He wipes his wet, fishy hands down the side of his pants, grabs a pencil and begins noting the amount, location and type of fish he’s caught that day. From there, this damp, smudged piece of paper is mailed to the state and waits to be entered into a database with thousands of others.
This is how Oregon’s marine fisheries are tracked, and it’s a problem.
“Imagine managing an industry based upon data that is a year old, or older,” said Marine and Coast Director Jena Carter. “Sometimes the data is also inaccurate or unusable. One accidentally transposed number and the fisherman may appear to be ocean fishing 300 miles inland.”
Modernizing this data collection is just one way Jena and her team hope to help improve Oregon fisheries in the coming five years. Working collaboratively with fisheries leaders, Jena and her team are hoping to modernize Oregon’s approach to marine fisheries management, design innovative fishing gear and explore market-based solutions that create incentives for conservation while getting Oregon’s healthy seafood from the ocean to people’s plates.
“This past year, we held 100 in-person meetings with a variety of Oregon fisheries leaders,” said Marine Fisheries Project Director Gway Kirchner. “We gathered their thoughts and ideas, and used that information to help guide the development of our fishery projects. All of our meetings were very positive. People were really happy to be involved.”
Oregon’s fish get exported globally and have a large economic impact locally. Oregon commercial fishermen harvest over 246 million pounds of fish and shellfish annually and sport fishers make 514,000 fishing trips to the coast. A new program for the Oregon chapter, fisheries management is a major part of our conservation work along the Oregon Coast.
“The fishing industry is very interested in making progress toward a positive future,” Jena said. “The Nature Conservancy is excited to be part of the vision for sustainable fisheries.”