National Fisherman


Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.

 

 

Logical thinking has apparently outlived its usefulness. Consider the following.

Commercial fishing has long been known as the nation's most dangerous profession. And until recently, Massachusetts fishermen were thankful that they could rely on the Fishing Partnership Health Plan. The innovative, cost effective health care program for harvesters and their families was once hailed as a potential model for a national health care system.

Unfortunately, the program is being dissolved.

According to the Gloucester (Mass.) Times, rising medical costs, market forces, a troubled Bay State economy, state tax policies, an aging fishing community, and the stringent regulations shackling the region's groundfish harvesters all have made it too difficult to continue the program. Its members will transfer into other similar large quasi-public health care programs.

But it'll cost them more for health coverage. That runs contrary to the mission of the Fishing Partnership plan, which was to provide lower-cost health care to a segment of the population that insurance companies are reluctant to cover — you know, because they work in the nation's most dangerous profession.

Now consider that funding for the Commercial Fishing Safety Research Program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was targeted for elimination from the 2012 federal budget.

Well, of course. Why would we need to continue to improve safety in the nation's most dangerous profession?

The commercial fishing community has come a long ways from the days when they didn't carry survival suits, routinely check safety equipment, and perform safety drills that could make the difference when disaster strikes and you must act without thinking. But apparently our elected representatives believe fishing can't be made any safer, so they're not going to bother allocating precious federal dollars to the NIOSH program.

Sigh.

So let's recap. Folks who work in the nation's most perilous industry must pay more for health care (if they can get or even afford coverage). And our federal legislators want to nix funding to improve safety in that profession. That sure sounds logical doesn't it?

Inside the Industry

According to the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Seaweed Festival has been canceled this year due to a rift between the event’s organizers and seaweed harvesters.

Read more...

The Downeast Salmon Federation has received a major grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to ensure and improve the water quality of eastern Maine’s most important rivers, according to the Ellsworth American.

Read more...

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