Written by Jen Finn
Commercial and recreational fishermen make common cause in Florida
By Hoyt Childers
Boat owner Jack Golden stood dockside in early afternoon at Madeira Beach (Fla.) Seafood and watched the crew unloading his longline vessel, Blackjack I. Skipper Herman Ellis had docked Blackjack I about noon with a hold full of red grouper and gag.
Two things were prominent in Golden's thoughts as he watched. The first was the pending approval of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's reef fish amendment 30B, comprising strict quotas for gag that could pretty much wipe out what's left of the gulf grouper fishery.
"If they pass that 45 percent reduction, we're done," Golden said. "The fish houses can't survive."
But the other, a seminal meeting of commercial, charter and recreational fishing leaders at a local restaurant later the same day, could change everything, he said.
"I think it's the best thing that ever happened," he said. "This could be a big thing. It's the only way we are going to survive."
That evening, May 29, Dennis O'Hern, executive director of the Fishing Rights Alliance, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based recreational fishing advocacy organization that little more than a year before had been at war with the longline fleet, looked out over the crowd of about 75 leaders and opinion makers from the commercial and recreational fishing communities and said virtually the same thing.
"This gives me hope."
The occasion that brought together this surprising group of former adversaries was the official launch of the Gulf Partnership for Marine Fisheries, an alliance formed — as described in the group's introductory brochure — "to support the recreational and commercial fishing community and fishery dependent businesses."
Fishermen in attendance were enthusiastic and eager to talk.
Golden, who had by now arrived to lend his support, repeated what he'd said on the dock earlier in the day.
"I think this is the best thing we've ever seen," he said.
Martin Fisher, owner of Rising Sun Fisheries in Madeira Beach, saw in the alliance the possibility of a brighter future.
"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "I'm for us being able to fish 10 years from now; that's what I'm about."
Walter Keithly, a researcher at Louisiana State University who has agreed to help advise the group, said the gathering was unique in his experience.
"It's a first," he said. "It's nice to see common cause, coming together to generate data for the science process. I would do anything I can to help out with the process."
National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15
In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.
National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15
In this episode:
March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is required by state statute to appoint someone to the Board of Fisheries by today, Tuesday, May 19. However, his efforts to fill the seat have gone unfulfilled since he took office in January. The seven-member board serves as an in-state fishery management council for fisheries in state waters.
The resignation of Walker’s director of Boards and Commissions, Karen Gillis, fanned the flames of controversy late last week.
Keith Decker, president and COO of High Liner Foods, will take over for the outgoing CEO, Harry Demone, who will assume the role as chairman of the board of directors. The Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based seafood supplier boasts sales in excess of $310 million (American) for the first quarter of the year.Read more...