National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Whether it's predicting weather or trying to assess fish populations, forecasting is a tricky business.

As the clock winds down on 2009, the snow is beginning to fly in earnest. It's looking like we're going to get socked with a snowstorm that will last into the new year by a day or two.

A couple of days ago, the weather forecasters told us it was looking like the snow probably wouldn't descend upon us until late Friday-early Saturday. Mother Nature has accelerated her timetable, which will likely make New Year's Eve festivities quite the adventure.

You could get ticked at the TV meteorologist, but weather forecasting ain't easy. Mother Nature doesn't often accommodate our desires, hence forecasts are bound to be wrong a fair amount of the time.

By the way, being a weather forecaster is the best job ever. You can be wrong the majority of the time, and not only keep your job, but be paid decently, too.

Likewise, fish don't readily accommodate federal stock rebuilding timetables. And it's equally difficult for marine scientists to accurately assess fish populations when the little buggers have the nagging habit of constantly swimming around.

Here's an area where weather forecasting and fish forecasting differ, though. My guess is far more dollars are devoted to studying the weather than they are to getting a more accurate handle on the health of fish stocks.

As for the likelihood that more federal dollars will be allotted for improving stock assessments? To quote Mr. Dylan, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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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