Sustainability is an ever-present part of the thought process for commercial fishermen when selecting new gear, targeting certain fishing grounds, and making decisions about the future of these multi-generational businesses. After all, without sustainability, future generations won’t have a fishing business to take over.
According to NOAA, the United States is a leader in sustainable seafood. What exactly does that mean? You can read the full NOAA report, but we’ve also included a few highlights.
Our fishermen and those around the US abide by some of the strictest regulations in the world. That’s why, when you see so-called documentary films meant to stir up an anti-fishing sentiment, U.S. fisheries are seldom mentioned. Under the guidance of several laws, the industry is closely scrutinized and the result is a noteworthy reputation around the world.
Laws aren’t the only consideration. There are 10 national standards as well. According to NOAA, those standards are principles that must be followed in any fishery management plan to ensure sustainable and responsible fishery management. Overfishing, conservation, incidental catch, and the safety of human life are just a few of the items addressed in those national standards.
Managing fisheries is referred to as “dynamic” which is another way of saying – this stuff is constantly changing! NOAA’s report outlines all of the different aspects of fisheries management and describing all the moving parts as “robust” is an understatement. The same is true of our fishermen and others in affiliated industries. From changes in climate, to surviving the impacts of a global pandemic – the world of commercial fishing is ever-changing, but what doesn’t change is our commitment to sustainability.
There are plenty of examples of the commitment to sustainable fishing found through our region, but none are more compelling than the West Coast groundfish fishery and its rise from disaster status to certified sustainability. Plenty has been written about this success story, but a good summary is provided by the Environmental Defense Fund.