National Fisherman

In “Rough Waters,” author Nancy Danielson Mendenhall takes aim at the industrialization and privatization of fishing and sets out to tell the stories of small-scale fishermen and their working life.

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The Maine Marine Patrol is now offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of those involved in the sinking of a lobster boat in Port Clyde.

The Liberty, which belongs to lobsterman Tony Hooper, has been intentionally sunk three times in the past six weeks. He says he has no idea who is trying to put him out of business by repeatedly sinking his boat and admits that they’ve likely achieved their goal for this season.

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Back in 1986, Fish Expo, the world’s leading commercial fishing exposition, celebrated its 20th anniversary.

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Fishermen, scientists and government officials are always going to disagree on something — gear choices, quotas, forecasts, climate change and everything in between. But there’s one issue that the entire industry can get behind: Rapacious invasives have got to go.

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The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association recently announced in its newsletter that its launching a new branding pilot in Colorado in September and that its new consumer-facing website is live.

I checked out the new site soon after opening the newsletter and spent the better part of the morning flipping through the recipe gallery. Hot honey broiled salmon? Salmon quinoa taco bowls? Sockeye tortilla soup? Yes, please.

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Being out on the water as much as you can, keeping up with fashion trends might be the last thing on your mind. Looking good for the camera isn’t top priority when you’re hard at work (although we’ve seen plenty of stylin’ deckhands in Crew Shots).

While you might not be thinking about when to change your summer wardrobe over to your new autumn duds, there’s one bit of clothing news that’ll be interesting if you’re involved in the seafood world: self-repairing garments made out of squid.

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How much do you know about lobster rolls?

2016 0810 lobsterollDOWNEASTMainers take their lobster rolls seriously and expect everyone else to as well. Nina Gallant photo, courtesy of Down East Magazine.Before you answer, remember that the National Fisherman offices are located in Portland, Maine — the heart of lobster roll country.

Dont be embarrassed. Luckily, theres an easy way you can study up on the subject so you sound like a pro next time you talk to your friends in Vactionland. In the most recent issue of Down East magazine, managing editor Brian Kevin put together what he calls The Definitive Oral History of the Lobster Roll.

Yes, its that serious.

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Fishermen look at fish in a lot of different ways. You see them in the water, in your nets and on your dinner plates. You might know your favorite fish inside and out, but University of Washington biology professor Adam Summers wants to take a look at them at an angle most people dont have access to.

20160803 CL fishscanA scan of the Thoracocarax stellatus species of fish is shown, with color added by computer to enhance the rendering of the structure of the bones. Adam Summers image.Summers, who works in the universitys School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, is working to create one of the largest clearinghouses of fish computed tomography scans in the world. In layman's terms, he uses a special scanner that meshes together X-rays from different angles into a 3D image, giving him a clearer picture of the creatures internal structure.

Summers has worked with fish for a long time but just started this project in the spring. And boy, is it an ambitious one. The professor is setting out to scan and digitize all 25,000 to 33,000 fish species on Earth. Hes using the scan information to help his biomechanics research.

"I've always been a fish guy," he told National Public Radio. "It's just been in my blood since I was as small as I can remember." Thats not a front. He was a scientific consultant on animated blockbusters "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory."  Instead of the typical firstname.lastname email address, his university username is simply fishguy.

The science behind the work is pretty complex. You can dive into that with a simple Google search of his name. What you really need to check out are the artful scans he’s created by adding dyes to specimens.

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In the September 1986 issue of National Fisherman, we ran a full feature on East Coast fishermen  who had recently started to market their fish directly to customers instead of working through processors and marketers.

2016 0801 CL CVR SEPT 86Fishermen from Maine to Chesapeake Bay and Florida were experimenting with marketing their own catch. Some were selling to consumers from roadside pickup trucks or leasing stalls on piers with high foot traffic. Others were marketing direct to wholesale restaurants, retail fish markets and supermarkets.

Marketing, merchandising and product development were once foreign words to the fisherman. But hes starting to have to come to grips with these things today in order to survive, said Gene Connors, a former fisherman who was overseeing a New England Fisheries Development Foundation project at the time.

There were plenty of tales of fishermen renting U-Haul trucks to sell their catch out of and making double the money.

As you know, direct marketing hasnt been perfected over the years. Not all fishermen are trying their luck on their own and making stacks of extra cash. But the experimenting continues.

Just this week the Peninsula Clarion ran a story about F/V Ounce out in Cook Inlet where many of the salmon that wind up in the nets have their buyer’s name on them from the moment they come out of the sea.”

Local fishermen Chuck Lindsay and Hannah Heimbuch operate Kenai Wild Salmon Company and deliver their catch to customers, usually within 12 hours of docking.

According to that report, about 31 fishermen currently hold direct marketing licenses in Cook Inlet and the initial permit itself only costs $25 and the time it takes to fill out a simple joint application for the Department of Revenue and Fish and Game.

When Bristol Bay was celebrating the two-billionth salmon caught in the fishery, Kenai Wild Salmon Company was posting to Facebook about the 2,000 pounds of salmon they managed to sell directly to Alaskans.

A lot of the companys business is done through Facebook and over text message.

“We pick fish out of our net, and we’re like, ‘This is going to Kent,’” Lindsay told the Peninsula Clarion. “We’ll text him from our boat and say, ‘We caught your fish! Here’s a photograph.’ There’s that connection to the fisherman, to their fish. I think that a little bit can be lost with the direct marketing down to the Lower 48.”

Direct marketing certainly isn’t new, but the social technology available today sure does make it easier. Shooting a text message to your neighbor who buys from you regularly sure beats setting up shop on the side of the road.

If you’ve ever considered trying to sell your catch directly, be sure to check out the linked story and learn a thing or two from the pros. Maybe youll bring the next innovation to the table. I hear some people would sure like to watch their fish caught through a virtual reality headset somehow!

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Another day, another lobster liberation.

It seems that buying or stealing live lobster and returning them to the ocean is becoming a popular trend this year, and the frequency of prison breaks is only increasing during the summer months.

In June, we saw a vegan-run rescue operation that the savior likened her actions to saving slaves through the Underground Railroad, a grocery store passing up on a 15-pound bug and a clam bar setting their 130-year-old, 20-pound friend who was living in their live fish tank free.

These stories are pretty quirky, yes, but the latest tale of lobster freedom blows the others out of the water.

This past weekend, a group of Buddhist monks out of Prince Edward Island, Canada, purchased and released eight boxes of live lobsters (estimated to be about 600 pounds) to get people to think about compassion.

"This whole purpose for us is to cultivate this compassion toward others. It doesn't have to be lobsters, it can be worms, flies, any animals, drive slower so we don't run over little critters on the street,” said Venerable Dan of the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society.

He told Shane Ross of CBC News that they weren’t doing it to change anyone’s dietary habits. He said the release was an exercise in caring and that they work to be kind to all living beings.

The group held a special ceremony before releasing the lobsters and found a spot where the lobsters were unlikely to be recaptured anytime soon.

While I don’t recommend dropping your entire catch just to be nice, this story is a great reminder to respect the animals that we catch, consume and make a living off.

Up here in Maine, Id bet a bystander would jump in after a lobster and claim it as their own if they saw anyone throwing one of the states prized crustaceans back into the ocean. To do my part, maybe Ill just have one lobster roll the next time I'm out by the pier.

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Inside the Industry

The Center for Coastal Studies recently announced that Owen Nichols, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Fisheries Research Program, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the John Annala Fishery Leadership Award by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

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Cummins  announced the opening of a new Alaska service location on Kodiak Island last week that will serve as a service and support location for commercial marine applications.

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