U.S. fishermen who work in New England, Alaska, the South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico traveled to Washington D.C. from 6 to 9 February, 2023, to call for reform of current catch-share programs through the Magnuson-Stevens Act – a revision of which is currently being negotiated by the U.S. Congress.
Catch shares, or limited-access fisheries, are management strategies that assign a proportion of a total allowable catch or quota to a shareholder who then has permission to harvest that amount. There are 17 catch-share programs in the U.S. regulating major fisheries, such as red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, pollock in Alaska, and scallops in New England.
“A big company can have a bunch of fishing rights, and they will lease out these rights so the fishermen have to pay rent to them. Basically, it creates a landlord-type situation,” North American Marine Alliance (NAMA) Media Coordinator Feini Yin said. “It disconnects access to the fishing rights themselves from the people who are actually out on the water and risking their lives on the boats.”