A fishing vessel returns to Moss Landing Harbor.


Supporting a Local Model for Sustainable Fisheries

Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust

Monterey Bay's fishing culture goes back as long as people have lived here. But even along the waterfront, many restaurants serve imported fish, while local fishermen export much of their catch.

That's because several critical pieces are missing from the local seafood supply chain. We're working with the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust to preserve our community's fishing legacy, improve the economic rewards for local fishermen, and give businesses and consumers more access to the sustainable seafood from our own blue backyard.

By 2000, due to a mix of factors, the West Coast groundfish fishery—including black cod, petrale sole, rockfish and sanddabs—had collapsed. Fish landings dwindled and supporting infrastructure shut down, dealing a heavy blow to local fishing families. By 2014, groundfish had rebounded to sustainable levels, thanks to collaborations between regulators, fishermen and conservation groups. But changes—including stricter regulations, a lack of seafood processors, fewer regional buyers and competition with cheaper foreign imports—made it harder for local fishermen to make a living.

Representatives from the Aquarium, the fishing industry, the city of Monterey and other community leaders founded the nonprofit Trust to revive the local fishing economy. The Trust works to keep fishing quota available to local boats, raise the value of sustainable Monterey Bay seafood and make it more accessible to locals.

Working together, the Aquarium and our partners are pursuing a triple bottom line: strong local economies, sustainable fisheries and a healthy ocean.

Local fisherman Calder Deyerle fishes for rockfish off the Big Sur coast.

Groundfish had rebounded to sustainable levels, thanks to collaborations between regulators, fishermen and conservation groups.

Reeling in a Major Cause of Whale Entanglement

Fresh Dungeness crab is a highlight of California cuisine—an indulgent taste of the sea. But this popular delicacy comes at a cost to ocean wildlife; crabbing gear is entangling whales with increasing frequency. In 2016 there were 71 reported whale entanglements along the U.S. West Coast, almost one-third of them due to the commercial crab fishery.

In light of new data, the Aquarium's Seafood Watch program initiated an update of its recommendation for Dungeness crab, currently rated a Good Alternative.

In Sacramento, the Aquarium supported passage of the Whale Protection and Crab Gear Retrieval Act. Thanks to this bill, local fishermen are now participating in a lost gear recovery project that helps reduce entanglements along the California coast—a win-win for both fishermen, and for whales.

Humpback whale breaching

Read more Global Fisheries & Aquaculture stories

Conservation & Science Report 2017 (PDF)

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  • © Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation