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.
For the full summary of the Trinidad discussion, see this focus group summary. For more information on focus group participant recruitment selection criteria, see this recruitment process overview.
Participants identified marine resource health as a strength for the port of Trinidad. They explained how there is a sufficient abundance of Dungeness crab to support the port’s primary fishery. Participants also noted healthy biomass levels across species, including anchovy and tuna. Participants believed markets in Trinidad are especially strong due to the high desirability of Dungeness crab across the United States West Coast. Regarding social relationships, participants described the close, tight-knit fishing community and deep sense of place within Trinidad.
Participants were concerned about low salmon abundance in the Trinidad area and expressed disappointment that the state is not channeling more effort and resources into salmon hatchery efforts to help support salmon populations. When discussing future health of marine resources, participants identified concerns regarding management of the fisheries which they also related to fears surrounding uncertain fishery management conditions in California. They emphasized that compounding management restrictions, including salmon restrictions, elevated entanglement risks and area closures (i.e., MPAs) have negatively affected fishermen’s livelihoods and their ability to earn an income from fishing. Participants identified a net zero gain of new entrants into the local commercial fishing industry as a challenge, particularly due to new boat owners entering at the same rate as those that are retiring. Participants highlighted weak external relationships due to a lack of trust stemming from past interactions with groups external to the fishing community.
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