Enviros buy out trawlers in California bay

Attempting to conserve rapidly vanishing bottom-dwelling fish stocks off the central California coast, Environmental Defense and The Nature Conservancy have teamed with bottom-trawling fishers to create three “no-trawl zones” covering a total of nearly 6,000 square miles. In exchange for their endorsement, the fishers in California’s Morro Bay will get not only a healthier fishery, but for now, what many of them wanted anyway: a way out of the business. The conservation groups are buying the trawlers’ permits and boats — deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The agreement between the fishers and NGOs is now part of the official federal plan to aid Pacific Coast fishery recovery. If similar buyout deals go down in Monterey Bay and Half Moon Bay, TNC could soon be the largest holder of trawling permits on the West Coast. The group plans to lease about half the permits to fishers under tighter rules intended to make the catch more sustainable; the other half will go unused.