National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The whirring numbers at the gas pump are putting the squeeze on everyone these days.

This morning I read in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald about a convoy of commercial truck drivers from 25 states that's bound for Washington, D.C. Truckers are protesting the rising fuel costs that they say are evaporating their profits.

According to U.S. Department of Energy data, U.S. average gas prices have jumped from $2.86 a year ago to $3.50 as of April 21 this year. On the diesel front, prices skyrocketed from $2.85 last year to $4.14 this year.

Fishermen feel their pain. The Mobile (Ala.) Press Register tells the plight of shrimpers in Bayou La Batre. Their boats remain tied to the dock because of high fuel prices and low dock prices for wild-caught shrimp. The story notes that to cover fuel costs, a shrimper today must catch nearly 2 pounds of whole, head-on shrimp for every gallon of diesel burned.

Mix rising fuel costs with a steady supply of foreign, farmed-raised shrimp that depresses the wild-caught dock price, and you have a recipe for vessels tying up.

But the fuel crunch is affecting more prosperous fisheries, too. WPVI-TV in Philadelphia broadcast a story about how scallopers in Cape May, N.J., are wrestling with rising fuel costs. Diesel costs $3.75 at the Lobster House Dock in Cape May, meaning it'll run you $7,500 to fill a boat with a 2,000-gallon tank.

Scallopers are getting $7 a pound for their catch. But the fuel costs are quickly eating into the profit margin. And as in Bayou La Batre, some boats are tying up because the high diesel costs prevent them from making money.

Now I'm far from being an economics expert. But I see fishing boats and truckers unable to make money as fuel costs soar, and I don't even want to think about how the airlines are going to survive. I've even seen stories about folks here in Maine hocking household items just to have gas money to go to work and make it through the week.

All of which makes me wonder, if we're fast approaching a point where nobody can afford to buy fuel anymore, to whom, exactly, are the oil companies going to sell their product?

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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