National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Is there a better example of someone keeping the faith than Job, the Biblical character who steadfastly endured numerous afflictions, yet never wavered in his beliefs?

In a test of his faith, Job loses his wealth, his livestock, his house, his servants, and his children — and that's just for starters. Somehow Job maintains his faith throughout it all, and he eventually gets all that he lost back with interest.

Had Job been one of the 32,000 plaintiffs still awaiting punitive damages checks from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, he might now, however, be raising an eyebrow. Were he still anticipating a Supreme Court decision over Exxon's challenge of the $2.5 billion punitive damages verdict, he might well cast his eyes heavenward and say, "OK, enough already. Lord knows I'm a patient guy, but this is a little too much."

As June arrived, the buzz was a Supreme Court ruling would be forthcoming this month, probably on a Monday. A couple of weeks passed, but no ruling was made.

Now we're getting down to the wire, as the Supreme Court adjourns at the end of June. According to a story in today's Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News , if a ruling isn't issued by the end of June, there's a possibility — however slim — that salmon fishermen may have to wait another year before the verdict is rendered.

Super. It's been reported that 6,000 of the original plaintiffs have died during the years of legal wrangling over the punitive damages sum. But, hey, what's another year if you've waited this long, right?

Well, here's hoping that we'll finally have a verdict on Monday that will lead to checks getting cut for all those who have suffered and endured over these many years. But in the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. Surely Job would agree.

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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