Sustainable Fishing

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quota share systems are an important tool to conserve fish stocks [news story, Sept. 22], but other steps are equally important. Key actions include following scientific recommendations for catch limits, catch monitoring, setting aside fish habitat and protecting forage fish.

In Alaska, where more than half the nation's seafood is landed -- more than 5 billion pounds annually -- we incorporate all these steps into management plans. As a result, none of our groundfish stocks are considered overfished. Major commercial fisheries such as those bringing in salmon, halibut and pollock are certified as sustainable.

These fisheries operate under a quota share system or other access limitation. Catch limits are set by scientists, harvests are closely monitored, and quotas are adhered to. Wide undersea swaths have been set aside to protect habitat. Fishery managers incorporate broad ecosystem concerns, such as protection for forage fish, in their plans.

I'm skeptical of alarmist predictions of a worldwide fishery collapse by 2048. If we incorporate scientific management actions such as those taken by Alaska, Iceland, New Zealand and others, I am confident we can ensure that our fisheries remain a sustainable part of the world's food supply.

DAVID BENTON

Executive Director

Marine Conservation Alliance

Juneau, Alaska


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