National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) recently introduced a bill to create a national seafood marketing and development effort. Anyone in Congress wondering whether they should support the bill need look no further than the Fisheries of the United States 2011 report NOAA released this week.

NOAA reports U.S. fish and shellfish landings reached a 17-year high of 10.1 billion pounds worth $5.3 billion in 2011, up 1.9 million pounds and $784 million respectively from 2010 totals. The agency attributes the landings increase to higher catches of Gulf of Mexico menhaden, Alaska pollock and Pacific whiting.

According to the annual report, Americans gobbled up some 4.7 billion pounds of seafood in 2011, second only to China in seafood consumption. However, the report also shows that about 91 percent of the seafood U.S. consumers ate was imported. That's up 5 percent from 2010. Edible seafood imports totaled 5.3 billion pounds worth $16.6 billion in 2011.

The proposed nationwide seafood marketing and development program aims to increase value and create jobs in the seafood industry via a proposal that the National Seafood Marketing Coalition has drafted. According to Begich, some 75 fishing groups from around the nation's coasts support the proposal.

The coalition plan would establish a National Seafood Marketing Fund. Some $50 million would be available annually, though a sustainable income source for the fund remains to be determined. Five regional marketing boards comprising fishermen, large and small processors, and others in the seafood marketing, food service, transportation and retail sectors would be established to distribute the money.

"A national marketing and development program could help boost seafood sales and mean more jobs and stronger economies for our coastal communities," Begich said in his press release announcing the bill's introduction.

You'd like to think that in an election year, our esteemed legislators would be tripping over each other to cast a "Yes" vote for a program that could boost the economy and create jobs. But where Congress is concerned, take nothing for granted. If you'd like to see a nationwide seafood marketing plan established, write and call your Congressional representatives and get them to commit to voting for the bill.

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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