforts

As fishing guides, charter captains, and other small business owners share their stories, decision-makers get inspired to make conservation happen in South Florida

From the top of a poling platform in the Florida Keys, a fishing guide scans the flats for a slender outline or a silver flash, whispering instructions to an angler at the bow. “There’s one at ten o’clock. Drop it right in front him. Strip… faster, now…” The more precise the directions, the greater the chance of hooking into the targeted fish. Patience and perseverance are critical, especially when almost every element is outside of your control.

In a moment of such pure concentration, politics should be the furthest thing from the mind of a guide. The unfortunate reality, however, is that our unique experiences on the water—not to mention the livelihoods of countless outdoor recreation business owners in south Florida—are directly affected by decisions made every day in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

So, these days, the captain who guides you to bucket-list bonefish and tarpon is more likely to be tuned into, and willing to speak out about, the policy decisions that could threaten the future of recreational fishing here in the Everglades.

And it’s paying off for conservation.

Gathering the Guides

For decades now, water quality across Florida’s southern peninsula has declined, causing massive seagrass die-offs and toxic algal blooms. The consequences of this trend are dire: The state’s fishing, boating, real estate, and tourism industries, as well as the health of its residents, all depend on the quality of its water.

Citizen engagement on this issue had been lacking, and politicians at the state and federal level let opportunities to fix these problems slip away. This water crisis could have been fixed years ago with greater awareness of the problem and available solutions.

This realization, combined with the tangible economic impacts to charter fishing businesses, inspired guides like Captains Daniel Andrews and Chris Wittman to take leave of their skiffs and spend their time educating others about Florida’s water mismanagement issues and possible solutions. In 2016, they founded Captains for Clean Water, a non-profit that advocates for clean water and healthy estuaries.

They had no idea that they would be rallying the outdoor industry to the front lines of a decades-old fight.

Map courtesy of Everglades Foundation.
Action for the Everglades

Fast-forward to May 2018, when hundreds of anglers, business owners, and conservationists traveled to Washington, D.C., for the America’s Everglades Summit, a two-day event hosted by the Everglades Foundation. There, they took to the halls of the Capitol to make their voices heard.

“Our sense of urgency and the passion we share for this place, can only be felt in person,” says Captain Benny Blanco. “That’s why I made it a priority to show up and do whatever I could to convince decision-makers. My livelihood and the livelihoods of every South Florida guide hang in the balance. I think they can hear that in my voice.”

The group’s first request for Congress was to authorize the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act. This project will significantly reduce toxic discharges to Florida’s coasts and restore the flow of clean water to the Everglades, where it is needed.

Since then, the collective efforts of organizations like the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Captains for Clean Water have helped to bring anglers together and push lawmakers to pass WRDA with critical support for the Everglades. This is strong evidence that when our community unites, we win.

“Having the ability to move forward on the reservoir south of the lake means that we are one step closer to saving Florida Bay and the northern estuaries,” says Captain Josh Greer, a southwest Florida business owner and fishing guide, who encourages his customers to keep up the pressure on lawmakers. “If we can do that, guides like me can continue to make a living on the water. We need everyone to continue making noise and pushing the state and federal government for funding before we lose the Everglades for good.”

The Next Chapter

The effort to restore the Everglades is far from over, and attention now turns to providing federal funding for the EAA Reservoir. In 2019, Captains for Clean Water pledges to lead this charge, rallying supporters and working with elected officials to solve this critical issue.

With so much at stake, the time to act for Florida’s water quality and outdoor economy is now.

“Restoring flows to Florida Bay has never been more crucial,” says Blanco, “but we’ve never had more evidence that the voices of recreational fishermen can make an impact.”

 

Learn more and get involved at captainsforcleanwater.org.

 

Alycia Downs is the communications associate for Captains for Clean Water, a non-profit advocating for clean water and healthy estuaries. As an avid sportswoman, writer, and Southwest Florida native, she creates content for numerous organizations promoting tourism, conservation, fishing, and outdoor involvement. Downs can be found casting lines along the Gulf Coast, where she lives with her husband Mike. For more outdoor inspiration and to get in touch, visit tideandtale.com or follow her on Instagram @tideandtale.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana

Kim Jensen

by:

posted in: Outdoor Economy

December 10, 2018

Where Outdoor Recreation Ranks in Pennsylvania’s Economy

New research finds that hunting, fishing, biking, camping, and other activities drive $27 billion in statewide spending

A new economic study finds that outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania, including hunting and fishing, generated $26.9 billion in 2016—that’s $2.2 billion more than the construction industry. The state’s wealth of natural resources and rich outdoor traditions also supported more than 390,000 jobs, where Pennsylvanians earned $17 billion in salaries and wages.

The research, conducted by Southwick Associates for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, showed that 780,000 state residents hunted and 1.3 million went fishing in 2016. This group spent nearly $1.3 billion to pursue their passions, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs, $800 million in salaries and wages, and more than $300 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue.
Additionally, 370,000 jobs in Pennsylvania were supported by other outdoor recreation activities, including biking, camping, and off-roading.

“Economic activity generated by outdoor recreation is too powerful to ignore,” says Derek Eberly, Pennsylvania field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “That’s why our local, state, and federal decision-makers should prioritize legislation that helps conserve the fish and wildlife resources that outdoor recreation businesses rely on to employ and serve Pennsylvanians.”

The Growing Greener program is a good example. This important state program helps to preserve open spaces, improve working lands, and clean up abandoned mines that could endanger habitat. But the program has seen drastic budget cuts in recent years, from a budget of roughly $200 million per year in the mid-2000s to less than $60 million this year.

The TRCP and other groups plan to advocate for better investments in conservation through increased funding for this program and others in the state.

You can read the full report and methodology for the study here.

Top photo by Bob Travis via flickr.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

Learn More
Subscribe

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

You have Successfully Subscribed!