National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Yesterday I saw something I wasn't sure I'd ever see: A letter to the editor written by a fisherman praising a daily newspaper's coverage of the commercial fishing industry.

But that's exactly what fisherman Russell A. Sherman of the Lady Jane did when he praised the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times for its coverage of the recent groundfish management battles that have taken place.

The paper deserves the kudos for its news coverage and its editorial stances. It's really made an effort to explore the issue and more importantly tell fishermen's side of the story.

For too long, the mainstream media has largely ignored fishermen in their coverage of ocean related issues. It's quick to run stories asserting that fish stocks are in crisis and happily quote dire predictions made by scientists and environmentalists. But quotes from fishermen are few and far between.

Thus, it's been refreshing to see the Daily Times really explore the fishing side of the argument. Likewise, papers like the Ellsworth (Maine) American, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head, N.C., The World in Coos Bay, Ore., and the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News have done more than give fishermen lip service in their coverage of commercial fishing.

These papers succeed in their coverage because they make sure voices of all stakeholders are represented in their stories, and they understand the communities they serve. And in a coastal community with an historic commercial fishing heritage like Gloucester, it's heartening to see the Gloucester paper serving its constituency so well.

In Sherman's letter, he notes that years ago his civics teacher taught that the cornerstones of democracy are a free and curious press and an independent judiciary. For too long, the mainstream press has lacked curiosity where commercial fishing is concerned. Here's hoping that the press' curiosity about the industry is growing.

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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