National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



While the One Percenters are bestowing bow-festooned luxury cars upon their loved ones this holiday season, fishermen would be more than pleased to find a revised Magnuson-Stevens Act under their Christmas trees this year.

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing this week on eight bills, all of which seek to alter the nation's federal fishing law. Some bills are a reaction to regional issues, others address national concerns.

In his opening statement during the committee hearing, Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) noted that when the Magnuson-Stevens Act was reauthorized in 2007, it "placed a new emphasis on science with the expectation that all of the eight regional fishery management councils would have the same high level of scientific information that the North Pacific Council has enjoyed for years. Unfortunately, we have learned that several regions of the country do not have frequent stock surveys or stock assessments and, with the current budget climate, that is unlikely to change."

Consequently, Hastings said, regulators have been erring on the side of caution and setting lower annual catch limits.

"Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, there has always been a balance between conservation and the full utilization of our Nation's fishery resources," Hastings said. "The trend toward more precaution in setting harvest levels has altered this balance and is resulting in lost economic opportunity and lost jobs."

No doubt at the top of fishermen's Christmas wish list would be a revised Magnuson-Stevens Act that provided for sound science (along with the funding for it), that relaxed artificial stock rebuilding deadlines, that gave greater weight to socio-economic data before regulations are implemented, and that prevented catch share management programs from being foisted upon fisheries that don't want or need them.

If it's amended that easily, then we could safely conclude that yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. The cynical Scrooges among us, however, believe it will be quite a battle to get Congress to approve a more flexible Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Well, if the Scrooges are right, then fishermen would be wise to badger their Congressmen and Senators until their elected representatives commit to voting in favor of a more flexible Magnuson-Stevens Act. It'd be well worth the effort, wouldn't it?

Inside the Industry

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.


The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is teaming up with leading shark-tracking nonprofit Ocearch to build the most extensive shark-tagging program in the Gulf of Mexico region.

In October, Ocearch is bringing its unique research vessel, the M/V Ocearch, to the gulf for a multi-species study to generate previously unattainable data on critical shark species, including hammerhead, tiger and mako sharks.

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