National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



If a crew member on your boat fell overboard, what would you do?

Or what if that crew member is you? Even though you didn't see your fall coming, would you still be wearing the right clothing and gear that could vastly improve your chances of being seen and recovered?

These are just a couple of at-sea incidents that fishermen have learned how to handle by attending the New Bedford Fishermen Safety Training program. The program, held at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology, is free for fishermen. Since its inception in 2005, some 884 fishermen have attended the morning-long workshops.

It teaches fishermen how to handle a wide variety of at-sea incidents, including man overboard protocol, firefighting techniques and equipment, flood damage control and use of dewatering pumps, emergency communications protocol, deployment of life rafts, EPIRBs, signal flares, and use of immersion suits.

You can read about my experience taking part in the immersion suit drill in the upcoming February issue of National Fisherman. I had the privilege of attending an October session of the program. And while the story focuses on the experience of going through the immersion suit drill, the training program covers a lot more ground than that. In the weeks ahead, I'll share some more of what I learned there in this space.

Fishing may never be safe, but safety instructors can teach a lot about how to increase your odds of surviving at-sea accidents.

In the meantime, if you'd like to get an idea of what the New Bedford Fishermen Safety Training Program is all about, check out this You Tube video that program officials have posted there and see it for yourself.

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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