National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

Think only New England groundfishermen have a problem with NOAA/NMFS? Ask Mid-Atlantic fishermen how well they think the agency is managing their commercial fisheries.

A story in the East Hampton (N.Y.) Star this week recounts a recent meeting in Hampton Bays, N.Y., attended by members of Long Island's commercial fishing industries as well as NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, NMFS director Eric Schwaab and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"Fishing is an $11 billion industry here and it's dying, the number of fishermen is declining," the Star quoted Schumer as saying.

New York fishermen want the federal agency to take emergency action to scrap the management system that bases summer flounder quotas on historic landings, state-by-state. They're calling for more quota for summer flounder and scup — and they want it now.

Moreover, they want the data upon which stock assessments (and ultimately catch limits) are based to improve. They want the agency to budget for inshore surveys, make a greater overall commitment to producing better quality survey data, and conduct surveys more often.

Schumer also said NOAA must examine the actions of the agency's enforcement bureau. Those actions sparked an outcry from Northeast fishermen, and subsequently the region's politicians, which led to an investigation by the Commerce Department's inspector general. Mid-Atlantic fishing industry members are likewise disturbed about the enforcement actions.

It would be one thing if only the New England fishermen were upset with NOAA/NMFS. But the dissatisfaction — especially with the science or lack thereof that's used to develop catch limits — is felt in the Mid-Atlantic region, and extends into North Carolina, and the South Atlantic, too. Fishermen are clamoring for NOAA to improve the data and do it fast.

Lubchenco told meeting attendees that she remains open to change. But even when NOAA/NMFS works to improve things, the agency has always moved at glacial speed. NOAA can't afford to be pokey anymore. It's time to pick up the pace.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

Inside the Industry

EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
 
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NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

Read more...

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