National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



We honored the 2010 NF Highliners last week at a dinner in New Bedford, Mass. They’re a special bunch of fishermen.

They don’t seek the limelight, but they never hesitate to take a stand on what they feel is right, either. Thursday's House subcommittee hearing, part of the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, served as a reminder of that on a couple of fronts.

On one hand was BP CEO Tony Hayward, testifying before a frustrated bunch of lawmakers. Sounds like Hayward’s testimony consisted largely of the following:

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t recall.”

“I can’t remember.”

“I wasn’t involved in the decision making process.”

Gee, thank you for clearing things up, Mr. Hayward.

Not that you really expected to hear anything different. Hayward’s testimony came off as stereotypical corporate cover-your-posterior behavior, where profit margins take precedence over everything else, people or governments be damned. You hear a lot of talk about risk and reward analysis, but the word “responsibility” never seems to crop up.

By contrast, we have NF Highliner Diane Wilson, a fourth generation Seadrift, Texas, shrimper. We named Wilson a Highliner in 1996; to say she’s committed to protecting the marine ecosystem is an understatement.

Would you believe so strongly in fighting for what’s right that you would try to sink your boat in protest? Would you go on hunger strikes? Wilson did. Would you keep fighting even after your boat was sunk twice? Wilson did.

It wasn’t a popular stand — precious land-based jobs were also at stake, and Wilson was picketed by 300 workers. But she waged a decade-long one-woman war to stop illegal wastewater discharge by chemical companies and others into the Lavaca-Matagorda-San Antonio Bay ecosystem, a breeding ground for much of the Gulf of Mexico’s fish, shrimp and oyster populations — and won. She did what she thought was right.

She still does. According to a USA Today story, Wilson attended the subcommittee hearing, interrupting Hayward as he uttered his first words by shouting, “You should be charged with a crime, Tony,” before being shown the door.

Once a Highliner, always a Highliner.

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