National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Europe may scrap annual catch limits in favor of — wait for it — days-at-sea management.

That sound you just heard was New England groundfishermen doing a spit take.

U.S. fisheries managers and environmental groups tout annual catch limits as an important tool for promoting sustainable fisheries. Yet according to the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, Scotland, Europe's fisheries chief said Tuesday that maybe it's time for the EU to ditch ACLs.

Currently, Common Fisheries Policy practice regulates fisheries through a mix of limits on catch and days at sea. In his remarks, Joe Borg, the EU fisheries commissioner, says fish stocks could be managed by just regulating fishing effort. Limiting days at sea instead of harvest quotas, he says, will enable fishermen to catch as much fish as they desire.

Furthermore, jettisoning quotas in favor of days at sea "can be a very effective way of reducing the environmental impact of fisheries, and in particular of discards," Borg said.

Far be it from me to question the musings of our brothers across the pond. After all, they've clearly seen how well days-at-sea management has worked in New England.

But wouldn't it be ironic that just as U.S. fisheries managers are establishing annual catch limits for American fisheries, the Europeans may, after using them for 25 years, be walking away from them?

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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