National Fisherman

2008 Year in Review

A-changin' times

Individual fishing quotas have been around a long time: We've been discussing them — arguing about them, resisting them, and ultimately embracing them — for more than a decade.

Now they have become a fact of life. Some folks believe they are the ultimate outcome of a fishery management system that does not work. Others believe they are the best antidote for avaricious human nature.

Maybe, if we took away GPS and sonar and rockhoppers, we could, in a few years, go back to trying to get a big trip, as opposed to rounding up our quota.

But that isn't going to happen.

And when you look at what's going in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the world at large, the fisherman hasn't got it so bad.

There were some train wrecks in 2008, such as West Coast salmon and New England lobster prices, to say nothing of fuel prices everywhere, but there were some happy endings as well, fisheries from coast to coast in which landings held up or improved and prices ensured viability, if not great wealth.

On the East Coast, we saw fishermen and scientists getting together to make a case for an increased dogfish quotas. And, thanks to the same collaboration, we'll likely see another increase in summer flounder landings this year.

And in the North Pacific, the council has used the occasion of climatic change to ensure that as patterns of fish behavior change, a tradition of responsible stewardship will endure.

Welcome to National Fisherman's 2009 Yearbook. — Jerry Fraser

Check out the print issue for the year's top stories from each region, newsmakers and wacky fish tales.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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