Resource first, then profits

Whilst on holiday in Massachusetts recently, A BASS member met a commercial striped bass fisherman, who told him that Striped Bass are only allowed to be taken commercially by those with a commercial licence, and then only by hook & line.

The commercial season opened on 9th July and was closed on 26th August, when the allocation of 1.15 million pounds had been taken. The six weeks catches varied between 150,000 and 240,000 pounds.

The catches can ONLY be sold to licensed dealers, who have to report in to a central monitoring system twice daily!

Even then, this year’s catches exceeded the quota by about 15% and the excess will be deducted from the 2007 allocation.

How does this approach differ from the EU/UK approach? In many ways of course BUT the primary difference is that the entire management regime is focused on the RESOURCE rather than on fishermen’s livelihoods.

It is this approach that does the commercials the biggest favour of all, because whilst there are commercial fishers who would like to see the season extended, they realise that the ‘allocation’ (1.15 million pounds of striped bass) is based on the average annual landings between 1972 & 1979, which was the period of highest recorded landings (prior to the collapse).

Essentially, they now catch in 6 weeks what they use to take all year to catch, so the ‘profitability’ during that period is terrific. The rest of the year they can target other species, including shell fish, or go landscaping, or guiding sport anglers, or of course, go sport fishing themselves!