Policy Memo on Sustainable Fishing


TO: Bill Blair, Town of Wrightsville Beach Mayor

FROM: Sheila Núñez, frequent visitor of Wrightsville Beach and US Environmental Politics and Policy student at Davidson College

SUBJECT: A plan to promote sustainable fishing in Wrightsville Beach

DATE: May 1, 2016

Fishing has been a part of Wrightsville Beach community members’ lifestyles since before the town’s incorporation in 1899.1 Families are often seen fishing together, and seafood is a common menu item in restaurants. With that being said, the oceans are being depleted. Although Wrightsville Beach is a small community, the town should set the standard of sustainable fishing. In order to sustain Wrightsville Beach’s environmental integrity and protect the waters and species for future generations, sustainable fishing practices must be enforced.

Sustainable Fishing Practices Are Crucial

  • Humans are severely overfishing.
    • Our oceans have suffered great depletion of biodiversity due to unsustainable fishing methods.
    • The global fishing fleet is 2-3 times larger than what the oceans can sustainably support.2
    • Ninety percent of the world’s fisheries are now fully exploited, over-exploited or have collapsed.3 commercial fishing methods.anced, reasonalbe e same low score as the “likely that you would like to maintain support from comme
  • Why does this matter?
    • Overfishing has social and economic repercussions.
    • At this rate, there will be no fish left to sustain coastal economies.
    • The ocean’s resources can slowly be rehabilitated.
  • What is sustainable fishing?
    • Sustainable fishing is a collection of commercial or subsistence fishing practices that maintain the population of fish and fish stocks.4
    • The Magnuson-Stevens Act (1976) has had a positive impact on preventing overfishing, rebuilding overfished stocks, increasing long-term economic and social benefits, and ensuring a safe and sustainable seafood supply.5
  • Preventing is better than finding a cure.
    • By incorporating sustainable fishing into the culture, Wrightsville Beach can ensure the longevity of its water and species.
  • What are your options?
    • Restricting unsustainable seafood use in restaurants
    • Banning unsustainable commercial fishing
    • **Educating residents on ways to consume sustainable seafood (high score in political feasibility, social implications, and environmental effects)

P.E.S.T Evaluation and Scoring

  • P.E.S.T(+ E) (political, economic, social, technological, plus environmental) framework offers a comprehensive way of appraising the benefits and drawbacks of each
  • Benefits > Drawbacks –> 3
  • Benefits=Drawbacks –> 2
  • Drawbacks > Benefits –> 1
  • More weight is given to the environmental and economic categories because they are the more relevant topics to this issue.
  • Political feasibility is important, too.
  • The best solution (educating residents) scored the highest.

Enforce Unsustainable Seafood Sanctions On Restaurants

  • Ban all unsustainable seafood from restaurants
  • Biggest benefit are the environmental implications –> 3
  • Political feasibility, economic, social, and technological benefits and drawbacks are about equal –> 2
  • Overall score –> 3. 

Ban Unsustainable Forms of Commercial Fishing

  • Environmental implications à 3
    • Acceptable practices: hook and lining, harpooning, traps, and trolling.6
      • Reduce by-catch(animals that are accidently trapped as a result of unsustainable fishing use)7
    • No major social implications –> 2
    • Scored low on economic and technological feasibility –> 1
      • Fishing companies would have to adapt to newer and/or more technological methods of fishing (could be expensive)
    • Scored low on political feasibility –> 1
      • Want to maintain support from commercial fishermen, especially because they help the local economy.
      • Score of 1.7 (same low score as the “do nothing” solution)


**Educate Residents On Sustainable Fishing**

  • Education one of the best ways of initiating change
    • Grassroots support successful
    • Resources available
      • Cell phone apps and websites such as www.seafoodwatch.org
    • Restaurants/ grocery stores more likely to sell sustainable fish if residents pressure them to provide sustainable seafood
    • Sustainable seafood cooking classes could be offered at the weekly farmer’s market
  • Campaign can be run through social media and on the town
  • Political feasibility, social impacts, and environmental impacts –> 3
    • Does not require any huge economic or social drawbacks, yet would instill positive environmental change
  • Overall score –> 6


Final Suggestion

Based on the aforementioned evidence, educating residents on sustainable seafood consumption is the most reasonable technique to maintain our healthy coast. Overall, the benefits of the education method outweigh the downsides: it scored the highest out of the four options.

Options Political Feasibility Economic Impacts Social Implications Technological/ Administrative Feasibility Environmental Implications Option Score (Weighted)
Do Nothing 2 1 2 2 1 1.7
Enforce unsustainable seafood sanctions in restaurants 2 2 2 2 3 2.3
Banning unsustainable forms of commercial fishing 1 1 2 1 3 1.7
Educate residents 3 2 3 2 3 2.6
Criteria weight 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.3


Works Cited

  1. Our History. Wrightsville Beach Museum of History (2015). Available at: http://wbmuseumofhistory.com/our-history/ (Accessed: 18 March 2016)
  2. World Wildlife Fund. Unsustainable Fishing. World Wildlife Fund. Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/problems/problems_fishing/ (Accessed: 18th March 2016)
  3. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Wild Seafood. Monterey Bay Aquarium. Available at: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ocean-issues/wild-seafood (Accessed: 19th March 2016)
  4. Society, N. G. & Society, N. G. Sustainable fishing. National Geographic Education (2012). Available at: http://education.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/sustainable-fishing/. (Accessed: 20th March 2016)
  5. Celebrating 40 Years of the Magnuson-Stevens Act: NOAA Fisheries. Available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2015/11/msa40.html. (Accessed: 18th March 2016)
  6. Sustainable fishing methods. Sunset Available at: http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/flavors-of-the-west/sustainable-fishing-methods. (Accessed: 19th March 2016)
  7. What is Bycatch? Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction. Available at: http://www.bycatch.org/about-bycatch. (Accessed: 21st March 2016)



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