National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Tell me, do you miss former NMFS head Bill Hogarth?

I can’t say I was Hogarth’s biggest fan. NMFS was saddled with over 100 lawsuits when Hogarth took office. One of Hogarth’s first missions was to make the lawsuits go away.

And they did — largely at fishermen’s expense. It was hard to shake the feeling that NMFS was managing fisheries so that environmental groups wouldn’t sue the agency. 

Still, Hogarth was visible. He visited fishing ports around the nation and talked with fishermen. He gave keynote speeches at Fish Expo trade shows on both coasts. And he was available to talk to the media about fisheries issues.

Today, NMFS' role isn’t so clear. It's hard to even know what to call the agency anymore — is it NMFS or NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Serivice or NOAA Fisheries?

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco is the one quoted in the media these days, not NMFS director Eric Schwaab. Lubchenco and NOAA, not NMFS, appear to be driving the U.S. fisheries management train. Neither Lubchenco or Schwaab, for whatever reasons, have been highly visible in the fishing community. 

If there’s a page they should take out of the Bill Hogarth playbook, that would be a good one to grab. Actually visitng with and talking to fishermen would be a good way of promoting communication and fostering greater transparency in NOAA/NMFS operations.

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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