National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Gas prices are creeping north towards the $4 a gallon mark again, aren't they?
Here in Portland, Maine, gas prices are ranging from $3.45 to $3.59. West Coast motorists are likely envious.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data of weekly U.S. retail gas prices, regular grade, they fork over $3.857. Californians alone are shelling out $3.966.

The national average as of March 21 is $3.562, an increase of 0.743 cents from a year ago. Yikes!

Remember when gas prices started skyrocketing like this a few years ago? Everyone was outraged, weren't they? Consumers and politicians were breaking out the pitchforks, ready to lynch the oil barons.

Then the economy tanked. And shortly thereafter, gas prices slid back to more consumer-friendly levels.

But now they're rising again. So where's the outrage this time? Did we just get "accustomed" to paying more last time around?

Fishermen, already dealing with shrinking profit margins, can't afford to just shrug off rising fuel prices. As of March 21, EIA data shows the national diesel fuel average price is $3.907 a gallon, up 0.961 cents from a year ago.

Well, New York State Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) is sponsoring a bill the state Senate passed this week that could help Empire State fishermen save on their fuel bills. A companion bill sponsored in the State Assembly by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) is now before the Assembly's environmental conservation committee.

"This bill allows fishermen to conserve fuel," LaValle said in a press statement, "since they would be allowed to aggregate their daily catch limits over a seven day period."

According to LaValle, the bill would sunset on Jan. 1, 2013 when the success of the bill's approach could be fully evaluated and the necessity of an extension determined. Let's see if other coastal states follow New York's lead in finding ways to help them cut their fuel bills.

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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