National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



If the winds of change are as powerful as the ones that blew through Maine last night, fishermen may be able to convince their Congressmen to vote for House and Senate bills aiming to add flexibility to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Here in southern Maine alone, Thursday night's heavy rains and whipping winds led to flooded streets and plenty of downed tree limbs and power lines. The storm, which brought wind gusts topping 60 mph, left some 100,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

The blustery storm followed the more metaphorical winds that began whipping up when the fishermen's rally organized by United We Fish hit Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. We'll have plenty of rally coverage in the May issue of NF we're working on now. And check out the rally photos on our Facebook page.

Not only did the rally draw an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 commercial and recreational fishermen from all over the country, it attracted 20 lawmakers, too.

That indicates there is political support for the House and Senate bills. One reason that support is there may be because the politicians realize jobs are at stake.

Politicians may or may not understand commercial fishing. But they do understand they must keep Americans working.

In a down economy, when political leaders are working to create jobs, it's hard to imagine them backing any policies that would unnecessarily eliminate jobs and harm coastal communities.

Now, the real post-rally work begins. Fishermen must call, e-mail or fax, their Congressmen and Senators and/or meet with them face to face — and make them commit to voting "yes" on the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act.

They should. After all the Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act is really a jobs bill. The slogan was true when Bill Clinton first ran for president, and it remains true today:

It's still the economy, stupid.

And Congress shouldn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

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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