National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Two years down the road, how do we measure the impact of the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill upon Gulf of Mexico commercial fishermen?

Well, for one thing, the fact that we're still talking about the 2010 spill indicates the region is still recovering. Here's a sampling of spill-related stories we've seen in the week leading up to Friday's unhappy anniversary:

• The FDA says consumers shouldn't be alarmed by photos of Gulf of Mexico finfish bearing sores and lesions. Diseased fish aren't allowed to be sold, the agency says, and the percentage of diseased fish found is low. Furthermore, testing by state laboratories of more than 10,000 fish and shellfish for traces of certain chemicals found in oil occurred before commercial fishing was ever allowed to resume, the agency says, and the testing showed levels are far below amounts that could make anyone sick.

• Still, a recent study conducted by Wes Harrison, a Louisiana State University professor of agribusiness marketing, reveals that 70 percent of people in the United States remain wary about the region's seafood, and 30 percent nationally say they won't eat gulf seafood because of the spill. Consequently, a nationwide Gulf of Mexico seafood marketing effort will strive to dispel those negative consumer perceptions. BP is donating $50 million for the campaign.

• The Justice Department has announced that more Gulf Coast residents harmed by the spill but whose claims with BP's compensation fund were wrongfully denied will receive more than $63 million in additional payments.

• A federal judge is pondering a proposed class-action settlement plan crafted by BP and lawyers representing more than 100,000 people and business that aims to resolve billions of dollars in spill-related claims.

The stories offer a glimpse of the oil spill's impact upon commercial fishing in the gulf. But even two years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon well, which claimed the lives of 11 oil rig workers, we still don't know the extent of the damage to the marine environment and its fishy inhabitants, nor how long it will take the region's fish and fishermen to be made whole. We can only hope it will be soon.

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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Diversified Business Communications