eCatch Blog California fisherman. Photo © Bridget Besaw

Fishing's New Business Model

In California, we leased permits to fishermen who adopted new techniques that increased jobs, protected our coast and put high-quality seafood on the table. It’s now going global.

Local Solutions Scale Globally

With a goal of creating environmentally and economically sustainable fisheries, the Conservancy helped revolutionize the fishing industry off California's central coast. And now, the same sustainable fishing techniques that were proven successful in California are influencing fisheries in Maine, Indonesia and South America.

Sustainable Fisheries 

As part of a historic agreement to protect a 6,000-square-mile area off California's central coast—some four million undersea acres—the Conservancy took the entrepreneurial step of purchasing 13 federal trawling permits and six fishing boats from the declining fishery.

The permits and boats are leased to local fishermen interested in creating a more collaborative industry, field testing environmentally sensitive fishing gear and sharing catch information—something fishermen have traditionally been reluctant to do. Enter eCatch and the iPad.

Commercial fishermen are required to record the location, pounds and species of fish caught. Typically, these data are input on handwritten logs, and fishermen are required to submit these logs to the California Department of Fish & Game within one month of a trip. eCatch, a new app developed by The Nature Conservancy and fishermen, lets them load their catch data at sea on an iPad. Amassing a robust database, fishermen can share this information with each other in near real time, leading to a more profitable haul while allowing them to avoid areas with overfished species.

By partnering with us and each other, the fishermen are creating a hearty fishing industry; supporting a healthy marine environment; and providing fresh, local seafood for all Californians. And these techniques are influencing fisheries across the U.S. and around the world. 

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