In Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.
Friday, 25 May 2012
The headline on NF's March 1997 cover declared, "More pain ahead for New England." Who knew back then that the headline would still be relevant 15 years later?
According to the March '97 cover story, the crash of the region's groundfish stocks had brought harvest cuts totaling an estimated 35 percent in recent years. And the New England Fishery Management Council's Multispecies Monitoring Committee was recommending that fishermen's harvests be cut another 41 percent to help return groundfish stocks to healthy levels.
"Everyone knows what that means," wrote NF Executive Editor Clarke Canfield. "More regulations. More pain. More boats going out of business."
The statement still rings true today. Northeast groundfishermen are wrestling with a 22 percent cut in the Gulf of Maine cod catch limit, set at 6,700 metric tons for this year, brought on by the surprisingly low 2011 cod stock assessment.
Then in late April groundfishermen learned that the health of Georges Bank yellowtail flounder has been deemed equally dire, if not more so. Consequently, groundfishermen face an 80 percent cut in the Georges Bank yellowtail catch limit for this year.
That's a real problem for groundfishermen. It's difficult to catch the more valuable fish species without nabbing yellowtail, too. Once the meager yellowtail catch limit is reached — and it'll likely be reached quickly — the groundfishery will, by law, be shutdown for the year, pushing more fishermen to the brink of financial disaster.
Hence, the New England council seeks a way to mitigate the yellowtail cut. One possibility being explored is transferring yellowtail quota from the thriving scallop fishery to the groundfish fishery. Another possibility is negotiating with Canada for a greater slice of the yellowtail quota the United States and Canada share.
Meetings held this week here in Portland, Maine, and in New Bedford, Mass., yielded no easy answers. The New England Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Committee meets next week and will likely address emergency measures for this year's fishery.
But even if groundfishermen receive yellowtail quota from the scallop fishery or Canada, it won't fully alleviate the pain that the massive cut is bringing to a fleet whose ranks have already been thinning. Regardless of the solution regulators devise, there's still more pain ahead for New England.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body, a group of state, tribal and federal representatives from New England who are working to implement the National Ocean Policy and address critical New England ocean issues, is holding a series of public meetings in May and June.
The meetings are being held to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. The planning body seeks input on these goals and actions. Additional information on the group's progress can be found here.
The meetings will also provide an opportunity to review draft maps and products from initial efforts to gather information on the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation, energy and infrastructure, aquaculture, and recreation.