The Fight Over Catch Shares Goes to the First Circuit Court of Appeals
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Boston, Mass. — “On September 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging Amendment 16, which created a federal catch share program for a number of very important fish populations including cod, haddock, and pollock, caught in the waters off of the east coast of the United States. Food & Water Watch, a national consumer group that advocates for sustainable seafood, is an “amicus curiae” or “friend of the court” for this case because of its direct impact on the way the entire nation gets its seafood.
“Food & Water Watch, believes this program has spurred massive consolidation of the fishing industry, granting preference to industrial-scale fishing operations that utilize environmentally destructive fishing practices over smaller-scale operations.
In its rush to push the program, the government also violated the law by ignoring that the program could only be implemented if approved by fishermen in a referendum. It also failed to adequately analyze the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the catch share program.
“Catch shares amount to an all-out attack on America’s fishermen and threaten the existence of fish as a shared public resource. They divvy up our nation’s fishery resources for the exclusive use by the biggest and fastest fishing operations and then allow corporations and banks to buy and sell these “shares” for profit. This turns the opportunity to go fishing into a commodity, requiring fishermen to buy shares before being able to go fishing. As has happened with family farms on land, the added costs push smaller-scale fishermen out of business and consolidate the industry, paving the way for industrial fishing methods that can destroy sensitive ocean habitats.
“While we are happy to have this day in court, we remain very concerned about the catch share program at the heart of this case and hope that fishermen are finally given the opportunity to vote.”
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
Contact: Rich Bindell, 202-683-2457, [email protected]