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Overfishing Opponent Wins Environment Prize


Jane Lubchenco addresses the opening session of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, ICCAT, in this Nov. 19, 2010 file photo.

Jane Lubchenco addresses the opening session of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, ICCAT, in this Nov. 19, 2010 file photo.

A leading American supporter of a method to prevent overfishing has won a major environmental prize. Jane Lubchenco served as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration between 2009 and 2013.

Ms. Lubchenco supported programs known as catch shares when she led the administration, also known as NOAA. Catch shares set maximum levels, or the largest amount, of fish that can be caught in a given area. Then the legally permitted catch is divided among fishermen.

Supporters say catch shares stop what they call a “race to the bottom.” In other words, fishermen try to catch as much as possible -- without considering the future of the fish population. With catch shares, fishermen’s takes increase as the population recovers and grows.

Jane Lubchenco credits these programs with strengthening fish populations in the United States.

“From 2000 to 2013, we went from having 92 overfished stocks to 40, and we went from having zero rebuilt stocks to 34. It gives us incredible hope that we can replicate those successes elsewhere and really end overfishing at the global scale.”

Critics say catch shares can force smaller fisherman out of the market. They say catch share programs also raise barriers to people just getting started in the industry.

Seventeen U.S. fisheries are in catch share programs, and more are in development.

Ms. Lubchenco will share the $200,000 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement with Madhav Gadgil of Goa University in India. Mr. Gadgil was recognized for involving local communities in environmental protection.

I’m Bob Doughty.

VOA’s Steve Baragona prepared and wrote this report. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

method n. the way something is done

prizen. something offered or won in a competition; something of value that one must work hard for

racen. a competition to decide who or what can move the fastest or is the best

future – n. time after now

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