National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Sometimes it seems like fishermen must spend more time off the water just to preserve their ability to stay on it.

For example, in California, the state's Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 calls for a network of marine protected areas along its coast. Consequently, Southern California's commercial and recreational fishermen have teamed up to craft a proposal for marine protected areas

Fishermen fear that other stakeholders want to close off as much ocean as possible to fishermen and other users groups. The fishermen's proposal advocates a less stringent alternative that protects marine species while still allowing fishing in as many areas as possible.

Back east, New York commercial fishermen said last week they're opposed to new fishing regulations that could spring from a draft report developed by the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council.

Fishermen dispute the report's dire assessment of the state's commercial fisheries. They say fisheries are not in peril and that fish stocks are in good shape; they question the science the report relies on.

Moreover, in order to protect the state's natural resources, the council plans to recommend steps such as bans on fishing and establishing marine sanctuaries. Any further regulation, fishermen say, will imperil their livelihood.

The geography is different in both cases, but the fight is the same. Fishermen are battling to protect their livelihood. They'd rather be at sea than attending meetings ashore. But if they don't speak up and voice their concerns, who will? If it keeps them fishing — now and in the future — it'll be well worth the effort.

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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