Written by Adrianne Madden
April 2, 2010
This week we learned that the NOAA research vessel Henry B. Bigelow's first Northeast bottom trawl survey featuring new trawl gear yielded improved catch rates for many Mid-Atlantic and New England species. What do the region's fishermen take away from this news? Probably depends on who you ask.
Glass Is Half Full Guy says the news is positive on a couple of fronts. Obviously improved stock health would be welcome news in a region where lagging population numbers that don't meet Magnuson-Stevens Act guidelines have long driven fisheries management policy. And as regulations have become tighter and tighter with each passing year, those guidelines have threatened to drive fishermen from the water.
And Glass Is Half Full Guy is pleased to see that the several years worth of work that fishermen and NMFS scientists have done to improve survey trawl gear and sampling technique is paying off. Better survey results are expected because of those improvements. Reportedly it'll take another two years of surveys to determine whether they truly reflect growing fish populations or simply improved survey techniques.
But Glass Is Half Empty Guy is just shaking his head. He thinks that had the surveys been done right in the first place, then fishing restrictions wouldn't have had to be as stringent as they have been and the fleet size would be more robust.
Glass Is Half Empty Guy also thinks that once catch share management begins May 1, given lower harvest allocations they've been given, it's going to be tough for the region's groundfishermen to survive. By the time there's enough data to get a handle on whether stock populations have indeed improved, Glass Is Half Empty Guy wonders, how many groundfishermen will still be around to be able to take advantage of the healthier stocks?
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