This is Pillar Harbor, in California’s Half Moon Bay. It exudes seaside charm but under the water’s surface is a problem. Kaufman: This is a fishery that was in collapsed in 2000; today they’re struggling to figure out how to make sustainable fisheries.
Only a few years ago, tensions ran high between local fishermen and environmental groups seeking to limit the damage of over fishing. Fitz: We didn’t know the difference in various environmental groups at that time. We just thought that they were all out for us.
One of the groups, the Nature Conservancy, to earn trust, agreed to buy up fishing permits and boats from anyone who wanted to sell. Now it leases them back to promote better fishing practices.
Fitz: The Nature Conservancy has proven to us over time that they didn’t want to come in and just bulldoze the fisheries. They had identified that the small family boats could be sustainable.
To become more sustainable, fishermen are using older and gentler technology like hook and line and Scottish seine nets. Man: So here’s the biggest, biggest gear on our front rope.decidedly rinky dink.
Bell: It’s a proven harvest methodology or way of catching fish that reduces by-catch. So it reduces the amount of unintended fish or species it catches. And it also has a very light touch on the seafloor bottom, reducing habitat impacts.
Fishermen are also using cutting edge tools like tablet computers. They’ll use them to break old taboos, they’re sharing information about where they find fish, especially seriously over-fished species, which if caught in large numbers can force a mandatory shut down of the fishery.
Fitz: We are sharing anything that we learn about over-fished species because it’s beneficial to anyone throughout the fleet to know okay, that’s a high risk zone. Having information to able to share like that in real time can be critical to keeping us all you know, going at times.