National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Canada's governor general is sending those who'd shutdown Canada's seal hunt into cardiac arrest.

According to a BBC news report, Michaelle Jean, representative of Canada's head of state — none other than England's Queen Elizabeth II — helped to butcher and eat a seal. Jean used a traditional Inuit knife to help gut the animal and then ate a slice of raw heart.

BBC termed Jean's action "an apparent act of solidarity with hunters." Asked if she was sending the European Union a message, Jean was quoted as saying "Take from it what you will."

Canada's seal hunters (whose numbers include Inuit people) have long been under fire from animal welfare activists, who protest the clubbing of seals. Hence, the European Parliament recently voted in favor of a ban on Canadian seal products in protest against the hunting methods. The Inuits would be exempt from the ban, which still must be ratified by EU ministers and isn't likely to take effect until 2010.

On the other side of the coin, Atlantic Canada fishermen, whose cod fishery remains a shell of its former self, say the seal hunt is necessary. The seals, they say, eat plenty of cod, thus impeding the rebuilding of the region's cod stocks.

Regardless of which camp you're in, Jean's action is extraordinary for an appointed government official. It's difficult enough to get officials to support a cause, never mind get them to gut a creature and eat a slice of its heart raw.

That's pretty hard core commitment, wouldn't you say? Especially where political fallout is way more likely to be negative than positive. Whether you love or hate what she did, say this about Michaelle Jean: She isn't faint of heart.

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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