National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



April 20 will mark the third anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon well killed 11 workers and some 200 million gallons of oil gushed into the gulf before the well could be capped. Fishermen are still dealing with the spill's effects, as we show in the April issue of NF.

In our Around the Coasts pages, we learn that the region's fishermen and residents are suffering from spill-related illnesses. Fishermen who participated in cleanup efforts and had direct contact with oil or dispersants are experiencing respiratory problems.

And in our 2012 Yearbook section, Hoyt Childers, our Gulf/South Atlantic bureau chief, looks at the difficulties the region's fishermen have had trying to figure out whether to participate in the class action suit based on a $7.8 billion settlement negotiated with BP last spring or to opt out and pursue individual lawsuits.

It's a difficult decision to make. Those participating in the claims process say it's cumbersome and the payments inadequate. Others find it difficult to obtain information that would help them determine which option is better for them.

Grand Isle, La., seafood dealer Dean Blanchard chose to opt out and has funded video testimonials by local fishermen to counter BP television pubic relations campaigns. Blanchard and 2002 NF Highliner George Barisich, a Louisiana shrimper, oysterman and fishermen's advocate, both appear in a documentary about the BP spill called "Dirty Energy."

Filmmaker Bryan D. Hopkins sought out the stories of Louisiana fishermen and local residents directly impacted by the spill. Here's a clip from the documentary of Blanchard talking about the use of chemical dispersant corexit in Grand Isle.

 The Cinema Libre Studio documentary likely won't generate the boffo box office numbers that your garden variety Hollywood blockbuster would. But if it can show viewers that the damage the spill has caused extends far beyond dollar values of lost revenue, it can hold its head up for bringing a story well-worth telling to the silver screen.

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


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.

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