National Fisherman

Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.

What weighs 100,000 pounds, is covered with 3,500 gallons of paint, contains 1.4 million feet of rope, and if you — though be sly and don’t let anyone catch you doing it — scrape a little of that paint off, it probably still smells like the bottom of the ocean?

It’s called Red, Yellow and Blue, and it’s an art display by Orly Genger at New York’s Madison Square Park until Sept. 8 of this year.

GengerAll that rope? It’s sink line used by lobstermen and crabbers from Machiasport, Maine, to Wakefield, R.I., that Genger and a team of interns wove into crocheted rope runners that were then turned into undulating, curved structures that run — supported by poles and wires — across part of the park.

The sinking groundline used in the project was gathered by the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, which was previously involved in a three-year plan to remove 1 million pounds of floating groundline from the lobster fishery and replace it with sinking groundline. When the project ended in 2010 over 2 million pounds of rope had been collected. The float rope was recycled into such things as nursery trays, plant pots and woven doormats.

But about a year ago when Genger’s representatives called the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation looking for rope, all that float line had been recycled, says the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation’s director Erin Pelletier.

However, the ocean bottom is not easy on sink rope. “Fishermen were going through it. They were asking ‘What do I do with it?’” remembers Pelletier. Fortunately, courtesy of Genger, she had an answer, and more than 40 fishermen got 50 cents a pound for their discarded sink line. The rope was then shipped to the artist’s studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., in seven deliveries.

The next stop for Red, Yellow and Blue is the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass., where it will be installed for a year. In the meantime, Genger has been in contact with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation because she needs rope for her next show, which is in Texas.

“It’s very ironic that an artist in New York City is up here paying these guys for their rope. I never imagined that phone call,” says Pelletier.

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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