National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The Keep Fishermen Fishing rally in Washington, D.C., has come and gone, as have the buses that carried commercial and recreational fishermen alike to Wednesday's demonstration. So was the event a success? The answer may depend on the yardstick you're using.

If you're measuring its success by attendance, you may initially have doubts. According to a press statement issued by the Marine Fish Conservation Network, which opposes bills seeking to relax the Magnuson-Stevens Act's 10-year stock rebuilding mandate, crowd size was estimated as a paltry 300 people. Yikes!

But mainstream media news story estimates set the number of commercial and recreational fishermen attending as between 1,000 to 3,000 people. If it was closer to 1,000, then folks could argue that the demonstration didn't attract as many fishermen as the 2010 fishermen's rally did. Back then, fishermen similarly gathered in Washington to voice their dissatisfaction with increasingly stringent regulations that make it more difficult for small-boat fishermen to earn a living.

Of course, one could also argue that thanks to those onerous regulations, there may be fewer fishermen left to demonstrate than there were two years ago. However, the Gloucester (Mass.) Times cited reports indicating that some buses carrying fishermen to the demonstration site, which would have bumped up the attendance figure, got stuck in traffic in Manhattan and Delaware.

If crowd size was closer to 3,000, then the same number of folks attended as did in 2010. Moreover, Wednesday's rally reportedly attracted even more politicians than the 2010 one did. Politicians who are backing the fishermen-supported legislation to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act spoke at the rally, proclaiming their support for the fishermen's cause.

That alone suggests that fishermen are increasingly gaining the ears of federal lawmakers who have the power to bring about change. And if that translates into passage of bills that make the Magnuson-Stevens Act more fisherman-friendly, the rally will be deemed a success by the only yardstick that matters — action.

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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