National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



I have spent the better part of this week sniffling, sneezing and coughing. I would say I've gone through a box and a half of Kleenex and have downed my fair share of Robitussin cough syrup.

Nonetheless, I consider myself a lucky guy. The common cold aside, I'm pretty healthy; I don't think I've had even a handful of sick days since I came to NF in late 1994.

And if I do find myself in need of medical attention, I'll be able to take advantage of our company's health care plan. You almost start to feel better just knowing that you're not going to have to worry about how to pay that bill that could easily drain your finances.

Fishermen aren't so lucky. Health care for fishermen and their families is expensive — and often too costly to buy.

The good news is that two bills championing a nationwide health care plan for fishermen (H.R. 5404 and S. 2630) continue to gain traction and bi-partisan support in Congress. So far, the Commercial Fishing Industry Health Care Coverage Act of 2008 has 26 co-sponsors, according to the Massachusetts-based Fishing Partnership Health Program.

The legislation is also getting support at the state level. Yesterday it was announced that California State Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced legislation calling on Congress and the President to pass the bills. Wiggins chairs the state Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.

That the program has gained such political support is attributed to the work of the fishing community organizations that have endorsed the legislation. Thus far 15 such groups spanning the nation's coasts have demonstrated their support, as have two nationwide organizations.

All the stars seem to be aligned to get the bills passed this legislative session — provided that fishermen and fishing groups continue to press their Congressional delegates to co-sponsor the bills. To learn more about the health care program and what you can do to help get the legislation passed, visit the Fishing Partnership Health Plan Web site (

Just think: If fishermen make enough phone calls, send enough e-mails and get their legislators to commit to sponsoring the legislation, there could actually be an affordable health care plan for fishermen and their families approved by year's end. Hey, I'm feeling better already.

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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Diversified Business Communications