Loss of Diversity Affects Food Chain Workers

By Joann Lo, guest blogger

Executive Director Food Chain Workers Alliance 

Note: This letter was addressed to New England fisheries decision-makers regarding Amendment 18 to the groundfish plan. We encourage everyone to join Michelle by submitting your own comments in support of fleet diversity. Click here to learn how.

To the New England Fisheries Management Council, 

I am writing on behalf of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a national coalition of organizations representing 160,000 workers throughout the food system. More than a third of our membership is in the greater New York area into New England. 

I am writing to oppose the no-action alternative for Amendment 18 and urge the Council to consider every reasonable alternative in order to protect fleet diversity because the loss of fleet diversity is a major problem facing the New England fleet. Loss of fleet diversity affects our membership because many of the workers live in coastal communities and we all care about where our food comes from. We see consolidation as a problem because, as we have seen in land-based agricultural systems, consolidation has led to fewer farmers, ecological devastation, lower quality and unsafe food, and exploitation of workers. 

A range of actions can be implemented that can address alternatives B-F. I recommend that Amendment 18 include measures to achieve the following goals related to fleet diversity: 

  • Prevent heavy concentration of fishing effort around inshore areas. 
  • Foster an affordable fishery through incentive programs and leasing policies that do not disproportionately impact portions of the fleet including owner-operators, independently owned businesses, and potential new entrants. 
  • Limit the concentration of quota for any one entity. 

Joann Lo gives a talk at TEDxFruitvale on October 14, 2011 at Mills College in Oakland, CA

I also recommend that the Council explore the following potential solutions in order to achieve the goals: 

  • Establish mechanisms to keep offshore boats offshore for example restrictions from fishing in multiple broad stock areas. 
  • Establish quota set-aside programs to reward sectors that are able to meet certain benchmarks in order to promote fleet diversity. 
  • Incentivize fishermen who are primarily owner-operators. 
  • Establish policies that ensure quota is fished by fishermen and not used solely as an investment tool. 
  • Dis-incentivize fishermen who decide to lease 100% of their quota. 
  • Establish leasing and permit trading constraints that maintain affordability for smaller fishing operations and new entrants.
  • Establish leasing and permit trading rules that prevent consolidation into larger fishing operations. 
  • Set PSC accumulation caps – e.g. somewhere between 2-5% for each species for any one entity.

Thank you for your attention.

Thank you Joann for sharing your comments. We encourage everyone who, like Joann believes fleet diversity matters, to submit your own comments as part of a public comment period. Click HERE for help on e-mail comments. Every comment counts!