National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.




There's an intriguing story on gear development in the upcoming March issue of NF that could help lower Gulf of Mexico shrimpers' overhead and keep their boats fishing.

The region's shrimpers have been battling a number of problems in recent years — an influx of cheap foreign product that keeps dock prices low, rampaging hurricanes, and the BP oil disaster to name just a few. However, another serious problem that's kept vessels tied to the docks is the high cost of diesel fuel.

In the March issue's Gulf/South Atlantic market report, one Apalachicola, Fla., shrimper notes that given diesel costing $3.59 per gallon, and jumbo 16-20 count heads-on shrimp only bringing $2.30 a pound, it's barely worth leaving the dock.

But a March Boats & Gear story focuses on a promising new development that could help shrimpers significantly save on fuel consumption. Fairhope, Ala., shrimper Randy Skinner has developed a radically different way of keeping shrimp nets fully open that is called the Winged Trawling System.

It's a wing-shaped device made of marine-grade aluminum that Skinner says not only spreads the net apart to its full capacity, but eliminates the drag traditional trawl doors create as they're pulled through the water. And shrimpers can run their engines at a lower rpm because the power of the boat isn't needed to keep the net spread open. As a result, fuel consumption is greatly reduced.

The Winged Trawling System offers other intriguing benefits, too, so shrimpers will find the article well-worth reading. If the system works as well for them as it has for Skinner, the region's shrimp boats may once more spend more time at sea than they do at the docks.

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


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.

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