National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

So the latest solution being floated to solve the woes of the New England groundfish fishery appears to be an approximately $100 million vessel/permit buyout program. Haven’t we seen this movie before?

Yes, we have, and one need look no further than the NF archives for confirmation. In 1995, lagging groundfish populations spawned a $2 million pilot program to buy out 13 New England groundfish boats with hopes of reducing fleet capacity by 2.6 percent.

Vessels bought through the program were to be scrapped to ensure that fleet capacity would truly be reduced. The only problem was that boat owners who scrapped their vessels turned around and bought new ones.

By 1997, the pilot program had been followed by a more ambitious $23 million buyout program that initially aimed to remove 100 boats, although that total was later revised to 75 to 80 boats. Between the two programs, it was estimated that fishing capacity would be reduced by up to 23.6 percent.

And yet some 15 years later, even with the recognition that climate change and ecosystem shifts are taking more of a toll on groundfish than fishermen are, officials are still slashing away at fishing capacity. A vessel/permit buyout plan may further reduce fishing capacity, but it’ll also eliminate jobs, at sea and in New England communities where fishing remains a vital economic force.

This election year, plenty will be said about the need to stimulate our domestic economy and create jobs. If only such talk would translate into plans to, for example, spend $100 million to improve stock assessments through collaborative efforts that would partner fishermen with scientists.

What New England’s small-boat fishermen and fishing communities need is help to make it through these tough times rather than programs that seem destined to eliminate them.

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

Inside the Industry

EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
 
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NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

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