National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The North Pacific Fishery Management Council in October tackled a thorny subject — funding observer coverage.

According to the Homer (Alaska) News, the council finalized changes to the observer program for groundfish boats at the October meeting. Among the changes: NMFS will contract directly with observer companies to provide part-time observers for sectors previously not covered such as the halibut longline fleet and groundfish boats under 60 feet.

And as a way of funding the observer coverage, the council will assess a 1.25 percent fee on ex-vessel value of landings in fisheries that must participate in the program.

Paying for observer coverage is a vexing problem in fisheries management. Ideally, if regulators mandate something like observer coverage, they should pay for it.

But the reality is Washington politicians happily call for measures like the observer program to monitor the catch and bycatch but are less enthusiastic about giving NMFS a bigger budget to fund it.

Others say it's just as well. They believe the industry is better off paying for observer coverage itself. Hey, you want something done right, you do it yourself, right?

Unfortunately, observer coverage isn't cheap. And it's another added expense that doesn't make it any easier for fishermen to stay afloat financially.

Maybe there's a middle ground where fishermen and NMFS share the program cost in some fashion. Let's hope so, because the observer program isn't going away, nor is the funding question.

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.

Try a FREE issue of National Fisherman

Fill out this order form, If you like the magazine, get the rest of the year for just $14.95 (12 issues in all). If not, simply write cancel on the bill, return it, and owe nothing.

First Name
Last Name
U.S. Canada Other

Postal/ Zip Code
© 2015 Diversified Business Communications
Diversified Business Communications