National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



It's become quite a week for acts of God on the East Coast.
First came Tuesday's 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia and was felt in many East Coast states.

Earthquakes of magnitude aren't a common occurrence on the Atlantic side of the country.

"It was unbelievable," says longtime NF contributor Larry Chowning, who writes for the Southside Sentinel in Urbanna, Va. "It only took about 15 seconds, but it seemed like it took forever."

While the earthquake shook buildings — and shook up residents a little — the good news is that it didn't affect Virginia's fishing industry. But there's no rest for the wicked; fishermen have turned their attention to the next crisis — Hurricane Irene.

In preparation for the storm, Virginia watermen will likely pull up crab pots to mitigate gear loss from Irene, Chowning says. Likewise, any crab pots that would usually be stored on docks will be moved to a more secure storage facility. There's also concern for the state's seafood processing plants that are situated right on Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

On Wednesday, Irene slammed the Bahamas, carrying 120 mph winds. The powerful storm, since downgraded to Category 2, is heading for North Carolina, where vacationers have been evacuated from coastal counties.

Fishermen from the Carolinas north to Maine are busy preparing to weather the storm, which forecasters say will track north along the East Coast. They're working to keep boats and fishing gear safe from damage as best they can.

Like the rest of the East Coast fishermen, Virginia watermen will be keeping a close eye on Irene.

"I assure you they're watching the weather," Chowning says. "But the crabs will know before we do."

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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