Sunday, September 23, 2012

US Fin Bans - "Creative Solutions"?

Environmental groups have launched a global campaign to stop fishermen from slicing sharks’ fins off at sea before tossing the animals overboard to sink to slow deaths. But the push is ensnaring New England fishermen and processors, who take fins only from dead dogfish already landed for their meat.

“We agree . . . we don’t want sharks being killed only for their fins, but we aren’t doing that,’’ said Walinski, a slim 55-year old who goes out seven mornings a week in his 35-foot boat to catch his daily 3,000-pound quota of spiny dogfish. “Still, if we can’t sell the fins, we’d be done — there is such a fine margin to make money on dogfish.”

Markets have evolved for the fish and virtually every piece of a landed “dog” is used.
Its back meat is used in British fish and chips, its head as bait for lobster and crab, and the belly meat is sent to Germany to become a smoked delicacy known as schillerlocken. The small fins do not fetch a premium compared with other sharks’ fins, but they are the most valuable part of the dogfish.

The spiny dogfish recently became the first East Coast shark fishery to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, meaning it is well managed and the fish are caught in an environmentally friendly way. The certification is expected to help the dogfish sell better in Europe.

For Walinski and Marder, a solution needs to come soon:
They worry bans will become so common there will be few places from where they will be allowed to export fins.

“I know [environmental groups’] intentions are good,’’ said Marder. “But they are going to hurt hard-working people in Massachusetts.”

“We need a creative solution.”
That just can't be right can it.
Yes I know that the MSC certification is controversial; but the fishery is still light years ahead of what happens elsewhere! And as long as it is reasonably well managed and totally legal, the situation is simply not acceptable - not ethically but also not strategically, the latter because it will simply precipitate more law suits that have every chance of being successful.

So, what could the "creative solution" be?
I reiterate: get those fins certified and then, legalize them!
To cite myself, I see no reason whatsoever why the fins from those legal and sometimes even reputable food fisheries for Dogfish, Thresher, Mako or the Sharks that aliment the appetite for flake should not be used for that soup! 
Have those fins certified, document their provenience, brand them as sustainable and you may even succeed in selling them at a premium, much like, say, pole-caught Skipjack! 

And there is more!
If we're honest, smart and not simply unnecessarily dogmatic, we the conservationists should assist in achieving that goal! That way, we could establish an alternative and maybe start putting some pressure on the fin trade at large to start doing the same! That would be "creative" - no?
Yes there will be shenanigans - but it would certaily be better than the current situation where all fins are suspect.

Or not?


MPO said...

..."said Walinski, a slim 55-year old who goes out seven mornings a week in his 35-foot boat to catch his DAILY 3,000-pound quota of spiny dogfish"

This is just one guy.

Sustainable? God save us!


DaShark said...

And I cite.

DATES: This rule is effective June 21, 2012, through April 30, 2013.

NMFS is implementing the following specifications for the spiny dogfish fishery for the 2012 fishing year:
1. The spiny dogfish annual catch limit (ACL) is 44.737 million lb (20,292 mt);
2. The spiny dogfish commercial quota is 35.694 million lb (16,191 mt);
3. The spiny dogfish possession limit remains at 3,000 lb (1,361 kg) per trip.

Based on the percentage allocations specified in the FMP, quota Period 1 (May 1 through October 31) is allocated 20.667 million lb (9,374 mt), and quota Period 2 (November 1 through April 30) is allocated 15.027 million lb (6,816 mt).

The significant quota increase from fishing year 2011 quota, in conjunction with the status quo possession limit, should help avoid prolonged fishery closures, extend the fishing season, reduce regulatory discards, and maximize revenues for vessels that land spiny dogfish.

If you explore the document, you will find answers to various comments that the quotas should be higher, or lower.
One may differ with the conclusions but this is certainly a relatively well managed fishery in terms of accountability and transparency, and probably even sustainability - as I said, light years ahead of what is happening elsewhere.