National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Fishery management "logic" can make you scratch your head so much that you consider buying stock in Head & Shoulders shampoo.

Consider, for example, European Union efforts to have spiny dogfish listed with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Alas, dogfish stocks are in poor shape on the other side of the Atlantic.

Not that the U.S. dogfish population hasn't seen hard times. NMFS encouraged Northeast groundfish harvesters to target dogs and other "trash fish" that were deemed "underutilized." There wasn't much of a domestic market for them, and their toxin-loaded spikes made them literally and figuratively a pain to deal with.

But by the 1990s, harvests ramped up substantially, thanks to European dogfish demand. However, the dogfish population quickly dwindled as the larger females were scooped up.

A dogfish management plan was eventually created. And over the last decade, the dogfish population has rebounded significantly. Now, fishermen say, dogfish are so prevalent that the predator species may be hindering the cod population's recovery, one of the biggest bugaboos in the Northeast groundfish stock-rebuilding plan.

So of course the reward American fishermen receive for not targeting dogfish is Europe's push for the CITES listing, which could scuttle U.S. dogfish exports.

Likewise, U.S. bluefin tuna harvesters have made many sacrifices in the name of protecting the waning population of the popular and highly profitable fish.

So of course U.S. tunamen's reward for those sacrifices is to see the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas continually cut the U.S. quota while other ICCAT member nations completely ignore their catch limits and calls for conservation.

Hence, the message seems to be that if you fish sustainably, you will be penalized for the sins of the folks who don't. What kind of Bizarro World logic is that?

Hey, we wouldn't want to actually penalize and place restrictions on the nations actually responsible for damaging fish populations, would we?

Yeah, I didn't think so. Why, that's just crazy talk, right? Say, could you toss me that bottle of Head & Shoulders?

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


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.

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