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Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Supports Evaluations of Catch Share Management Systems

PALO ALTO, Calif.--()--The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced today a grant for five years to MRAG Americas, Inc. for annual, objective, publicly available assessments of the performance of the New England and Pacific groundfish catch share systems. Findings from these assessments will be compared to projected results with respect to ecological, economic, and social goals. Additionally, the evaluation will assess performance of the catch share systems against these goals from a pre-implementation baseline through five years of operation.

“After a substantial amount of effort with our academic partners and consultations with stakeholders, regional councils, and NMFS to design an evaluation procedure, we look forward to putting our ideas in practice with this five-year program”

In 2010, groundfish sector management went into effect in New England, followed in 2011 by an Individual Transferable Quota program for the Pacific trawl groundfish fishery. For these catch share systems to be most effective, managers and industry need metrics to assess their performance and inform refinements, ultimately making the systems work better for fishermen and ensuring achievement of ecosystem objectives. The results of these evaluations will be useful to managers and others in guiding ongoing improvements to the two systems, and will inform catch shares in other places.

“We have international examples and research that demonstrate the ecological, economic, and social benefits of catch shares,” said Barry Gold, program director for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative. “Now we have an exciting opportunity to measure the performance of these new management systems as they are implemented on the water. With high quality and highly objective evaluations of the performance of catch shares over the next five years, we will learn whether or not these systems are working as intended and we can use that information, if needed, to mitigate unwanted consequences and ensure these systems work for fishermen and the ecosystems.”

The Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative identified MRAG through a competitive proposal process in 2010 to complete the first phase of this work, in which MRAG in partnership with academics and stakeholders in the two regions, including fishermen and fishery managers, designed an evaluation methodology. To inform the study and ensure objectivity, MRAG engaged a wide range of perspectives on the costs and benefits of catch shares, and also convened workshops with stakeholders in both New England and the West Coast. An executive summary of their recommendations, as well as reports from the regional meetings, can be found at www.mragamericas.com/2011/01/developing-a-methodology-and-indicators-for-evaluating-catch-share-programs/.

“After a substantial amount of effort with our academic partners and consultations with stakeholders, regional councils, and NMFS to design an evaluation procedure, we look forward to putting our ideas in practice with this five-year program,” commented Dr. Robert Trumble, Vice President of MRAG Americas. “In anticipation of beginning this work, we have begun coordination with NMFS and the Councils, and are confident of a productive collaboration with them.”

“As with any good management tool, careful evaluation will be critical to adapting and refining the catch share programs," said Dorothy Lowman, a consultant who serves on the Pacific Council. “Having an effective methodology for evaluation will help determine how best to meet the needs of the fisheries and communities that depend on them."

The grant of $2.7 million for five years announced today will support MRAG to assemble teams of scientists and researchers and implement the evaluation. Indicators will include ecological, economic, social/governance, and program design measures. The project team will synthesize indicators being collected through other efforts and complete targeted data collection. Annual reports on the work and findings will be publicly released, with a final report after five years.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal of the Marine Conservation Initiative is to achieve progress towards resilient and productive marine ecosystems in British Columbia, the U.S. West Coast, and New England by implementing comprehensive marine spatial planning and reforming fisheries management. For more information, please visit www.moore.org.

About MRAG Americas, Inc.

MRAG Americas is an independent consulting business dedicated to promoting responsible, rational and sustainable utilization of aquatic resources, with offices in St. Petersburg, Florida; Essex, Massachusetts; and Anchorage, Alaska. We undertake a diverse range of studies and projects that is ultimately focused on improving our ability to manage aquatic ecosystems and the resources and fisheries they support. Much of this work has a strong analytical basis using state of the art methodologies and novel approaches to underpin the advice and recommendations we provide to clients. For more information, please visit www.mragamericas.com.

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