National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



In the wake of this week's increasingly disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, your heart can't help but go out to Louisiana's long suffering fishermen, who must have the patience of Job.

What haven't Louisiana harvesters had to cope with in recent years? Foreign imports were already depressing dock prices when Hurricane Katrina came rampaging through the region in 2005, throwing fishing boats onto land and destroying the industry infrastructure.

And as if that wasn't enough, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike roared through in 2008, wreaking similar havoc. Between hurricanes, infrastructure problems, low dock prices and spiraling fuel prices, Louisiana fishermen have somehow coped with a lot of adversity.

Now comes this latest blow, courtesy of a BP oil rig that exploded and sank last week. The word today is that it's spewing an estimated 200,000 gallons a day and could eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill as the worst U.S. environmental disaster in decades.

If so, it's going to have a chilling effect on Louisiana fisheries and its fishing industry. One can only hope that lessons learned from the Valdez debacle will spare Pelican State harvesters the lasting pain Alaska fishermen have — and continue — to endure.

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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