National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

lincIn Mixed Catch, NF Senior Editor Linc Bedrosian spotlights a wide range of commercial fishing-related news items from coast to coast.

According to my Merriam Webster dictionary, the word "truncated" is an adjective meaning cut short or curtailed. It was used fairly frequently during this morning's overview of the 2014 update of the Gulf of Maine cod stock assessment.

2014 828 GoM cod update v2 Page 01An overview of the 2014 update of the Gulf of Maine cod stock assessment began day one of a two-day peer review of the assessment. NMFS photoThe presentation by Michael Palmer of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass., kicked-off a two-day meeting being held in Portsmouth, N.H. The meeting's purpose it to determine whether the science center's updated stock assessment, which reflects stock condition through 2013, meets the set of specific tasks it was directed to address.

The science center completed the stock assessment update earlier this year as part of its effort to address council and industry requests for more timely information on stock condition and for advance notice when early indications of stock condition changes are seen. The science center has been working on ways to streamline the assessment update process.

The goal is to develop a process that can alert managers to changes observed in survey, catch or other data collected between full assessments. Gulf of Maine cod was chosen was chosen as a test case for this approach because a benchmark assessment was completed in 2013.

According to update data, Gulf of Maine cod numbers are still declining. Commercial catches have declined since 2011, as have discards. Truncation in the size/age structure is seen in commercial and recreational fleets. Occurrence of large fish is declining in the commercial fishery and is now absent from the recreational fishery.

And despite catch reductions, survey indices for science center, Massachusetts and New Hampshire surveys have declined to the lowest levels in the survey time series. The spawning stock biomass is estimated to be below 2,500 metric tons under two model scenarios.

Truncation in cod size and age structures is evident in all surveys, the update says. Moreover, there's no signal of incoming recruitment. You can see all of the updated assessment data for yourself by clicking here.

Fishermen were able to ask questions and offer their input on the morning presentation. They wonder why cod mortality is going up even though harvesters aren't coming close to catching their annual catch limit. How much of cod mortality, they ask, is because of factors like predation and climate change?

And like the cod population, they say, the groundfish fishery has been truncated, too.

"The directed cod fishermen are out of business," said Vito Giacalone of the Northeast Seafood Coalition. "They're no longer in the game." Where once day boats accounted for 70 percent of the landings, they now account for 5 percent, he said.

The peer review meeting continues tomorrow at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel, 250 Market St., Portsmouth, N.H.  If you're unable to attend the meeting, you can call (872) 240-3201 (the access code is 535-601-814) to listen to the proceedings and you can see graphics accompanying meeting discussions via a fee live webinar being broadcast. 

Add a comment

August may be racing past way too quickly and fall may be approaching far too fast for us folks in Maine. But I'm not quite ready to turn my thoughts ahead to a new school year (sorry, kids!), a new football season (YES!) or raking up autumn leaves (ugh) just yet. Instead, I'm focusing on the present. August, after all, is Maine Lobster Month.

According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the state's 2013 lobster landings hit 125.95 million pounds — the second highest total notched since the state and NMFS began keeping records — worth $364 million. That's a $22 million increase over the 2012 value and up $30 million from 2011.

The average ex-vessel price per pound paid to Maine lobstermen rose 20 cents from $2.69 to $2.89 last year. Even so, it was the second lowest price seen since 1995.

The department's report on Maine's 2013 landings notes that the low dock price underscores the importance of the work the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative is doing to promote lobster sales and consumption. The collaborative, which was established last year, replaces the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. Maine lobstermen, dealers and processors fund its marketing and promotion efforts, which aim to increase global demand for Homarus americanus.

2014 821 IMG 5564Lobster is Maine's most lucrative fishery. In 2013 Maine lobstermen landed 125.95 million pounds of lobsters, but the average dock price was but $2.89 a pound. Linc Bedrosian photoIt's hoped that adding in-state lobster processing capacity will bolster prices for soft-shell lobster. Developing value-added product forms that will broaden its appeal to restaurant chefs and younger seafood lovers could further increase lobster demand — and with any luck, ex-vessel prices, too.

There's no lack of creativity happening when it comes to preparing lobster dishes. I suspect that when most people think lobster, what comes to mind is boiling up bugs at home, cracking them open, extracting their sweet-flavored meat and dipping it in butter before popping it into their mouths.

Others may prefer a lobster roll. Several years ago, when my parents were visiting from Florida, my mom was determined to get a lobster roll at Red's Eats in Wiscasset. We waited in line for over an hour for the privilege, and were rewarded with toasted lobster rolls loaded with meat. It was well worth the wait.

But restaurant chefs are getting mighty creative with lobster dishes. An article in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News highlights eight of the most unique lobster dishes being served in Maine restaurants. Lobster dumplings, fried lobster tails and lobster tacos are just a few of the mouthwatering offerings the article presents.

And that's just the tip of the lobster-cooking iceberg. The marketing collaborative's website boasts a plethora of recipes lobster lovers can whip up at home. They'll find recipes there for whatever they crave — appetizers, breakfast dishes, dinner entrees, salads, soups and more. And cooking buffs can explore professional recipes that restaurant chefs have submitted.

So whether they opt for a simple boiled lobster or Braised Maine Lobster with Black Truffle Risotto Cake and Verjus Crème Fraiche, lobster afficianados should be able to find a dish that can help them celebrate Maine Lobster Month in fine style.

Add a comment

It looks like Maine officials have taken steps to make it easier for the state's fishermen to turn invasive green crabs into greenbacks.

Last week, Maine's Department of Marine Resources adopted rules that will make it easier for harvesters to catch and sell green crabs, which are proliferating and taking a toll on the state's shellfish populations, most notably soft-shell clams, the state's third-largest fishery.

Green crabs aren't new to Maine. According to DMR, Carcinus maenas, aka, the common shore crab, arrived in the 1850s, hitching a ride from Europe across the Atlantic in ballast water in ships. They were seen in Maine's Casco Bay in 1900 and had made it north to Jonesport by 1951.

IMG 0052Invasive green crabs pose a threat to Maine's soft-shell clam fishery, which is the state's third largest wild fishery. Department of Marine Resources photoThey've become a growing problem in recent years, the department says. The population boom has coincided with rising ocean temperatures. Today, their numbers have increased dramatically in some areas of the state.

They populate the soft-bottom intertidal zone, feasting on blue mussels and soft-shell clams. The clam fishery notched landings of nearly 10.7 million pounds worth $16.91 million in 2013, according to department data. Landings volume declined from the 2012 total of 11.1 million pounds, which officials attribute to the green crabs.

Now the department has adopted new rules that streamline regulations and better enable harvesters to collect the crabs and boot them from Maine's coastal waters.

The new rules allow Maine lobstermen to land green crabs that come up in their traps as bycatch. Lobster and crab license holders no longer need to obtain a green crab-only license in order to sell the critters. The department has eliminated harvester reporting requirements for green crab. And it's now legal to harvest the invasive species in the Sheepscot, Damariscotta and Medowmak rivers from Dec. 1 to April 30.

Moreover, Maine's Green Crab Task Force has announced it's conducting a targeted mail survey to individual harvesters and growers to get feedback on the effects of green crabs on Maine marine resources and habitat. The task force hopes the survey will help it learn how many survey respondents are encountering green crabs, if they've observed changes in local populations in recent years and whether there are ongoing effects on marine resources.

Moreover, Maine's Green Crab Task Force has announced it's conducting a targeted mail survey to individual harvesters and growers to get feedback on the effects of green crabs on Maine marine resources and habitat. The task force hopes the survey will help it learn how many survey respondents are encountering green crabs, if they've observed changes in local populations in recent years and whether there are ongoing effects on marine resources.

The task force will use those survey responses to develop solutions to the problem and in making recommendations to Gov. Paul LePage in the months ahead. Maine harvesters interested in taking part of the survey can contact Jenn McHenry by emailing her at jennifer.mchenry@maine.edu or via snail mail at the Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575.

Add a comment

Do you remember what it was like to be a greenhorn deckhand? Did you find it a daunting experience learning the fishing ropes? You stuck with it though, even when the work was tough, and you became good at your job. Question is, how well versed are you on the legal ropes of being a deckhand?

In our September cover story, "Operation: Get Paid," which begins on p. 22, commercial fisherman and freelance writer Nick Rahaim explores deckhand rights and what deckhands need to know to ensure that they're paid their fair share.

20140810 deckhandstory j"There is no more important way for captains and deckhands to protect themselves than a written contract signed by both parties," Rahaim writes. "After both parties read, agree to and sign a contract, there should be no question about pay, duration of employment, expenses and a deckhand's responsibilities."

But contract wording can be tricky and terms may not always be clear. Rahaim's article helps deckhands navigate their way through some of the wording and issues to watch out for and how they can best protect themselves.

What if you're injured at sea? Rahaim also delves into what injured seamen are entitled to receive. For example, Rahaim writes that while deckhands aren't entitled to workers compensation, there are ancient common law rights that are actually more generous.

Rahaim's article goes into much greater detail on all of this, of course. His story makes for truly interesting reading for deckhands and skippers alike. And the information contained within it can help deckhands make more informed decisions.

Add a comment

Tourism is a big part of Maine's economy. People visit Vacationland for a variety of reasons. Winter brings the skiers, summer brings outdoor enthusiasts who want to take advantage of our lakes and mountains and the beauty of our coastlines, and fall brings us foliage peepers.

But these days tourists want to get more out of their vacation than a good lobster roll and some retail therapy at L.L. Bean; they want authentic place-based experiences. They want to understand what Pine Tree State residents are like and how they make a living, and of course commercial fishing is a big part of that. The Downeast Fisheries Trail strives to give them the kind of experience and knowledge they seek.

dft-brochure-map-300x215The Downeast Fisheries Trail map directs visitors to 45 sites that showcase the coastal Maine region's fisheries. Downeast Fisheries Trail photo"More and more, people are looking for experiences that connect them to the people who live there," says Maine Sea Grant Marine Extension Associate Natalie Springuel, coordinator of the Downeast Fisheries Trail. "They want to learn how they live, they want to meet them, eat what they produce, learn how they're catching lobsters. They want to go home with stories about the place."

Well, the Downeast Fisheries Trail aims to please visitors to this area of coastal Maine located east of Ellsworth. It's an education trail that showcases active and historic fisheries heritage sites in Washington and Hancock County, including fishing harbors, clam flats, processing plants and other related public places. The goal is to educate visitors (and residents, too) about the significance of the region's maritime heritage and its importance to the area economy.

The trail was created in 2000 with the help of the Sunrise County Economic Council, the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, Maine Coastal Program, Quebec-Labrador Foundation, and the Maine Community Foundation. Initially, it encompassed 14 sites from Milbridge to Eastport in Washington County.

"These organizations recognized this was an opportunity to teach visitors about real people, our fishing history and how it connects to our culture," Springuel says.

Then the trail expanded in 2012 into Hancock County, with new sites selected with input from Down-East communities. Now the trail boasts 45 sites.

"There's a really big diversity of kinds of sites," Springuel says. "There are historical societies and little museums that cover local culture, but there are also places where people can see active working waterfronts."

The trail offers a balance of information about the region's fishing industry. Some sites are devoted to educating people about the industry's past. Others, like the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education and the Penobscot East Resource Center, focus on the fishing industry today, and efforts to secure its future, Springuel says.

"There are folks who are doing a whole lot of incredible work to maintain our fisheries and provide for their future. There's a clear commitment to showcase what some of this great work is doing," she says. "We're not just looking backward, but celebrating the fact that fisheries are still a really big part of our communities here."

Springuel says fishing industry feedback about the trail is positive. "It's been along the lines of, it's great to hear that there's an effort to tell good stories about us and the role of fishing in our communities," she says.

More and more visitors are discovering the trail, too. Trail officials are getting a "ton of requests" for the trail map from individuals, Chambers of Commerce, museums and historical societies.

It's likely the trail will continue to grow. For example, the next step may be incorporating places where visitors can buy locally produced seafood.

Since the trail's expansion in 2012, more suggestions for sites to add are being made. Springuel says the same mix of fishing and tourism industry representatives, historical societies and community centers who participated in the 2012 expansion will again be consulted.

"Back then, we asked them what are the places that really matter in your communities, that can tell a great story about fisheries in our region," Springuel explains. "And we asked, what should not be on a map — we wanted to be respectful of what the communities wanted."

The trail, she says, is about showcasing for locals and visitors what the region already has to offer, rather than creating anything new.

"It's about zeroing in on what makes our region unique, why people stay here, why they're at home here — what makes this place so special and unique," Springuel says. "It's really about highlighting that type of uniqueness."

Add a comment

This weekend the Boston Fish Pier will celebrate an impressive milestone. On July 27, the pier's centennial anniversary will be celebrated as part of the third annual Boston Seafood Festival taking place at the fish pier.

The festival will feature family-friendly activities and entertainment, as well as plenty of seafood offerings, including a lobster bake that the Boston Fisheries Foundation, which created the festival, is hosting. But the non-profit organization also weaves an education component into the festival offerings that teaches visitors about the region's historic fishing industry.

Certainly, the fish pier has played a big role in the industry's history. Located on Northern Avenue, the Boston Fish Pier, which opened in 1914, is the nation's oldest continuously working fish pier. And according to Robert Nagle, vice president of the foundation's board of directors, the fish pier had no equals when it opened.

"When it was built in 1914, it was the most modern fish processing pier in the world," Nagle says. It was fully automated for ice deliveries, had its own power plants, and had the capacity to hold an estimated 30 million to 50 million pounds of frozen fish, he says.

Rally FV America IMG 0176The dragger America sits dockside at the Boston Fish Pier, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Linc Bedrosian photoSail-powered vessels were the norm when the fish pier opened for business. At one point, the fish pier supplied over 2,000 jobs and served hundreds of boats, Nagle says. Originally, fishing industry companies and fishing families owned the pier. However, Massport, the independent public authority that owns the pier, assumed ownership in 1972. It has invested some $30 million through the years to modernize pier facilities.

This year, the seafood festival is celebrating the fish pier's history, but it's also teaching the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 visitors who attend the festival about how fishermen from Boston and other New England ports are responsible seafood harvesters who provide a delicious and nutritious product that also offers economic benefits to local communities.

The foundation, which formed in 2012, is working to educate the public about the industry. It strives to combat the often confusing amount of information that people receive about the fishing industry.

"This is a tremendously regulated industry, and people have worked hard to make sure there will be strong fisheries for the future," Nagle says. "When you buy a local seafood product, money is circulating in your region, and there's an economic efficiency to that."

The foundation also works to educate chefs about what species are available and when they're available so that they can promote them on their restaurant menus. It also hopes to develop a fisheries maritime museum devoted to telling the stories of the people who have created the industry's fishing heritage.

"There are so many hardworking fishing families," Nagle says. "There are people on boats, people on shore who work in transportation, delivering ice, fuel. There are the insurance companies the shipyards; it's been a very honorable profession. We help to feed people a great food product."

Add a comment

Fishermen just have a knack for telling stories. The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association believes that knack can help Maine harvesters re-establish their connection with coastal communities.

The Topsham-based non-profit group is working to protect and restore Maine's fishing heritage and its fisheries. One way it's doing so is through a new exhibit on display at the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust office in Harpswell. Their stories are part of a project called the Maine Coast Fishermen's Oral History Initiative.

"There are a lot of coastal communities that have lost their connection with fishermen," says Ben Martens, the association's executive director. "We tried to figure out ways to reconnect them."

Port Clyde draggersMaine fishermen in Port Clyde, Harpswell, Boothbay and Portland were interviewed as part of the Maine Coast Fishermen's Oral History Initiative. Linc Bedrosian photoThat connection has waned along with Maine's groundfish industry. "We've seen a major decline, from 300 boats in the early 1990s to last year 50 boats landing in the state of Maine," Martens says. "Maine's seen the largest percentage decline of people participating in this industry. This is a lobster-centric coast, but it wasn't always that way."

The idea of collecting Maine fishermen's stories grew out of that effort to re-establish the bond with coastal communities.

"I love sitting down with the guys I work with and hearing their stories about growing up and working on the water, " Martens says. Collecting fishermen's stories emerged as a way to educate the public about Maine's groundfish fishery, and why it's important to protect it and the fishing communities that depend on it.

Work on the oral history project began last summer after the association received a grant from the Maine Humanities Council to collect the stories. "We focused on fishermen we work with in the association, guys who'd be comfortable talking," Martens says.

The association hired oral historian Josh Wrigley to conduct interviews with a variety of fishermen, primarily from Port Clyde, Harpswell and Boothbay, plus a couple from Portland. Photographers Collin Howell, Andy Bustin, Scott Sell and David Bates went out to snap the shots that accompany the interviews, in which fishermen talk about what they do and how the industry has changed through the years.

"We wanted to make these stories more accessible for people and be able to link them to very cool images of these guys lives out on the water and down by the water," Martens says.

This past summer, the association tasked Bowdoin College intern Audrey Phillips with finding one- or two-minute segments from the interviews to use in each video. The multimedia exhibit, funded in part by the Maine Humanities Council, the Island Institute and The Nature Conservancy, features 13 short videos, including the one below of Port Clyde fisherman Gary Libby.

The exhibit debuted this week at a reception at the land trust office in Harpswell. About 50 people attended the opening, and Martens says he's pleased with reaction to the exhibit.

"People love to hear stories told by fishermen. We were thrilled by the way people responded to it," he says. "It was a cool little event. We cooked up scallops from Maine Dayboat Scallops on the grill to kind of give people a taste of some of the seafood they were hearing about fishermen going out and catching."

Martens says the exhibit can be taken to galleries and coffee shops, too. Exhibit photographs include a quick response, or QR, code that visitors can scan with their smartphones to listen to accompanying interview segments.

"We're sharing our stories with other Mainers," Martens says. "But if other places around the country show interest, it's easy enough to transport the exhibit around to different places."

The exhibit will be open at the land trust office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Tuesday, July 22. But even if you don't live in Maine, you can check out all the videos for yourself by clicking here

The association hopes to continue collecting fishermen's stories, conducting interviews in other Maine ports, Martens says. With a little luck, the association will be able to continue sharing fishermen's stories with their fellow Maine residents.

 

Add a comment

If you're lucky, you find your passion for what you want to do in life at an early age. I think a lot of fishermen are lucky that way. Tyler Bourg, the subject of our August cover story that starts on page 24, is lucky that way, too. 

Tyler, 11, fishes for shrimp out of Dulac, La., aboard a 28-foot boat that's named after him — the Lil T. It's his boat in all but the title; boat payments come out of his share of the shrimping proceeds he's earning.

NF August14 TylerBourgYoungShrimper300pxHe can't operate the vessel solo yet; his dad, Kyle, a part-time shrimper, accompanies him on shrimping trips and Tyler's mom, Mitzi, often does, too. Nor can Tyler have a gear license in his name until he's 18.

But Tyler lets you know in no uncertain terms that he is very clear on his identity.

"I am a shrimper," he told NF correspondent John DeSantis, senior staff writer at the Tri-Parish Times in Houma, La. "The boat never leaves without me on it, and I am the one driving it the most."

Tyler's story is one that will resonate with fishermen's sons in Louisiana and all around the country. Almost as soon as he could walk, he was on a shrimp boat. His earliest shrimping memories were made aboard his grandfather's 50-foot wooden trawler. Those trips hooked him on fishing. Now he's mapped out his whole fishing life.

Time was you could find plenty of Tylers working on their family boats and learning the fishing ropes. But a combination of devastating hurricanes, the massive Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and a flood of imported shrimp that over the years have depressed dock prices may have made Louisiana fishermen more reluctant to encourage their children to follow in their footsteps.

Perhaps so. But I also think there will always be youngsters like Tyler, who will be bitten hard by the fishing bug. Even at 11, Tyler knows factors like fuel costs and fluctuating global markets can make the shrimping life a tough one.

But he's a young man with a plan and a passion for shrimping. My money is on Tyler and all the other future fishermen out there like him. He's lucky. He's already found his passion for what he wants to do in his life.

 

enews2Don't forget that you can get
fishing news headlines delivered
right to your inbox by subscribing
to
our twice-weekly e-newsletter

 

 

 

 

Add a comment

The idea of encouraging U.S. consumers to buy locally caught seafood is beginning to get a little publicity in the mainstream press. For example, the New York Times Sunday Review ran an interesting essay by author Paul Greenberg that explores how American consumers have lost their connection with the seafood that U.S. fishermen are harvesting.

"Globalization, that unseen force that supposedly eliminates inefficiencies through the magic of trade," Greenberg writes, "has radically disconnected us from our seafood supply."

20140624 DSC 2889 ibss2012 acShrimp is a favorite of American seafood consumers, but much of what they purchase is imported. Angela Coulombe photoGreenberg's new book, "American Catch" explores why so much of the seafood eaten in this country comes from abroad. He examines New York oysters, Gulf of Mexico shrimp and Alaska salmon in an attempt to find out why today 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat is foreign and why so much U.S. caught fish ends up in overseas markets.

On Friday, Greenberg appeared in Belfast, Maine, along with Maine seafood advocate Monique Coombs, and Barton Seaver, author and director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Harvard School of Public Health, on Friday, presenting an address called "Why We Need to Eat More Local Seafood."

They're right, people do need to eat more local seafood. I suspect that the average person who picks up a shrimp ring from their supermarket's seafood department probably doesn't know that they're likely buying foreign farmed shrimp. They just know they're getting something they enjoy scarfing down for a low price.

Still, more attention must be paid to developing U.S. consumer demand for domestic seafood. Thankfully, campaigns are increasingly being developed and undertaken to establish a greater connection with consumers (see our July cover story for some great examples of marketing programs taking hold around the country).

Educational programs are teaching consumers about how their seafood is harvested and the stringent standards U.S. harvesters adhere to make sure their catch is caught sustainably. They're learning that buying wild American seafood is a delicious, nutritious and responsibly harvested choice.

Still if more U.S. caught seafood is to remain at home instead of being sent to markets abroad, we must figure out a way to seriously increase seafood consumption in this country.

When I began working for NF in late 1994, per capita seafood consumption that year stood at 15.2 pounds per person. According to the latest NMFS statistics, domestic seafood per capita consumption was 14.4 pounds in 2012, down 0.8 pounds from the 2011 total of 15 pounds.

Per capita beef consumption on the other hand, is predicted to fall to 54 pounds this year.

If we want to U.S. fishermen and fishing communities to thrive, then we have to keep developing ways to make seafood more attractive to American diners, be they the cooking impaired or foodies. The good news is that locally harvested U.S. seafood is a wonderful product that should greatly benefit from strong marketing campaigns.

Add a comment

The New England Fishery Management Council and the city of New Bedford both had Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization on their minds this week.

The council is meeting here in Portland, Maine, this week, and Tuesday afternoon, they heard Tom Nies, the council's executive director, deliver a briefing on the Senate draft version of legislation to reauthorize the nation's fishing law. The Senate version differs from the House version, H.R. 4742; Nies noted that the Senate draft version doesn't address many of the issues that the council has identified as important, such as providing greater flexibility to the act's stock rebuilding time limits.

Council member David Pierce, deputy director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, added that the draft version didn't address any of the National Research Council's comments on improving fisheries management, which he said would go a long ways toward fixing problems with the law. 

"Congress can benefit from the comments by renowned scientists, which should be embraced," he said.

"I see this document increasing complexities," added at-large council member Mike Sissenwine. "It would be a real challenge for the agency to work up guidelines."

While Nies noted that an updated version of the Senate draft should be coming forth soon, council members agreed it was important to submit comments on the present version addressing general concerns the council has, such as a lack of clarity and inconsistencies in draft provisions, and encourage the senate to include the research council's recommendations.

"It's important to note what's been omitted and restate our hopes for the original bill," said council member Laura Ramsden of MF Foley Co. in New Bedford, Mass.

groundfish port report new bedford printer.pdf-1Meanwhile, that very afternoon New Bedford, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious fishing ports, released a plan that its harbor commission has developed to revitalize its groundfish industry and the port

It makes for fascinating reading. The harbor commission has really thoroughly documented the decline the port's groundfish fleet has experienced in recent years, and the effect that decline has had on related businesses and the community.

It's also developed a six-point plan for turning the groundfish fleet's fortunes around. At the top of the list is improving groundfish stock assessments via the expanded use of video survey technology developed through the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology.

The video surveys are patterned after the same techniques used to revolutionize scallop surveys more than a decade ago. Thanks to those surveys, the thriving scallop fishery accounts for 85 percent of the port's landings today.

The plan also sets forth recommendations for reforming the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It advocates clarifying the act's National Standards and reducing their total number from 10 to five.

It also calls for maximizing yield within constraints set by regulations; basing conservation goals on the scientific data that would be derived from collaborative research between the government, fishermen and marine scientists; minimizing bycatch; considering fisheries' respectively unique distinctions when setting management goals; minimizing costs; and considering efficiency when allocating resources, including noneconomic considerations.

Moreover, the plan recommends changing how fisheries are managed, clearly defining NOAA's role in fisheries management and establishing ways to measure the performance of fisheries management plans. It, too, recommends relaxing the 10-year stock rebuilding requirement, plus increasing cooperative research efforts and creating new scientific working groups as a means of improving the review process.

It's interesting to see how the region's managers, fishermen and ports are weighing in as the Magnuson reauthorization process rolls on. At this point, given that election season is looming, it appears unlikely that Congress will churn out an amended Magnuson-Stevens Act by year's end.

Clearly views on Magnuson differ among fishermen, depending on what region they hail from, and they differ on Capitol Hill between the House and the Senate. But it's also clear that in New England, where groundfishermen and the communities that depend on them are struggling to hold on, an amended Magnuson-Stevens Act can't come too soon.

Add a comment

Page 3 of 29

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14

In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.

Inside the Industry

NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.

Read more...

Fishermen in Western Australia captured astonishing footage this week as a five-meter-long great white shark tried to steal their catch, ramming into the side of their boat.
 
Try a FREE issue of National Fisherman

Fill out this order form, If you like the magazine, get the rest of the year for just $14.95 (12 issues in all). If not, simply write cancel on the bill, return it, and owe nothing.

First Name
Last Name
Address
Country
U.S. Canada Other

City
State/Province
Postal/ Zip Code
Email