Larry Band opened the discussion with a bleak picture of the state of the world's fisheries, noting that the majority of the world′s stocks have been damaged. "The ocean is going to be a different ocean in 50 years," said J.R. Schubel, noting that the damage can be attributed to human actions causing oceans to be warmer, more acidic and less diverse biologically.
David Festa said overfishing also is devastating fish populations and blamed ineffective regulations, in part. Regulations narrow the length of the fishing season, which encourages fishing entities to maximize their catches during that window by employing far more boats, hooks and crews than the ecosystem can sustain.
Festa advocated the idea of "catch share" fisheries as a remedy. Quotas would limit the size of a fishing entity's annual catch, but the fishing season would be substantially longer. Festa said this would encourage fishing entities to be more responsible and would cause them to bring in their catches over longer periods of time, increasing the product's desirability and value.
David Crane agreed that catch share fisheries were a much-needed step that would benefit fishing entities and the ecosystem. "Nothing will work unless we come up with innovative ideas that solve the environmental problem but allow people to earn a great living," he said.
Jason Winship said the financial benefits of catch share programs are attractive to investors. "We do see a significant opportunity," he said. But while catch share fisheries offer significant potential, just 15 are in existence. The panel expressed hope that by 2030 the number of catch share fisheries might increase to 70.
The goal will require significant and early investments in fishing equipment and vehicles. "Money needs to come into fisheries ahead of catch shares taking place," Band said, explaining that improvements in the tools of the trade must take place before sustainable fishing can occur.
The panel agreed that the infusion of private capital into these enterprises will be essential to advancing this innovation in fishing. "We need capital to rationalize the fishing fleet," Band said.