National Fisherman

When I have a disaster at work, it's because I'm worried I'll miss a deadline. Though it can feel like the end of the world when I'm struggling to get a story done, it's really not.

For fishermen, however, the littlest mistakes can be deadly. As our December issue's "Consequences" (page 14) demonstrates, you can pay the ultimate price for any unguarded moments at sea.

The story begins with a football game. Two Louisiana shrimpers had tied together on a Sunday night in December so their crews could watch football together. They also ran an overhead grab line between the boats so those crossing over could steady themselves.

consequencesAfter the skipper and crewman from the first boat crossed over to the second boat, the skipper decided to stay on deck a little longer. "When the crewman went back outside 15 to 20 minutes later, he didn't find the skipper. The crewman assumed the skipper returned to his boat via the grab line as he'd done many times."

But this time was different. When the crewman returned to the boat after the game, he couldn't find the skipper. He was never found despite an extensive search involving a Coast Guard helicopter and cutter and other nearby fishing vessels.

Safety is a big concern for our readers. A review of our most popular news stories from October shows commercial fishing continues to be a highly dangerous occupation. Among our most popular was a Bering Sea rescue caught on video, and stories about three men saved from the water as they were clinging to the bow of a sinking boat, and a survivor of a sinking who credits the crewman who didn't survive (also his father-in-law) for saving his life.

Knowing how important safety is to you, we include a safety column submitted by the U.S. Coast Guard in every issue of National Fisherman, recounting a disaster and lessons learned from it. As December's column shows, not every safety story is dramatic, but when you're at sea the results can be just as deadly. Fish safe!

USCG photo

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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Diversified Business Communications