National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



NOAA has long championed science as the foundation upon which the health of our nation's fish stocks must be based. But last week, it appeared that NOAA believed that a little magic would be helpful to help motivate employees at an upcoming leadership training session.

According to the Washington Post, NOAA had placed a $5,000 solicitation on the website on Wednesday. It sought someone who would create a "unique model of translating magic and principals of the psychology of magic, magic tool, techniques and experiences into a method of teaching leadership," during a one-day session for 45 employees, part of three-day conference for mid-level managers in June at NOAA's Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.

But news media criticism prompted NOAA to withdraw the ad on Thursday, the paper says. Critics panned the idea of hiring a magician for the training session just weeks after hiring of a mind reader for a 2010 conference came to symbolize a General Services Administration spending scandal that caused heads there to roll.

Now industry members chafing under the groundfish sector management program might say they understand NOAA's fascination with magic tricks. They believe the agency would like to make the region's small-boat fishermen disappear.

The Post notes that the $3,200 the GSA spent to hire a mind reader/motivational speaker was among the transgressions in an $823,0000 spending scandal for a 2010 conference in Las Vegas that cost the GSA its director and more than a dozen managers.

No doubt the GSA enjoyed performing magic tricks, too —it liked to make taxpayer dollars disappear. But the problem with magic tricks is that eventually, somebody pulls back the curtain and figures out what's really happening.

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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