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California fishing industry showing signs of rebound

February 18, 2013|By Shan Li
  • Geoff Bettencourt, owner of the fishing boat Moriah Lee, walks along a pier in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Geoff Bettencourt, owner of the fishing boat Moriah Lee, walks along a pier… (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press )

The California fishing industry appears to be on the upswing.

After overfishing and conservation efforts limited the catch for fishermen in recent years, those who ply the seas are now enjoying bigger hauls and raking in more profits, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Some fishermen who were initially skeptical of tighter regulations say they now see the benefit of the curbs, and towns along the Pacific Coast that depend on fishing are enjoying a rebound, the Associated Press reported.

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"A lot of people were losing money, and on average, the fleet as a whole was losing money," Frank Lockhart of the National Marine Fisheries Service told the AP. But "they were able to turn that around, and more people are making more money."

The West Coast groundfish fishery yielded $54 million in 2011, according to federal regulators, compared with a average of $38 million in the preceding five years.

A big part of those new regulations is a quota system known as "catch shares" that caps the number of fish that can be harvested without harming an area. The cap is divided into quotas for individual fishermen or fishing companies, who are allowed to catch their quota any time during the year.

That was a big departure from the previous system, when commercial fishermen were allowed to go fishing between certain dates but generally did not cap the amount they could catch.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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