National Fisherman


SamHillSamuel Hill is associate editor for National Fisherman.



2015 0305 MartinDawn M. Martin was appointed executive director of SeaWeb in 2004 and became president and chairwoman of the board in 2006. Before joining SeaWeb she worked for Oceana, served in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration and was with the American Oceans Campaign. SeaWeb was created by the Pew Charitable Trusts in 1995 and was originally called the Marine Conservation Initiative.

Q: What do you view as the takeaway from SeaWeb’s 2015 Seafood Summit?

As there were several important takeaways from the summit this year, I will mention two that have been repeated quite often during the last few days.

The first takeaway would be the focus on collaboration aimed at solving problems, rather than just talking about them and/or pointing fingers. This year the discussions really emphasized the need to make sure that we had the right people in the room to advance key issues.

Historically, one group that has been underrepresented in these discussions has been the producers, both the wild capture fishing communities and the fish farmers.

In order to ensure greater diversity of participants, SeaWeb established a Summit Scholars Program that enabled us to provide direct support to ensure the participation of fishers and groups whose approach to sustainable fisheries includes promoting community development and empowerment of the fishers and their families.

As an example, we were able to support Lance Nacio, a Gulf shrimp fisherman, to attend the summit as a SeaWeb Scholar this year. His level of engagement was quite significant, from adding an important perspective to the panels and weighing in on the sidebar conversations to leading a field trip for participants to witness firsthand his shrimping operation. I hope we can strive to have greater engagement by the fisher community next year in Malta, given the significance of the Maltese fishery in the European Union.

The second takeaway I’d like to mention is that at the last summit, in Hong Kong, FishWise held a workshop on the key mechanisms needed to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud that served as a kick-off to a collaborative effort that came to fruition in New Orleans. Along the way Highliner Foods, National Fisheries Institute, and representatives of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud joined the effort. This unique collaboration became an important part of this year’s workshop which advanced agreement on key data elements for traceability and provided a timely opportunity to discuss implementation of the task force recommendations with representatives from the task force.

Q: What differences do you find between summits in the U.S. and abroad?

Given that the summit started in the U.S., we have a core base of participants that view it as an essential element of their sustainability strategy. We are also able to attract a strong group of participants from the EU, given the leadership role that Europe has played on this issue historically and the fact that we have previously hosted summits in Barcelona and Paris. The last summit before New Orleans was held in Hong Kong, specifically to help build greater participation from Asia and to try to influence that important market.

While we have previously been able to attract participants from Asia, the Hong Kong Summit was the first major event focused on sustainable seafood in China, and the receptivity was quite strong. We clearly have a lot more work to do to develop a base of support in Asia but given the global nature of the fisheries market, we tend to get a good geographic mix wherever the summit is held.

It is, however, critical that we continue to strive to reach underrepresented geographies and sectors, such as the fishing community, in order to advance solution-oriented dialogue and to ensure better managed fisheries worldwide. Each location where we host a summit brings with it different challenges, as well as opportunities that are important for us to explore.
Q: How has the summit evolved since you started; in other words, what’s different, then and now?

The New Orleans Seafood Summit was our 11th, and many of the participants noted the evolution of the summit in their remarks, commenting specifically on the dramatic shift in the tone of the debate. I think this reflects the maturing of the movement, in addition to a concerted effort to move the discussion away from a platform to highlight the problems to a focus on collaborations — the purpose of which is to seek solutions.

In the earliest days, the concept of sustainability was just beginning to take hold, and our efforts were aimed at shifting the focus away from wildlife protection campaigns for fisheries to efforts aimed at making the “ocean-to-plate” connection. SeaWeb’s market research taught us that the way to get people/decision makers to address fisheries management in a productive, lasting way was to focus on fish as seafood.

Once that focus was established, we intentionally directed our efforts on integrating the other seafood stakeholders into the summit, such as scientists, the seafood supply chain, governments and the media. Today, we are able to focus less on the makeup of the convention itself and are now able to turn our attention to ensuring that we have robust solution-oriented dialogues that attract the right players to advance the issues.

Q: What goes through your mind when you contemplate distressed fisheries, such as New England groundfish?

That the social, environmental and economic impacts of fishery management decisions are inextricably linked. The integration of these essential components is a topic this summit has also helped put on the table for discussion. We need to talk about some of the negative social impacts of fishing, like forced labor, but we also have to recognize the positive social impacts fisheries provide communities and regions in terms of economics and food security.

The debate has changed significantly from the earlier days, and now I think everyone agrees that the goal is to have well managed fisheries that meet environmental goals, while also providing for the economic sustainability of the fishing communities that are often most affected by management efforts.
Q: What is the level of seafood/fishing industry participation? What are some of the things you do to attract industry to events like this?

Historically, we have had good representation from the seafood supply chain but there is always room for growth. On average for the last few years, the breakdown has been about 30 to 40 percent industry, and about the same percentage from the NGOs, with the remaining participants coming from the science, governments and the media.

An important part of our outreach effort is to work with our partners to encourage them to help us promote the summit to their networks, while also seeking opportunities to help them set up side meetings or other events to advance their own programmatic agenda at the summit.

The time and expense of traveling to the summit is something that we always consider and so, if there are ways to help people utilize the summit to meet other related goals, we do our best to accommodate them. We are sensitive to the fact that it is a luxury for many of our participants to be able to come to learn, network and seek solutions to some of the hurdles that they are experiencing on their pathway to sustainability, so we try to encourage opportunities for other business to be conducted while they are there.

Over the years, we have learned that making connections is as an important part of the summit experience, as is the learning from the program.  

Q: You’re in Europe next year. The year after that maybe Asia? From the perspective of American impacts, three years is a long time. Is that something you think about?

We always need to think about our base and how to keep the folks from different regions involved in the summit. While we tend to draw a significant amount of our participants from the local country/region where the summit is held, we also have geographic diversity from other parts of the globe. For instance, this year we had representation from about 30 countries here in New Orleans, and I expect and hope we will be able to continue to have a strong showing from North America next year in Malta.

There is a lot of integration within the supply chain, and given the importance of the European markets to the producers in the U.S. and Canada, I expect we will see an even more diverse group of participants in Europe.

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In August 2007, John Yates was fishing for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico when an officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boarded his vessel for a random inspection. The officer determined 72 of the estimated 3,000 fish on board were under the then 20-inch limit, set them aside in a crate on ice and ordered Yates to bring them to shore. Yates returned with 69 fish, and a crew member later told authorities that Yates had told him to throw the small fish overboard and replace them with properly sized ones. (Yates has disputed the charge, citing incorrect measurement methods and a miscounting of fish.)

Then, prosecutors threw the book at Yates. Instead of a civil penalty for the offense, Yates was charged under federal law of destroying evidence. Under that law he faced a fine and up to 20 years imprisonment if he "knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence" a federal investigation.

To understand the charges, you need to look back more than a dozen years. Remember Enron? This law was implemented in the wake of that company's 2001 financial meltdown that occurred after the company had been misstating income and equity by the billions, and for years, causing the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Thousands of investors lost billions of dollars; many of them were employees of the energy firm and also lost their jobs. Enron's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, was convicted of criminal destruction of evidence, for shredding thousands of documents — by the truckload. Yates was charged with a similar crime for throwing over fish.

So essentially, a blue-collar guy was charged with a white-collar crime. Why is it never the other way around?

Yates was convicted and served 30 days in jail, but he continued to fight the federal charge, and this week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5–4 in Yates' favor. The court ruled that fish did not fall under the definition of a "tangible object" in the law's language since it was intended to prohibit corporate document shredding and because fish are unlike the records and documents that were specified in the destruction of evidence statute. (Yates did not fight a lesser conviction for removing property to prevent seizure.)

During oral arguments in November, Justice Antonin Scalia also reprimanded the prosecutors for excessive prosecution, which was reported in a story by Slate magazine: "This captain is throwing a fish overboard. He could have gotten 20 years. What kind of a sensible prosecution is that? ... Who do you have out there that exercises prosecutorial discretion? ... What kind of a mad prosecutor would try to send this guy up for 20 years?"

Yates won an important legal victory, but it's also bittersweet. In an interview with the Bradenton Herald (in the video above), Yates, now 62, says the conviction destroyed his fishing career. "It forced me into early retirement so now I'm drawing social security ... Right now the fishermen are probably making $110,000– $120,000 a year. There's nobody that's going to give up a seat for me to jump in there right now. I think my fishing days is over, and I wish it wasn't. I'd get back in a boat today if I could."

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I moved to the Blue Hill Peninsula five months ago. Though I was already used to winters in Maine, I was warned that Down-East winters would be tough. It turns out this February may be the coldest on record.

The bitter cold is particularly excruciating if you're a Maine clammer right now. Winter prices are higher than they've ever been ($2.10 per pound, according to a report from WCSH-TV), but many diggers either can't get to flats banked in by relentless snowstorms, or they are prevented from digging by iced-up shores and winds. You know the weather's bad when fishermen aren't able to take advantage of high prices.

2015 217 Snow shotBrooklin's Naskeag Point, home of the town dock, is blanketed in snow and ice. Melissa Wood photo It's not just cold. Relentless storms have taken a toll on Maine's other fisheries too by keeping boats at the dock more days than not. Those who do go out must be prepared for the worse. Last Saturday, on Valentine's Day, two lobstermen were rescued after their boat sank off Matinicus Island. They had been heading to Rockland to get supplies before yet another blizzard arrived later in the day.

Also anticipating that blizzard, on the same day I took my dog to the beach on Naskeag Point in Brooklin. On the beach sit boulders glazed over like large donut holes. Underneath my feet, sand and stones were hidden by multiple coats of snow and ice, ice and snow. Naskeag Point is where commercial fishermen hoist their catches up on the crane to the town dock.

Though the renowned sailing waters of Eggemoggin Reach are close by, recreational boaters are advised to use the ramp on Benjamin River. It wouldn't be wise to get in the way of a lobsterman impatient to get on (or off) the water. Where else can you go on the Maine coast where commercial fishermen take precedent over tourists? That's one of the reasons I like it here.

The reach is frozen now. The crane is still. Most of the lobster boats have been hauled out, but through the large flakes of snow already coming down I see a couple boats in the water. February is more than half over. The days are getting longer.

Spring is coming.

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Sometimes good things come in small packages, and sometimes small things come well packaged.

2015 212 SpotterPilot 2 pFishermen who catch forage fish like menhaden typically don't see themselves as fishing for human consumption, says Andrew Jackson of the International Fish Meal and Fish Oil Organization, one of the panelists who participated in the Seafood Summit's forage fish debate. Saving Seafood photoAnd so it was that a conference session on small fish, for which I had no particular expectations, turned out to be a one of the jewels of the three-day Seafood Summit in New Orleans (Earlier this week I wrote about conferences held on Day 1 and Day 2.)

I believe it's permissible to say "small fish" when speaking of forage fish, but I'm not sure. "There's no distinct, clear definition" for forage fish, said Dr. Konstantine Rountos, a marine ecologist and conservation scientist who studies the effects of human impacts on coastal ecosystems. Rountos said forage fish species share a "critical" role in the ecosystem transferring energy from plankton to upper trophic species.

Rountos was part of a three-member panel charged with "debating" the guiding principles for forage fish management.

The nonetheless rancor-free discussion brought to lively light the particular issues that attend forage fisheries and was a reminder that in an ever-more-populous world, "how we use" will be no less of a consideration than "how much we use."

Rountos, who advocated for the integrity of the ecosystem, was joined by Andrew Jackson, technical director of the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization, and chef Barton Seaver, head of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Jackson, who, it should be noted, on Monday received a Seafood Champion Leadership Award from SeaWeb, made the case that vast amounts of forage fish are necessary to produce the food we eat – meat as well as seafood. If I understood him correctly (and if I didn't it's on me), 5 million tons of fish meal are the "foundation" of 35 million tons of aquaculture production, 150 million tons of pork production and 110 million tons of poultry production. (Pigs, for example, get 5 percent fishmeal for eight to 10 weeks in their weaning diets.)

And he noted that while fish meal production has come down in recent years, the tonnage of production it accounts for has more than doubled. By the same token, the price has increased by a factor of four, from $500 per ton to $2,000 per ton.

Seaver spoke of forage fish as "part and parcel of our cultural fabric," but noted that forage fishermen typically do not view themselves as fishing for human consumption. "We are looking at a systemic use issue," he said. In Seaver's view it might be wise to "catch less at greater value for greater purpose."

Jackson wasn't sure menhaden, for example, represented a greater purpose. "You'll struggle to get people to eat canned menhaden," he said.

Jackson says fish oil has eclipsed fishmeal in value and will eventually drive the forage fish industry. Barring innovation, he's probably right. Fish oil, which contains DHA and EPA, the long-chain marine omega-3 fatty acids, must be added to the diets of farmed salmon.

"If salmon [production] wants to double," Seaver said, "what are they going to do but let the EPA and DHA come down?"

On this note Rountos, the conservationist, seemed to share Seaver's "greater purpose" perspective. Don't manage for abundance, he said, "Manage for maximum energy content."

"We shouldn't think of forage fish as salvation for a growing population."

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Those of us associated with the fishing industry often use the term "regime shift" to try to explain change in the ocean.

It now appears there may be a regime shift headed our way at the water's edge, with respect to how environmentalists, seafood label advocates, and ultimately, the public view farmed salmon.

2015 211 SWSS-logoA session entitled "Is It Time for a New Conversation About Farmed Salmon," at the Seafood Summit in New Orleans yesterday, highlighted the progress salmon farmers have made and the challenges they still face in their quest to earn broad consensus that their product is sustainable.

Salmon farmers contend with sea lice and pollution, consumers are wary of antibiotic use, and advocates for sustainability worry about the fish-in, fish-out ratio, which is how they describe the amount of fish meal consumed in producing farmed salmon.

But the reality is that salmon farmers are making progress. Scott Nichols, director of Verlasso, the only farmed salmon producer to have received a "good alternative" endorsement from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch consumer guide, talked about his company's one-to-one fish-in, fish-out ratio and lower pen density, both better than worldwide averages.

And Alf-Gøran Knutsen of Norway's Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, talked about how his company is using lumpfish to combat the persistent issue of sea lice: they eat them. Not only are lumpfish preferable to pesticides, but over the years sea lice have become resistant to them.

If Seafood Watch is resistant to farmed salmon, Whole Foods made a decision to market farmed salmon that met its standards for production and traceability and embarked on a yearlong study to develop those standards.

"We could have said, 'There are too many things to worry about with farmed salmon, we shouldn't sell it,'" said Carrie Brownstein, the company's seafood standards quality coordinator. "But our model at Whole Foods is to create change."

Salmon, wild and farmed, is Whole Foods' largest selling seafood, Brownstein said.

Those of you who have read me over the years know that while I vastly prefer wild salmon to farmed, I am not offended by farmed salmon's very existence. I am convinced that farmed salmon paved the way for wild salmon to reach new markets by introducing salmon to Americans outside the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Nor should we feel threatened by the ascendance of farmed salmon. Fish consumption will continue to grow in this country, even if per capita consumption remains flat, which is unlikely in these health-conscious times.

By the same token, there will always be folks debating wild salmon vs. farmed. Some of them will likely be at today's session, "How Wild is Wild?" which will raise the issue of the relationship between wild, hatchery, and farmed salmon.

Indeed, the question came up at yesterday's session. "It's a complicated debate," said Peter Bridson, who is representing the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program at the summit.

Stay tuned.

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NOAA administrator Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan yesterday opened the 11th Seafood Summit, in New Orleans, underlining the scientific agency's commitment to resilience in the "lives and livelihood" of Americans. But she very quickly focused her message on an audience of 500 or more people linked by their interest in seafood.

2015 210 SullivanIMG 1688NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan talks to an audience of 500 people about U.S. aquaculture opportunities, and efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud at the 11th Seafood Summit in New Orleans. Jerry Fraser photoSullivan, a high-achieving scientist who became an astronaut, flew on three shuttle missions and is the first woman to have walked in space, enumerated the agency's priorities as deriving information that enables it to "keep the pulse of the planet," evolving the National Weather Service "to build a weather-ready nation," and providing information and technology "to help our communities become more resilient."

Healthy fisheries and coastal communities, she said, are "central to ecological resilience."

And while NOAA may be viewed in many minds as overseeing marine fisheries in federal waters, Sullivan, who served as head of an aquaculture panel on the Pew Oceans Commission around the turn of the century, takes the broad perspective when it comes to seafood.

Half of the seafood Americans eat is produced by aquaculture, she noted, and much of that is imported. Citing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's conviction that increases in the production of seafood will come from fish farming, Sullivan pointed to opportunity for U.S. enterprise. "Aquaculture is a bright spot and one we need to nurture," she said, because it offers the prospect of resilience and jobs to coastal communities.

The United States must "stop exporting jobs to countries that are more aquaculture friendly," she said.

NOAA has released a plan for the Gulf of Mexico that envisions 20 aquaculture operations developing over the next 10 years.

Sullivan serves on the presidential task force that recently released its recommendations on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as seafood fraud.

A number of countries turn a blind eye to IUU fishing, which she characterized as an "assault on global oceans," and as a result, she said, a collaborative effort by industry, conservation interests and nations fishing responsibly will be required to eliminate it. IUU fishing costs the United States billions of dollars a year, she said, and suggested that offending nations could find trade barriers imposed on their products.

She also called for traceability programs to combat seafood fraud.

At its heart, Sullivan said, NOAA is a natural science enterprise. "The cornerstone of work at NOAA is prediction," she said, and the agency's product is the kind of environmental intelligence that begins with weather, tide and current tables, satellite imagery and research.

"Demand for that kind of information continues to grow," she said.

SeaWeb, which describes its mission as transforming knowledge into action toward healthier oceans, has hosted a series of seafood summits, in the United States and elsewhere, since 2002.

In 2013, Diversified Communications, the owner of National Fisherman and the producer of the Seafood Expo brand trade events in Boston, Europe and Asia, entered into a partnership with SeaWeb to produce the Seafood Summit sustainable seafood conferences, which draw representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community from around the world.

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I always assumed that falling into cold water was more dangerous because you can die from hypothermia. It turns out that it's even more dangerous than that. Falling into cold water can also trigger something called "cold shock response," which can cause you to drown in an instant.

Here's an example of how it works. On the official Coast Guard blog, Paul Newman, a USCG boating safety specialist, points to the case of a man who had taken a stand-up paddleboard (also called a SUP) onto Lake Tahoe. The man had brought a lifejacket with him, but instead of wearing it, he tied it the leash of the board (which should have been around his ankle). About 50 yards from shore, he fell off and drowned instantly.

2015 203 ship1726Cold water makes time critical. Crew members take part in a survival suit drill on the NOAA ship Ka'imimoana. NOAA photoSo what happened? Newman points out he didn't hit his head. Most likely, he died from cold shock response. Ever jump into a cold shower and gasp? It's that same reflex, he says:

"The sudden fall into cold water made him gasp underwater. Aspirating water he began choking, probably panicked and, sinking into even colder deep water, made ineffective, frantic movements with his arms which had been momentarily stunned by the cold water. He wasn't wearing a lifejacket and he died without ever surfacing."

According to findings from the 2008 research project Cold Water Bootcamp, cold water kills quickly and it doesn't even have to be that cold (just under 70 degrees F). That day on Lake Tahoe, it was summer and the air temperature 75 degrees with surface water temperatures around 60 degrees.

If cold shock response doesn't kill you in the first minute, within 10 minutes your limbs start to become incapacitated, making it difficult or impossible for even strong swimmers to get back to a boat. In about an hour, hypothermia sets in. As Newman repeats a half a dozen times, "wearing a lifejacket buys you time."

Though Newman targets his advice at recreational boaters, the same logic works for commercial fishermen who find themselves in cold water. Commercial fisherman Lee d'Entremont credited having his survival suit on with saving his life and those of two other crewmen and an observer from Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans when the 64-foot Poseidon Princess sank off Nova Scotia last weekend.

They had about five minutes after waking up in the early morning to don their suits and put out a mayday call before the boat sank beneath them. The three crew members made it into a self-inflating life raft, while the observer, David Murphy, spent over an hour in the water. Nearby fishing boats responded to the distress call and pulled them out of the water. All four were wearing immersion suits and all four survived.

That's no coincidence, says d'Entremont. "All the gear was up to snuff, everything was working good and I can't say enough about the immersion suits.... For the one I had, it was the ultimate thing to have on in that situation. Saved my life, other than that I only had shorts on," he recalled to CBC News.

According to d'Entremont he was lucky: He lost his cell phone on the boat, but he had left his wallet at home. Preparedness, not luck, was the reason he and others survived that sinking. Check your safety equipment and make sure it's in good shape and that you can get your survival suit on quickly.

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Sometimes the weather that keeps most of us inside makes for ideal fishing. Not today, I hope. Right now a blizzard is raging with the wind gusting in 53-mph blasts, causing 10 degrees to "feel like" -20. (Fortunately, I'm inside, warmed with coffee, a woodstove, electricity that hasn't blinked yet and the knowledge that I don't have to go anywhere except for brief walks with a dog whose short legs limit him to a short path dug in the snow.)

Blizzards and negative temperatures are also common in Dauphin River in Manitoba, Canada. Located about 430 miles north of Fargo, North Dakota, next to Lake Winnipeg, the area is also home to about 65 commercial fishermen, according to Dale Einarsson whose husband, Helgi, is one of them.

2015 127 Coastlines Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.51.18 AMCommercial fisherman Helgi Einarsson uses this under ice crawler to set his nets under frozen Lake Winnipeg. YouTube screen shotThey introduce us to a unique form of winter fishing in a short video produced by the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters. It's part of a series showing Canada's commercial fishermen at work offered by the council, which was formed in 1995 to promote the country's fish harvesters and represent them at a national level.

Helgi Einarsson's weather challenges are similar to ones faced by all commercial fishermen. As Dale explains, it could be a nice morning when they go out, but conditions change so fast that you can be out there when a snowstorm blows up. "Out there" is on the frozen lake, where they string nets between holes in the ice using a device called an "under ice crawler" to target pickerel and whitefish. To see how it's done, watch the video below.

Here's something more that might warm you up on this winter day. Usually I avoid looking at Internet comments, but this video drew some positive ones expressing awe at this type of fishing ("that's baller!"). Even better, people also made the connection between the fishermen on the screen and the fish they eat! Says one, "I bought Lake Winnipeg pickerel right in my local grocery store yesterday in Qualicum Beach, B.C. Can you believe it? It's people like you that make this possible. And it was wonderful!"


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Fishermen have as many things to complain about as ever, but lately the price of fuel, down about 40 percent in the last year, isn't one of them. And that's true whether you own the boat or work the back deck. As most folks reading this know, a vessel's expenses typically are deducted from the crew's share of the proceeds.

2015 122 Jerry RI170Vessel expenses are typically deducted from the crew's share of the proceeds, so crew members welcome the recent drop in fuel prices. Jerry Fraser photoIn my youth, many New England trawlers shared according to what was known as the "broken 40" system: Forty percent of the vessel's stock (revenue from the catch) was held by the boat; the crew got 60 percent but paid for food, fuel and ice. There were some big paydays under this system, but if expenses were high relative to the stock, deckhands could earn nothing for their time at sea. Such trips were known as brokers.

Wallace Stewart, who in 1971 taught me how to run the big Fairbanks Morse diesel on the redfish trawler Vandal, once told me of a trip, on the eve of World War II, where the haddock were as thick as anyone aboard had ever seen them. The gang couldn't begin to get the deck cleared, and every time they opened up a hole the skipper would haul back and dump another bag of fish onto the deck.

They cut fish all the way to the dock in Gloucester, Mass., and after they unloaded the skipper climbed down the foc's'le ladder with the bad news: Haddock were two cents, and the trip was a broker. As a gesture of good will, he offered a $10 bill to anyone willing to sign on for another trip.

For his part, Old Stewart (as he came to be known in Portland) had seen enough. He went up over the wharf, and with the country gearing up for war, found work in a machine shop for the duration.

By way of a footnote, fuel may be relatively cheap, but it's no steal. A gallon of diesel is around $2.20 here in Portland, Maine, which translates to 36 cents in 1970 dollars. In 1970, diesel sold for between 16 and 23 cents a gallon.

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On Thursday morning, it was 7 degrees below zero in Wells, Maine, and that’s pretty cold when you go out to start your car. But it’s even colder when it’s 1:30 a.m. and you’ve just been rousted out of your bunk to haul back.

2015 113 Coastlines Kodiak DSCN1287 JFSnow and bitter cold add to the challenge of fishing in winter. Jerry Fraser photoCarvel Whaley, who I fished with on the Lady Jennifer in the winter of 1984 after my boat Hard Times had sunk, would let you wring every last second out of your mid-watch kink. Carvel was soft spoken and rather than bang on the stateroom door or holler at us to …grab our socks, he’d slow the engine down and throw the winches in gear. We’d awaken instantly and roll out on deck still digging the gunk out of our eyes. Depending on how deep we were fishing we might have 10 minutes before the doors came up, a few hundred seconds to jump into our oilskins, guide wire onto the drums, and pray the net was in one piece.

We were flounder fishing on pretty good bottom so we didn’t stave up often but when we did, Carvel was an excellent twine man and would work with us to get the net mended and back in the water.

Not all captains were so inclined, and some developed a reputation as “slipper skippers” in honor of the footwear in which they padded about the wheelhouse through the harshest winter weather and back-deck fiascos.

The Lady Jennifer was an 80-footer, or thereabouts, but had only one net reel, so fishing stopped when we rimracked. On boats with two reels you could set the second net if you destroyed the first one. This was efficient, but crews had mixed opinions about two reels because it meant there was no jumping back in the rack until the first net was fixed, however long it took.

I’m not a guy who thrives on cold weather — you’ll never see me shirtless at a Green Bay game with a big red letter painted on my stomach — but it didn’t bother me much in those days, especially once I yielded to common sense and started wearing long johns. My hands would get cold when I first came out on deck, but they’d warm up on their own and stay that way for hours, which is why I’d never leave the deck until we were done.

The warmest place for a deckhand was the fish hold (which also was the coolest place in the summer). I enjoyed working the hold and like most fishermen took considerable pride in the condition of my fish when they came out.

The Jennifer’s hold was nine or 10 feet deep, with another 18 inches or so to the top of the coaming, but there was no ladder. Instead, wooden blocks were fastened to a stanchion on either side of the slaughterhouse. You planted one foot, groped across perhaps five feet of hatchway for the next lower block on the other side, and worked your way up or down. It was fine once you got used to it, and it saved working around a ladder when shoveling ice, but it took getting used to.

In my case the learning curve may have steepened through weakness of the human flesh. My first trip as hold man commenced just a few hours after a Bat Juice marathon in which all hands, accompanied by their skipper, had joyously participated.

It was a late-winter night and despite the relative snugness of the hold I thought, once I’d managed to get down there without landing on my ass, that it was an open question whether or not they’d have to use the Gilson to hoist me out. But I made it on my own, as trawlermen have since they first cast their nets on the waters.

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Page 3 of 16

Inside the Industry

Pink shrimp is the first fishery managed by Washington to receive certification to the global Marine Stewardship Council fisheries standard for sustainable, wild-caught seafood.

The state’s fishery was independently assessed as a scope extension of the MSC certified Oregon pink shrimp fishery, which achieved certification to the MSC standard in December 2007 and attained recertification in February 2013.


NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.

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