Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fisheries Management That Works

It should come to no surprise to you that America, and the World's, fisheries management has a pretty poor track record.

Particularly disheartening has been the recent failure to protect bluefin tuna under the CITES convention, which was seen by many as the last ditch effort.

There was good news this week for a change though. From the Chesapeake Bay comes the news that blue crab populations increased by 70% from 2008 to 2009. While the Bay itself still suffers from a myriad of pollution issues the bounce back for one of the Bay's iconic fisheries is welcome news.

You want to know what the difference was? Virginia finally banned the taking of pregnant female blue crabs during the winter.

To a large extent fisheries management is made much more difficult than it needs to be. If you catch all the pregnant females, the population will decrease dramatically and won't be able to recover, that shouldn't be hard to understand or figure out.

Admittedly, making sure that watermen don't lose their livelihood and protecting working waterfronts are also important considerations, but if we run out of fish then it ceases to matter whether regulations are popular or not or what level of hardship they impose.

The Bay saw great success with the complete moratorium on rockfish in the late 1980's which led to a fairly complete recovery and thriving commercial and recreational fisheries. With some luck the new crab rules, which are already proving effective, will be similarly successful in the long run.

You should also check out the 2009 Bay Barometer Report, they made videos to make it easier to digest.

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