National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The Feb. 25 fishermen's rally that took place in St. Petersburg, Fla., took place a day after the anniversary of the national fishermen's rally held last year in Washington, D.C. Do you wonder how effective last year's rally was?

Last year's rally was significant. Some 3,000 commercial and recreational fishermen joined forces to register their dissatisfaction. And it garnered the bi-partisan support of 20 U.S. House and Senate members, state lawmakers and mayors.

That political support for commercial fishermen continues today. New England's Congressional delegation is keeping NOAA's feet to the fire regarding the hardships the sector system and catch share management have brought to the Northeast groundfish fishery.

Consequently, Congress is beginning to question NOAA's zeal to bring catch share management to other U.S. fisheries. This week, the House voted to nix funding NOAA sought for establishing other catch share programs. The Senate hasn't yet voted on the matter.

And Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) announced plans this week to convene a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing. The intent is to collect testimony that can be used to modify the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation's federal fisheries law.

Making Magnuson a more flexible law was the Washington, D.C., rally's main intent. It's too soon to say whether the Senate hearing will bring meaningful changes. House and Senate bills proposed last year to revise the act have expired. But it's fair to say last year's rally has proved to be a catalyst in the battle to bring change to U.S. fisheries management.

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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