A recent study documenting consolidation and specialization in Alaska’s fisheries over the past three decades illustrates a broader trend taking hold in coastal communities across the country. Catch share programs, a new fisheries management system, are turning fishing rights into tradable commodities, driving up the cost to fish and consolidating fishing rights into the hands of a few wealthy owners. For instance, in Alaska’s Bering Sea crab fishery, just four companies own 77 percent of the rights to fish a single crab species.
Republicans claim the House version of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a.k.a. the fish bill, would strike “a proper balance between the biological needs of fish stocks and the economic needs of fishermen.” Environmentalists disagree. As the fight moves to the Senate, we look at five ways the House bill could damage fisheries management. (No paywall)
The House reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Act in a roll call vote on Wednesday. A multi-hour debate over the bill, which regulates fishing in federal waters, centered on its two controversial measures: weakening catch limits for several species of fish, and eliminating a 10-year deadline for fish stock rebuilding.