Port Orford is joining a network of 14 communities across the country that are fighting to preserve their fishing industries under a new national policy.
The Obama administration has been pushing a switch in fisheries management to a system called catch shares. The system divvies up shares of the harvest among fishermen, who can lease and trade them as they please.
But fishermen in Port Orford say they were left out of the catch share system for groundfish. It launched last year on the West Coast.
Leesa Cobb leads a group of fishermen called the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team. She said the switch to catch shares threatens the future of her fishing community.
She explained, “We’ve looked at catch share programs around the U.S. and we certainly recognize this issue around consolidation and that catch shares end up being held in very specific places by a certain group of people – generally the people with the most money. So, we’re just worried that we won’t be able to fish outside our front door depending on how these fisheries are divvied up under catch share programs.”
A network of communities with similar concerns launched with members in Alaska, California, Massachusetts and Maine. One of their goals is to find ways for communities to buy shares of fish for local fishermen to use.