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North Pacific Fisheries Offer Positive Model
"Sustainable management that protects habitat is a reality, organization says

February 15, 2004
Sunday - 12:50 am

Even while a dramatic press event Saturday sounded ominous warnings about oceans and sea life, the Marine Conservation Alliance (MCA) emphasized the hopeful example of the North Pacific Ocean, source of more than half the seafood consumed in the U.S., and a model of successful, science-based fisheries management.

"It's easy for some groups to despair in the face of sweeping, sky-is-falling generalizations about the health of the oceans while steadfastly ignoring considerable evidence to the contrary here in the North Pacific, MCA Executive Director Ron Clarke said. "The MCA's members are dedicated to managing fisheries and fish habitat to ensure both healthy fish stocks and sustainable, bountiful harvests and the practices in place here have a decades-long track record of achieving exactly that, Clarke said. "The news is far from gloomy.

In more than 25 years of regional council system management in the North Pacific, scientists have demonstrated no negative effects of fishing on essential fish habitat that are more than minimal and more than temporary, no groundfish species are overfished, bycatch and discard rates are low and getting lower, incidental catch of seabirds has been dramatically reduced, rationalization is eliminating the "race for fish, and the vessel monitoring and onboard observer programs are models of the industry.

Clarke attributed the success of North Pacific fisheries management to:

1. Science-based management decisions;
2. Conservative quotas limiting catch of targeted and non-targeted species;
3. Effective monitoring, enforcement, and on-board observers;
4. Rationalization of fisheries to reduce effort and bycatch, and increase utilization of marine resources;
5. Protection of fisheries-based communities;
6. Incorporating ecosystem-based management principles into Fishery Management Plans; and
7. An open, transparent public process where all stakeholders can participate.

A Seattle press briefing Saturday highlighted a call by advocacy groups and scientists for protection of deep-sea corals and sponges as critical elements of marine ecosystems. "Fishermen, more than most, are keenly aware of the importance of healthy marine habitat, Clarke said. "Healthy habitat produces strong fish stocks and viable fisheries. Luckily, the regional council management system makes science-driven management decisions geared to protect fish habitat. It's a model that could be applied to good effect around the world.

The MCA was established in 2001 by fishing associations, communities, Community Development Quota groups, harvesters, processors, and support sector businesses to promote the sustainable use of North Pacific marine resources by present and future generations.

Source of News Release:

Marine Conservation Alliance
Web Site


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