Monterey Bay Community Secures $1 million in Fishing Rights from The Nature Conservancy

September 14, 2015

Monterey, CA – The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust today announced the successful acquisition of more than $1 million in commercial groundfish fishing quota from The Nature Conservancy, permanently securing these historic fishing rights for the long-term benefit of the Monterey Bay community.

The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust is a new nonprofit organization created to own and lease groundfish quota to local fishermen, while working to improve the economic and environmental performance of the fishery.

“Thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s contribution, the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust will be able to support our local, family-owned fishing businesses,” said David Crabbe, commercial fisherman and Board President of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust. “This will provide stability for our local ports and waterfront businesses, and it will ensure that future fishermen have access to this important fishery for years to come.”

In 2011, a new fishery management program, called catch shares, went into effect for 90 species of the West Coast groundfish fishery (such as sablefish, petrale sole, and rockfish). The program has achieved significant conservation goals, including reduced bycatch and discards. In 2014, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program upgraded 21 species from its “Avoid” list to a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” ranking, and the fishery earned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

However, since catch shares can be bought and sold, there is a risk they will be sold to large, well-capitalized businesses from outside of the region. Without local access to quota, small-scale fishermen would be unable to harvest groundfish out of Monterey Bay, and the community would miss out on the economic, social, and environmental benefits that result from a local, sustainably managed fishery. The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust will acquire groundfish quotas and hold them in trust for the community, helping keep long-time fishermen fishing, and ensuring a future for the next generation of fishermen.

“The Trust is part of a new model of community ownership that is growing here in California and is gaining traction across the country,” said Kate Kauer, fisheries project director for The Nature Conservancy in California. “This is a promising model that gives local leaders a forum to come up with solutions to fishery management challenges and protect the health of local resources.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, the City of Monterey, and community leaders, worked to establish the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust to guarantee a future for stable and sustainable fisheries and fishing communities in Monterey Bay. “Our future depends on the health of the ocean,” said Margaret Spring, the aquarium’s vice president of conservation and science and chief conservation officer. Spring also serves as vice president of the Fisheries Trust board. “We hope others in our community will contribute to the remarkable recovery of the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery by purchasing local, sustainably caught groundfish, and supporting this innovative effort to advance both economic opportunity and ocean conservation.”

The California Fisheries Fund (CFF), an innovative fisheries finance program and project of Environmental Defense Fund, provided the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust with a low-interest loan to purchase seed quota. CFF’s support, along with the support of other lenders and donors in the community, has allowed the Trust to purchase quotas for an array of popular groundfish species that are rebounding thanks to sound management.

“The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust has an unwavering commitment to maintaining Monterey Bay’s strong fishing heritage,” said Phoebe Higgins, CFF Director at Environmental Defense Fund. “CFF is fortunate to advance the mission of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust and its work to strengthen the long-term sustainability and viability of Monterey, an important and historic fishing town.”

While TNC’s quota (roughly 4.2 million annual quota pounds) is an important first step, the Trust will need to acquire more quota to support a diverse and resilient fishing industry and serve a three-port region. Last month, the Monterey City Council showed its commitment for rebuilding Monterey’s fishing economy by allocating $225,000 to purchase groundfish quota. With increased access to the groundfish fishery, the local community will have an opportunity to benefit from a profitable and sustainable fishery, which will help maintain the rich culture of commercial fishing in Monterey Bay.

About The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust

The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust is a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed at preserving and improving the historic groundfish fishery out of Monterey, Moss Landing, and Santa Cruz harbors in Central California. Visit the MBFT website at

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. For more information visit:

Press ReleaseDani Dunn