Get Big or Get Out - NAMA Newsletter May 11, 2012

By Brett Tolley

NAMA's Community Organizer

A fisherman recently told me he paid $.80 per pound to lease fish quota, or the rights to catch fish. That same day he only got paid 60 cents per pound when he landed the fish at the dock.

He actually went into the red.

And the worst part, he said, was knowing how that fish would end up being sold somewhere for $8-15 per pound to a customer who would believe a large chunk of that price went into the fisherman's pocket. "They will never know I lost money to catch and deliver that fish," he said. I wish they knew because if they did know, I'm certain our policies and discussions about 'sustainably' caught fish would be quite different.

Family fishers increasingly feel the squeeze from all sides; markets that do not pay a price to cover the true cost of overhead, policies that place disproportionate hardships on the small and medium scale fishing operations, and unpredictable as weather stock assessments. All these challenges lead to shrinking profit margins, fishers taking on more risk and debt, and forcing many to either scale-up and catch more fish or sell out. If we are serious about protecting the ocean and rebuilding fish stocks scaling up is not the way.


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