The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory

Community Supported Fisheries

William Smith, Nutrition 245, Spring 2012

Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are operations where fish are caught by fisherman using sustainable fishing practices, and transferred to local consumers through arranged upfront payments for scheduled seafood deliveries. CSFs are usually based on a catch-share model, and the idea comes from CSA programs. CSFs are relatively new; as of 2010 there were thirteen CSFs, 10 in New England, 2 in NC, and one in Nova.

The World’s Collapsing Fisheries

  • 85% of the world’s fisheries are being harvested at capacity or are in decline.
  • Over 30% of the commercially-caught fish in the U.S. (of those assessed) are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.
  • 11 of the 19 groundfish stocks in the Northeast are overfished or are experiencing overfishing.
  • Of 25 collapsed commercial species around the world, 40% still showed no recovery 15 years after their collapse.
  • Worldwide commercial harvesting capacity grew 8x faster than landings between 1970-1990.

Exploitation: under, moderately, fully, overfished, depleted, recovering

The Importance of Fish

  • 70% of marine catch is used directly for food.
  • Fish supplies an average of 25% of animal protein in developing countries, and up to 50% in some countries.
  • The FAO has declared that “declining commercially exploited fish populations are humanity’s greatest global resource problem.”
  • The World Bank and FAO estimate that losses due to inefficient fisheries at around $50 billion per year, from an industry that generates an estimate $500 billion in economic activity yearly.

What’s Responsible? The Culprits

Overexploitation, due to:

  • Inappropriate incentives
  • High demand for limited resources
  • Inadequate knowledge
  • Ineffective governance
  • Poverty
  • Natural environmental interactions

Subsidies: a 2003 study showed that of the estimated $25-29 billion in fish subsidies worldwide that year, $16 billion was used to enhance capacity.

Overstated Quotas: In Europe, fishery ministers usually set Total Allowable Catches (TACs) 15-30% higher than their advisors recommend.

Other contributors: coastal development, fertilizer & pesticide runoff, pathogens, freshwater flow modification, and climate change.

What are CSFs?

Four defining :

1. risk sharing

2. advance payment

3. direct connections to producers

4. increased sustainability

Main Goals: increase profits for local fishermen, provide high-quality seafood to interested customers, and direct engagement with consumers.

Benefits to fishermen: fish sell at premium over wholesale prices, provide a market outlet for species that have low values in traditional markets, and protect fisherman from price volatility.

Additionally, a CSF can be formed to allow the fishermen to capture profits associated with a larger portion of the marketing chain, including: processing, distribution, and retail.

Benefits to consumers: consumers have been found to value provenance, traceability, and short supply chains; so there is a market for those who value local, fresh, sustainable, high-quality

Disclaimer: CSFs are not presently likely to completely, fully, totally replace traditional markets for fisherman, but are a valuable supplement to their operations.

Instead of competing, cooperate to make more money and promote sustainable fisheries! 95% of Americans support protecting our fisheries!

How can CSFs help sustainability?

1. better protection of fish and the environment

2. increased long-term returns to harvesters

3. reduced fishing

A win-win scenario: better sustainability outcomes at a lower overall cost to

  • they provide fisherman with secure harvesting and territorial rights to fish, enabling fishers to have a sustainable flow of revenue with an enforceable right to exclude others.
  • the fisherman are interested in long-run conservation and bear the costs of exploitation, so they are prepared to invest their time to protect their flow of revenue.

CSFs create reduced fishing effort and equitable-rights based (incentive) management, but ecosystem protection is still needed to promote .

Therefore, Marine Reserves are a recommended addition to CSFs.

A necessary component to CSFs:

Marine Reserves

  • Increase size, abundance, diversity, productivity; this promotes resilience among fish populations.
  • Protected populations contain more and larger fish, so they can produce higher rates of offspring.
  • Reserves enhance surrounding fisheries by emigration of mature fish and juveniles and the export of eggs and offspring through ocean currents.

Mobile, temperate species: offshore reserves of 4000-7000 km squared have been proven effective

Coastal species: areas as small as a few to a few tens of square kilometers have been proven effective in recovering

Stocks of exploited species can increase 3-5x within 5-10 years of , and 2-3x in adjacent fishing.

1. Gloom and Doom? The Future of Marine Capture Fisheries

2. Fish, Fishers, and Fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean: Their Diversity and Status

3. Raising the “Sunken Billions”: Financing the Transition to Sustainable Fisheries

4. Incentive-based approaches to Sustainable Fisheries

5. Designing Marine Reserves for Fishery Management

6. The Role of Marine Reserves in Achieving Sustainable Fisheries

7. Effects of Marine Reserves on Adjacent Fisheries

8. Incentives, social-ecological feedbacks and European Fisheries

9. Direct market strategies: The Rise of Community Supported Fishery Programs

10. ACSF National Report 2009

Boulle, D., & van der Erst, R. (2005) Fish, Fishers, and Fisheries of the Western

Indian Ocean: Their Diversity and Status. Philosophical Transactions:

            Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 363, p.263-284.

This article contains information on the importance of marine fisheries to the developing countries of the Western Indian Ocean. It details the demise of the “orange roughy”, but also praises sustainable efforts along Africa’s east coast.

Brinson, A., & Rountree, B. (2011). The Rise of Community Supported Fishery

Programs. Marine Policy, Vol. 35, p.542-548.

doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2011.01.014

This article provides an in-depth analysis of CSFs. The authors analyze the goals and benefits of CSF programs. A brief history on the short life of CSFs and their inspiration from CSAs is also provided. Lastly, the authors conclude that there is a present consumer market from local, high-quality, sustainable seafood.

Garcia, S., & Grainger, R. (2005). Gloom and Doom? The Future of Marine Capture

Fisheries. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Vol. 360, p.21-46.

This article contains statistics concerning the current declining fisheries and resultant economic losses. It also indicates how valuable fish are as a major protein source in developing nations. Furthermore, it details how ecological, economic, and social factors are driving unsustainable fishing practices.

Grafton, R., & Turris, R. (2005). Incentive-based approaches to Sustainable Fisheries.

Aquat. Sci. Vol. 63, p.699-710.

doi: 10.1139/F05-247

This article designates inappropriate incentives and ineffective governance as the main factors contributing to unsustainable fisheries. It points out the negatives of an input approach to fisheries management, and instead proposes an ecosystem-based approach to protect fisheries. The article also discusses fishing co-ops and their potential benefits.

Meester, G., & Baker, E. (2004). Designing Marine Reserves for Fishery Management.

            Management Science, Vol. 50, p.1031-1043.

This article first details that the FAO considers overfishing to be humanity’s greatest global resource problem. It provides a status update of the health of the U.S. fisheries that have been assessed. It then looks at marine reserves in the Florida Keys and their success.

Osterblom, H. & Daw, T. (2011). Incentives, social-ecological feedbacks and

European Fisheries. Marine Policy, Vol. 35, p.568-574.

doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2011.01.018

The authors of this article are very harsh on the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for its failure to improve the health of fisheries. European fisheries practice is then compared to U.S. practices to demonstrate the weakness of the CFP in improving sustainability. The authors point to an increased focus on the ecological approach and reducing subsidies and overcapacity.

Rangely, R., & Davies, R. (2012). Raising the “Sunken Billions”: Financing the

Transition to Sustainable Fisheries. Marine Policy, Vol. 36, p.1044-1046.

doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2012.02.020

This article contains eye-opening statistics about the yearly economic losses due to inefficient fisheries. It also advocates for an ecosystem based sustainability approach. The article also points to subsidies as a principal driver of overfishing.

Roberts, C., & Hawkins, J. (2005). The Role of Marine Reserves in Achieving

Sustainable Fisheries. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Vol. 360,


This article strongly advocates for marine reserves as the only surefire way to ensure sustainability. The authors take the time to express the biological reasons for the positive effects of marine reserves on fish populations. It then examines and discounts various myths about marine reserves.

Roberts, C., & Hawkins, J. (2001). Effects of Marine Reserves on Adjacent Fisheries.

            Science, Vol. 294, p.1920-1923.

doi: 10.1126/science.294.5548.1920

This article details the immense success of a marine reserve in St. Lucia. The authors discuss how reserves have a positive impact on the fisheries around them. The Merritt Island National Refuge (marine reserve), was also studied and discovered that world-record size catches existed in higher frequencies directly adjacent to marine reserves.


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