National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



NMFS announced Wednesday that it has tapped Preston Pate, former chief of North Carolina's Division of Marine Fisheries, to manage a regional assessment and management review of New England's fisheries management process.

The assessment will focus on the relationships between the New England Fishery Management Council, NMFS Northeast Regional Office, and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center plus factors affecting their effectiveness in carrying out their responsibilities under fisheries law.

Consequently, a series of interviews will be held and focus groups will be formed to gather information on the current processes. Input will be sought from New England Fishery Management Council members and staff, NMFS science and management staff, fishing industry leaders, the environmental community and state agencies.

Pate, a Mid-Atlantic Council member and former Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission chairman, is well versed in the fisheries management climate and the challenges the management process poses.

And NF's July 2004 profile of Pate demonstrates that he understands the needs and challenges facing commercial fishermen — and that he actually listens to them.

Pate was much more visible than was his predecessor, and he actively sought fishermen's opinions, said Jerry Schill, then executive director of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, the state's oldest and largest commercial fishing advocates.

"Willing to meet with fishermen at the docks or in coffee shops early in the morning, he was willing to find out what was on their minds," Schill said in the article. Pate was also lauded for his ability to work with a variety of user groups and stakeholders.

"Competing interests are very strong here and the diversity of both gear and fisheries substantial," Pate said in the article. "But I don't consider the elimination of a fishery or a particular gear as a sign of a good job. It's good management that provides a place for all gear users."

When Pate took office in 1997, North Carolina's fisheries program was viewed as being in disarray. But, he said in the article, his experience in politics and management helped turn things around. New England groundfishermen hope Pate can help turn their fortunes around, too.

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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