NAMA Launches the “Who Fishes Matters” Campaign

In New England, the groundfish fishery is transitioning into a new ‘Catch Share’ management system, with its promises to improve ecological stewardship of our oceans. However, we know that uncontrolled ‘Catch Share’ programs haven’t taken into account who actually fishes for our seafood. Instead, around the world Catch Shares have consolidated the fishing industry into monolithic, industrial scale, absentee owner fishing fleets. We believe this direction undermines communities, ecosystems, and our food system.

Why? Because experience in U.S. farm policy has taught us that uncontrolled consolidation results in large factory-scale farming operations driving out family farmers and degrading the environment, biodiversity, and security of the food system. It also destroys the fabric and vitality of farming communities. And now, if there's no call to action to do it differently, we can watch the same pattern repeated on the water.

Only six months into the new Catch Share program, the New England groundfish fleet is already seeing signs of consolidation into fewer and bigger operations. The costs associated with the transfer of fishing rights and trading of catch allowances is skyrocketing. This makes the fishery unaffordable to many family fishermen as well as new generations of young fishermen. The high cost of fishing rights favors those with the most money and resources thus resulting in the elimination of small and medium scale fishing boats who have a smaller footprint on the marine ecosystem and are better positioned to feed our local food systems. We saw this happen with farms in our land based food system; we won’t let it happen with fisheries and our marine based food system.

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