The Trinidad focus group discussion on October 27, 2020 included three community members from a range of commercial fisheries. Participants provided their perspectives on MPA outcomes and the health and well-being of Trinidad’s commercial fishing community, including environmental conditions, markets, infrastructure, and social relationships. A synthesis of these perspectives is captured below.
Participants believed MPAs inhibit the ability for marine resources to thrive due to restrictions on fishing within the closures. They explained how not cultivating a resource disrupts overall ecosystem balance, and added that harvesting helps stimulate growth of younger species which contributes to overall population abundance. Regarding MPA management, monitoring, and enforcement, participants expressed an overall lack of communication with decision-makers and managers. They recalled the trauma associated with the “pennies exercise” where they were instructed by researchers to share their most valuable fishing locations, resulting in MPAs being designated in areas that fishermen identified as economically important to their fishing businesses.
”As long as I’ve ever fished in Trinidad, we’ve always had a buyer. Every time I’ve gone to sell my crab, we’ve never not had a buyer. Our crabs are desired on the West Coast for all the buyers. And [. . .] there’s a lot of big players that come to fish right outside of Trinidad – big boats from all over the place come fish right there.”
“If you can show me a stronger port [than Trinidad], I’d like to see it, because we’re as tight as they get.”
“I think things are in pretty good shape. The biomass on the anchovies is pretty seriously thick, as is squid, as is albacore tuna. We don’t know about the bottomfish because they’re not being targeted that hard because of quotas, black cod – same deal on quotas. [. . .] Things seem balanced to me.”
“You ask us what’s going on in the MPAs… we can’t fish in MPAs. How are we supposed to really give you a straight up answer?”
“There’s stories of the Yurok People [taking canoes out to] Reading Rock to fish and to harvest sea life [. . .] So that place has been fished for hundreds and hundreds and thousands of years… until just recently.”
“I put ‘Very Weak’ and I wish there was one [option] even lower than that, because I think [CDFW] talk the talk but, ultimately, I believe their goal is the demise of the [fishing] industry. And so I think ‘Very Weak’ doesn’t even state what the real situation is: it’s hostile.”
Top image: Recreational fishing vessels at a loading dock. Credit: Cheryl Chen