Trisha De Graaf is the Resource Coordinator for scallops in the Maine Department for Marine Resources. Trisha flew in from the States to participate in GAP2’s pioneering collaborative workshop on the Channel scallop fishery, held in Brixham in April, and offer her insights on scallop sustainability based on experiences in Maine.
To read tweets from the event: #GAP2scallops or @GAP2_Project. You can read the agenda here.
Working towards sustainability and profitability
Attending the Channel scallop fishery workshop in Brixham was a fantastic opportunity to engage a wide range of French and UK stakeholders on the topic of sustainable, profitable fisheries. I had the opportunity to convey the story of Maine’s transition of becoming a sustainable scallop fishery which includes the negotiations with industry as well as the challenges we had to overcome.
Changing the path of management of a fishery is not an easy task, but it’s one that is necessary if we are not to bankrupt our future – balancing the needs of today with those of tomorrow is a vital and worthwhile exercise. The best way to start the process is to start with open communications.
Lessons from Maine
The Maine fishery has invested heavily in improving scientific knowledge to inform a paradigm shift in management. This has underpinned our implementation of a new management approach which involves the use of spatial management, such as closed areas. We are currently looking at using rotational closures to rebuild the resource, while allowing a limited fishery to occur.
During the two day GAP2-led workshop in Brixham, industry members were at the table to learn and discuss ways forward for the valuable Channel scallop fishery and were able to share their ideas in an open forum. From our experience in Maine, having open and transparent discussions has led to the ability to formulate a direction that allows the industry maintain its livelihood while also achieving the goal of resource rebuilding and sustainability. In Maine we have seen the resource improve, resulting in higher landings and greater economic benefit to coastal communities. As such, it was really encouraging to hear many optimistic remarks about the potential to apply similar tools and thinking to the Channel – with the hope that the comparable improvements will be seen here in the near future.
Lessons to take home
It was great to hear how the UK Government has started efforts to engage industry on scientific research – this is something we would like to explore in the Maine scallop fishery. Using fishermen as data collectors presents us all with a huge opportunity to advance our knowledge of so many fisheries – particularly against a landscape of tight economic budgets – and to assist with making informed management decisions.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the ability to network, hear different perspectives as well as learn more about the different approaches used across the Channel fishery. It was also really encouraging to be asked so many detailed questions about our program and the possibility of applying components of it to the Channel fishery. I would like to thank everyone for their warm and friendly welcome and hospitality, the tour of the harbour – and great fish and chips!
For more information on the workshop, please contact Giles Bartlett, WWF, on: firstname.lastname@example.org or Katrina Borrow, Mindfully Wired Communications: email@example.com