Nature Shapes My Community

Nature Shapes My Community

fishing was kind of romantic when I started fishing you just went to the fish and game off as you bought your license you could fish whatever was available Morro Bay has been a fishing community since incorporation and long before the harbor has always been the heart of our community and it brought us some cultural aspect into of a of a working-class fishing village that you don't see much on the California coast anymore fishing is our heritage we've had fishing for 50 60 70 plus years before that even well this was just a picture of me when I was a 20 years old unloading rock cod when I first came here 1990 we I was really struck by the characters of the waterfront and everybody has a nickname and you know the slow Eddie and one trip Dave a steady and you always called the environmental groups eco wackos so we talked about the background of environmentalists and the fishing industry sort of always fighting each other you know you'll hear the fishing industry talk about corrupt environmental groups and you'll hear environmental groups talking about you know fishermen out there raping and pillaging our ocean resources well if you want to go work with fishermen if you want to go talk to him on his boat that sort of language isn't gonna get you very far at all the Nature Conservancy had a step back and take a look at the world from the perspective of the fishermen we heard what seemed like a crazy rumor at the time that some environmental group was trying to buy up a bunch of trawl permits in the Central Coast nobody liked it fishermen were always individual by nature you know they did their own thing when they felt like it so when I heard about that we got a hold of them and expressed some concern you might say I don't remember the first meeting being particularly warm and fuzzy in a small community like morro bay there's been over capitalization the fisheries economic performance its landings had really decreased dramatically between about the mid-90s to the early 2000s when the Nature Conservancy came into town things were kind of it at the bottom if you looked at their business practices over the course of several decades there hasn't been that much change and for a lot of reasons there's certain perverse incentives within management that are sort of hard to shake up I used to fish by myself on the boat there for a few years and the decline of albacore and salmon in this area the rockfish closures it wasn't going anywhere wasn't a situation where I wanted my kids to try and be involved I kind of had hoped that they would get other jobs and do other things being on the oceans a lot of work but at the same time I mean there's there's nothing better fishing was getting harder for guys to make a living and he steered me away from it and so a lot of these guys were looking to get out of the fishery they didn't see a very promising future here the train was getting ready to leave the station and I could stand around and scream about that was wrong or I could try and help you know make it to be where it would work for our community and so I met with Michael Dell and he discussed the program a little bit bill blue and I've been many times told that you know why are you working with the enemy in this day and age if you're a true fisherman you should definitely be thinking about how you can manage your resource to where it's there the next year and what we found was that the threat for marine biodiversity in the Central Coast was almost exclusively relying on bottom trawling the dragging of a large weighted net to catch fish on the sea floor in the course of fishing with bottom trawls what often happens is that you can drive down the stocks of some of those more vulnerable species they just can't withstand that kind of fishing pressure we did feel it had gone too far and we wanted to see what advantages there were to diversifying how he caught fish so one of the very simple things that we wanted to try was to take some of these permits that had always been used on bottom trawling boats and start putting them on boats that would be willing to use more selective ways of catching fish like hook and line trap fishing using that selective gear guys were catching fish and really premium quality condition and they started getting more money per pound if you took away our industry there's a lot of people that be out of a job people see this fishery project as a place where we're trying to work with communities to improve both its conservation and economic performance it's working because we're working together try to accomplish a common goal when you join today you'll help the Nature Conservancy achieve lasting results for both people and nature

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