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

Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.


The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is teaming up with leading shark-tracking nonprofit Ocearch to build the most extensive shark-tagging program in the Gulf of Mexico region.

In October, Ocearch is bringing its unique research vessel, the M/V Ocearch, to the gulf for a multi-species study to generate previously unattainable data on critical shark species, including hammerhead, tiger and mako sharks.

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