Lab Members Meet With Congressman Jared Huffman to Discuss Fishing Communities and Wind Energy

On Friday May 4th we had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Huffman and his staff to give him an update on the status of the Fishing Community Sustainability Project. We provided him a summary preliminary findings related to the strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for improvement in each port. Graduate students Wyatt Smith, Laura Casali, and Robert Dumouchel gave him updates about the status of the Humboldt Bay mariculture industry, the port of Shelter Cove, and port of Eureka respectively. Ciara Emery had the chance to discuss early proposals to develop off-shore wind energy resources of the coast of Humboldt County. He listened attentively and asked a lot of great questions

New Project: Developing Fishing Community Sustainability Plans on the California North Coast

Dr. Richmond’s HD Lab Received a grant for $271,225 from the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy program to fund a project to develop Fishing Community Sustainability Plans for Eureka and Shelter Cove. For more information you can refer to the HSU press release.

In addition detailed information about the project over time will be kept on the project website: www.humboldtfishplan.com

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The “Mosquito Fleet” of Shelter Cove out during a salmon opener.

The research team also received an additional $50,000 from the CSU Agricultural Research Institute to add a mariculture component to the Eureka planning process.

Fishing Community Sustainability Plans (CSPs) are a way for fishermen to have a direct impact on the future of their port and their industry. CSP planning is a process that involves working with stakeholders in fishing and waterfront activities to assess community needs and develop a list of recommendations to take to improve the sustainability of their ports. A key focus of the plan will be the commercial fishing industry but the process incorporates a wide range of waterfront interests including: commercial fishing, charter and recreational fishing, mariculture, fish buyers/processors, marina services, support industries, tourism, and local government. A CSP is a strategic document that will help the fishing community identify, communicate, and attain their goals for a stronger and more resilient future.  

If fishing communities want to be prosperous in the future they need to start planning today. The CSP process will help create community awareness while also providing a strategic roadmap which builds on current successes and prepares for future changes. Similar planning efforts in Morro Bay and Monterey have led to real benefits including increased fishing opportunities, infrastructure upgrades, and increased community cohesion.

Interviews and Impacts of Crab Fishery Closure

Post by EMP 510 Guest Bloggers: Teddy Masters, Lucy Cultura, Rodilei Silva Morais

The featured article in KQED News, “Dungeness Crab Season Stays Closed” by Adia White, discusses the impacts of this year’s closure of California’s Dungeness crab season – as a result of toxic contamination – on the livelihoods of crab fishermen and consumer confidence. Concerns over domoic acid, a neurotoxin linked to seizures and death in humans, has motivated the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department to shutdown the crab season for over three months. CrabPotsBoat

Fishermen invested in the Dungeness crab industry have faced large-scale losses to their seasonal revenues, forcing many to diversify their income. Some have had to rely on other less lucrative fisheries while others have had to find work unrelated to fisheries, ranging from Christmas tree farming to construction. The industry itself is worth approximately $60 million with the lion’s share of those profits accrued between the months of November and January. Because of this, the three month closure of the crab fishery has severely crippled the industry, prompting calls for federal relief funding to support those impacted.

Implications of the contamination and subsequent shutdown have extended to consumers. A reduction in the number of local fishermen as a result of the shutdown may lead to a proliferation in Dungeness crab imports to meet consumer demands. Such imports run the risk of being less fresh and caught less sustainably than their local counterparts. Further, perceptions of toxic contamination are likely to reduce consumer confidence in buying Dungeness crab products, at least for the near future.

This article draws on the interview as a method to unpack the human dimensions of the toxic contamination of California’s Dungeness and the shutdown of its fishing season. While interviewing is not directly referenced in text within the article itself, it is unlikely that the author would be able to elaborate on the struggles of crab fishermen or the effects of toxic contamination on consumer confidence and the crab industry without such a method.

Are We Prepared for Off-Shore Drilling in the Arctic? Because it’s coming.

Prirazlomnoye-rig-250A recent Yale Environment 360 article highlights some genuine concerns about our lack of preparedness for off-shore drilling in the Arctic. Russia, Canada, and the USA are making serious strides towards drilling in the Arctic but there are a number of concerns about whether countries and companies are ready to safely drill in the harsh environment of the Arctic. The article doesn’t touch much on the many issues that befell US attempts to conduct exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in 2012. The drilling program ran into numerous problems, including the grounding of one of their drilling rigs on Sitkalidak Island – part of Kodiak Island and near to the Alaska Native village of Old Harbor where we have conducted fisheries research. The Department of the Interior released a report that reviewed Shell’s 2012 Oil and Gas Exploration Program and it was not pretty.

“The company experienced major problems with its 2012 program, some of which have been well-publicized. Shell’s difficulties have raised serious questions regarding its ability to operate safely and responsibly in the challenging and unpredictable conditions offshore Alaska.”

“The review has confirmed that Shell entered the drilling season not fully prepared in terms of fabricating and testing certain critical systems and establishing the scope of its operational plans…Likewise additional problems encountered by Shell…also indicate serious deficiencies in Shell’s management of contractors, as well as its oversight and execution of operations in the extreme and unpredictable conditions offshore in Alaska.”

An oil spill in the Arctic could have devastating consequences for marine life, fisheries, and Alaska Native communities that reside in the area. It doesn’t sound like we are near prepared to do it safely.

CONTACT:
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Laurie Richmond
Department of Environmental Science & Management
Humboldt State University
1 Harspt St. Arcata, CA 95521
laurie.richmond[at]humboldt.edu
(707) 826-3202
Natural Resources Building Room 218