National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Like manna from heaven, a few ideas for improving U.S. fisheries management have miraculously popped into my head.

So what are these momentous thoughts that have wound their way into my wee pea brain? I'm glad you asked.

Well, for one, while adding flexibility to the Magnuson–Stevens stock rebuilding timetable (as proposed in House and Senate bills now wending their way through Congress) is a great idea, it's only a start. It should also be amended to give greater weight than Magnuson currently does to the socioeconomic consequences of proposed regulations upon fisheries and coastal communities.

Here's another thought. When, as seen recently in the Northeast herring and scallop fisheries, harvest quotas are significantly slashed because regulators must take into account uncertainty about the scientific data used to set catch limits, something must change.

It's not enough to be satisfied that the data being generated is "the best available science," and then require managers to take scientific uncertainty into account — basically because they're afraid the data is weak. Trying to manage fisheries without solid scientific data is a big problem.

And it's up to Congress to fix that problem. If saving the oceans is as big a priority as our federal officials say it is, then it's time Congress properly funded fish stock assessments.

Whining that Congress can't possibly set aside money in a down economy to fund fisheries research is forbidden. The tough economic times don't seem to be slowing spending down in Washington for anything else. Hence there's no reason not to pony up for something as vital as stock assessments that would greatly improve the quality of fisheries management.

There you have it. You offer me a penny for my thoughts, and I give you my two cents worth.

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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