National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Who wouldn't feel a 25 percent hit in their income?

Maybe professional athletes, movie stars or rock stars wouldn't. They wouldn't be happy about it, but they could withstand it. I mean, if Jim Carrey goes from making $10 million per film to $7.5 million, I don't think he's going to be worried about making mortgage or car payments and putting food on the table.

But new rules for the 2010 season approved at November's New England Fishery Management Council meeting (though NMFS must still give final approval) could slash scallopers' revenue by 25 percent. Despite a healthy, well-managed and monitored scallop resource, the total allowable harvest will be lower because regulators are required to factor in "scientific uncertainty" about population numbers when setting the harvest limit.

Furthermore, days at sea will be cut from 38 to 29. And the number of trips to restricted access areas will decline from five to four.

Given all this, scallopers say they could be facing a 25 percent cut in their revenue next year. Roy Enoksen, president of New Bedford, Mass.-based Eastern Fisheries, which operates 23 scallop boats, told the New Bedford Standard-Times this week the changes translate into a loss of $250,000 to $300,000 per vessel.

The scallop industry will survive the cuts. But in a down economy, they sure don't help.

Hence, it's all the more perplexing that Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements force regulators to largely ignore socioeconomic factors that could give fishery managers greater leeway and mitigate the hit fishermen would take in these tough economic times.

Perhaps persistent industry prodding could convince our esteemed congressmen and senators to amend Magnuson-Stevens to give regulators that flexibility. I'm inclined to believe they'd be sympathetic to the cause. After all, how do you think they'd react to any attempts to cut politicians' income by 25 percent?

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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