In Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.
Friday, 27 April 2012
Back in the late 1960s, the Los Angeles Rams defensive line was known as "The Fearsome Foursome." Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bears middle linebacker, reportedly called the Rams' line of Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy and Deacon Jones the most dominant defensive line in football history.
They left plenty of NFL quarterbacks bruised and battered. These days, another Fearsome Foursome — cod, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic sturgeon and harbor porpoises —is causing New England fishermen plenty of pain.
Increasingly stringent regulations driven by cod's stubborn refusal to meet federal population thresholds have long been a thorn in fishermen's side. And thanks to a controversial 2011 stock assessment, fishermen must contend with a 20 percent catch limit reduction for Gulf of Maine cod stocks for 2012. Even greater cuts may loom in 2013.
Meanwhile, fishermen must also deal with an 80 percent slash of the total allowable catch for 2012 for Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, which swim along with more valuable commercial species. Recent data indicating diminishing yellowtail numbers fueled the decision to cut the catch limit from the 1,140 metric tons given last year to 218 metric tons for 2012.
Add to the cod and yellowtail cuts NMFS' announcement of a shutdown of prime Gulf of Maine pollock grounds in October and November to gillnets to reduce harbor porpoise deaths. Bycatch rates for the federally protected porpoises exceed thresholds set under a 2010 management plan, the agency says, thus triggering the two-month closure.
Last but not least is the prospect of restrictions that would aim to protect Gulf of Maine Atlantic sturgeon stocks, which NOAA designated as "threatened" earlier this year. The New England council discussed the possibility of developing sturgeon protection measures this week that could impact sink gillnet operations.
Like many a great quarterback, New England fishermen keep getting knocked down by formidable opponents, but they find it within themselves to keep getting back up again. The trick will be for them to continue to find a way to stay in the game.
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.