National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



I don't know what's more chilling — the sub-zero temperature I woke up to this morning or NMFS' seeming insistence on gutting New England's small-boat fishing fleets.

I'm inclined to believe it's the latter. And that point was driven home by an article in the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times, which asserts that the goal of federal fisheries policy is to whittle down the small-boat fleets in New England ports.

I was a little stunned to see the assertion stated so plainly, although I'm not sure why, given the agency's love of quota-based management systems, which leave a lot of fishermen on the outside looking in. Certainly the increasingly onerous restrictions imposed upon Northeast harvesters over the past 15 years in the name of meeting Magnuson-Stevens groundfish stock rebuilding mandates have taken a toll on New England's small-boat fishermen — and their communities.

NMFS will say it's simply following the law. Maybe so, but in the process, too many small-boat fishermen are falling by the wayside.

If that's the intent, it's hard to fathom why. Our government is more than willing to give billions of dollars to save bloated, mismanaged financial institutions and automobile manufacturers. But it has no desire to help hardworking folks like the small-boat fishermen who have been providing food to American families for more than 400 years? That's a chilling thought, indeed.

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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