Small local fisheries and aquaculture play an important role in economy and food security

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO.org) lists among its priorities “Recognizing small-scale fisheries as a¬†fundamental contributor to poverty alleviation and food security“. While this concept is widely recognized in economic planning of third world countries, it is just as important in disadvantaged US seafood landing port communities.

Baysave is working to promote healthy, sustainable local aquaculture and fisheries industries in the rural and disadvantaged bayshore region of New Jersey on the Delaware Bay. The key to success in revitalization of this industry is the availability of high impact investment funds from angel investors with a vision to convert today’s low priced fishery and aquaculture assets into more productive facilities using technology that is already successfully employed in other places.

Success in this area isn’t ‘rocket science’. We know that the Delaware Bay crab and oyster industries are poised for sustainable long term expansion. This conclusion is based on observation of tenfold go twentyfold overall production increases in nearby Chesapeake Bay and Barnegat Bay. We simply need to align government permitting so that we can attract investment capital for infrastructure and business development. Unfortunately, New Jersey has a history of ineffective governance in this area and a political structure that resists change.

Small local fisheries and aquaculture remains dependent on two factors:

1) Ability to obtain state government permitting

2) Ability to attract investment funds

We remain committed to addressing these needs for the local bayshore community.

Sustainable fishing: bigger isn’t better

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This cartoon by Darrin Bell of The New Yorker illustrates the obsession we have with the false belief that¬† “bigger is better”. Our State of New Jersey and the Marine Fisheries Council have fallen into the trap that encourages recreational fishermen to harvest the largest breeding stock fish while throwing smaller ones back, often to die.

Our fisheries scientists know that this practice is unsustainable. Yet we as a society refuse to change it. Yet we are not alone. History provides plenty of example where denial of the facts led to extinction of species, even of humans. One thing we do know about extinction is that it happens more rapidly than anyone would have guessed. We are living dangerously when we focus on “bigger is better”.

Sustainable fishing depends on managing the harvest of smaller and more abundant juvenile fish. Large trophy fish should be protected, or at least should not be the target. There is no shame in that, and in fact should be promoted as a positive approach. I’ve been told directly by industry and government leaders that this practice won’t change in my lifetime no matter how loudly the scientific and environmental communities object.

We live in an age where ignoring and/or denying facts is popular. All I can do is to be a voice for the truth. I am individually committed to encouraging sustainable fisheries and my small business will do what it can to change the current culture of “bigger is better”.