National Fisherman

The Sorting Table 

sorting table iconThe Sorting Table features stories from National Fisherman contributors and guest bloggers.

On Wednesday, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center held a series of outreach meetings throughout New England to discuss the state of groundfish in the region and upcoming assessments of 20 stocks of the multispecies complex.

2015 0723 Sorting Table GroundfishOff-loading groundfish in Portland, Maine. Jerry Fraser photo.The information gathered during the assessments will be used to set annual catch limits. Recreational and (effectively) commercial codfishing have been closed in the Gulf of Maine because modeling data has not shown recovery of the stock despite a severe reduction in fishing effort. Preliminary survey data suggests that the quota could be lowered again.

One fisherman at the meeting in Portland, Maine, argued that the data can’t be accurate and that the surveyors and scientists working on the research project need the knowledge of local fishermen to get more accurate data from their trawl surveys.

“I think the survey’s too thin,” said Jim Odlin, trawl fleet owner and 2010 NF Highliner, during the meeting.

Odlin, along with other members of the industry at the meeting, said the cod population has recovered enough in the Gulf of Maine to see a higher quota and that fishing vessels are even avoiding certain areas in order to stay away from cod.

Odlin said his sector had voluntarily shut down operations at Platts Bank, or New Ledge, because there were simply too many cod. The risk of catching the choke species was too great to fish for other species there. The fleet spends a lot of time avoiding fish, he added.

But when the researchers fished for samples in that same area, they caught zero cod. Representatives from the science center explained that they look at a variety of fishing grounds while gathering data, not just hot spots, but industry folk said fish patterns are too unpredictable to base quotas on a single day.

Some days there are fish; some days there aren’t. Some tows bring in fish; some don’t.

Basing catch limits for a year or three on a single survey is problematic, especially when fishermen agree that researchers are towing in the wrong areas to begin with. Add that to the fact that the survey won’t include updated information on changes in natural mortality, reference points or new data streams, like cooperative research projects.

At the meeting, fishermen and science center reps agreed that there could be better communication between the two parties to help facilitate research and even discussed the possibility of conducting future surveys using working fishing vessels and crews.

The comments made at these meetings, which also took place in Gloucester, Woods Hole and New Bedford, Mass., were recorded, and the feedback from the community will be included in a final report.

Hopefully, something comes of this feedback, and we learn that what the fishermen see on the water and understand about their fisheries will count for something.

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Freelance writer Victoria Minnich writes to tell us she’s been working the Wild West booth at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, a San Diego venue that allows local fishermen to sell their catch directly to the public. The market is down the street from Comic-Con, which helped to inspire Victoria’s Old Glory Rockfish illustration.

2015 0702 RockfishDockside is an open-air market that carries the whole spectrum of seafood from a diversity of local fishing operations, ranging from small fishes (rockfish, sheephead, blackcod, sculpin, cabezon, ling cod) to larger fishes (yellowtail, white sea bass, albacore, and more unusually, yellowfin and bluefin tuna). And of course, we have our share of invertebrates (rock crab, box crab, spiny lobster, sea urchin, whelks, octopus, squid, etc.). It's fun when one of our fishermen is able to sell a completely oddball seafood item, like a wolf eel!

The market is closed on the Fourth, so get there by Friday to pick up your fresh, local catch. Wherever you are, we hope you’re eating American seafood on Independence Day. Happy Fourth!

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It's been five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. We know how much crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico — more than 200 million gallons — but the scope of its impact upon the region's marine life remains unclear.

Fears about the safety of eating gulf seafood have eased, and demand for it is there. But the region's fishermen are still struggling to regain their footing.

In this video, WDSU-TV in New Orleans takes a look at how the spill has affected the fishing industry in Grand Isle, La., one of the places hardest hit by the spill.

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Stakeholders from all streams of Michigan’s fisheries came together for an inaugural Seafood Summit on Thursday, March 12, in East Lansing. The Sea Grant event ambitiously united the Michigan Fish Producers Association (wild caught), Michigan Aquaculture Association (aquaculture), Great Lakes Chef Alliance, state legislators and Michigan Sea Grant staff to celebrate a common ground: Michigan Fish.

2015 0326 HughesEric and Amber Petersen with state Rep. Holly Hughes (R) at the first Michigan Seafood Summit.Workshops focused on Michigan’s established wild fishery and its emerging aquaculture industry and gave more than 100 attendees plenty of brain food. If fishermen felt uncomfortable, it was probably because aquaculture enthusiasts outnumbered them nine to one. The summit was a sober reminder of Michigan’s dwindling wild fishery and the state’s growing interest in aquaculture.

Farm-raised fish makes up more than 50 percent of an average seafood eater’s diet, and the United States is importing more than 90 percent of its seafood to fill American demand. As Michigan investigates the possibility of becoming an aquaculture leader, fishermen are faced with a hard question: How do we survive yet another threat to our livelihood?

Through a crippling history of invasive species, poor management, Tribal Consent Decrees that closed fishing grounds, and ultimately the conversion to a recreational fishery, Michigan’s commercial fishery has dwindled from hundreds of fishers to 35. In a state that boasts the most diverse freshwater fishery in the nation with more than 153 species, it relies on one species, the lake whitefish, to make up 90 percent of its commercial catch. It is little wonder that aquaculture advocates see Michigan as prime grounds to establish a leading aquaculture industry.

2015 0326 SummitThe inaugural Michigan Seafood Summit's program addresses the dichotomy between wild and farmed fish.Michigan was one of the hardest hit states during the recession, leaving at its peak a statewide unemployment rate of 14 percent, with Detroit at 26 percent. We are beginning to recover, but it is a slow crawl. It would be irresponsible for state legislators to not investigate new small business opportunities. It would be equally irresponsible to disregard an already established branch of the same business the state looks to expand. Events like the Seafood Summit will be important for the balanced growth of Michigan’s wild and aquaculture industries, because both industries benefit from more Michigan fish on Michigander’s plates.

The closing banquet filled attendees’ plates and really stole the summit. It began with an hors d’oeuvres table loaded with Michigan produced seafood: wild whitefish liver mousse, cured lake trout with tomato jam, smoked lake whitefish and golden whitefish roe on caraway crackers, farm-raised smoked rainbow trout mousse and shrimp in diavola sauce on a fried saffron polenta cake. Each dish was paired with Michigan beer or wine, complements of New Holland Brewing in Holland, Mich. s

Smoked whitefish with a chestnut mushroom soup, grilled shrimp with cabbage cranberry ginger slaw, smoked trout over squid ink linguine, pecan-crusted rainbow trout and cornmeal crusted lake whitefish, again paired with beer or wine, filled out the five-course dinner. Hats off to Chefs Mathew Green, Matthew Millar, Michael Trombley Jenna Arcidiancono and Bradford Curlee for embracing Local Fish!

Amber Mae Petersen is the owner of the Fishmonger’s Wife, a fish wholesale, retail and processing business in Muskegon, Mich., and the wife of a fourth-generation Lake Michigan whitefish fisherman, Eric Petersen, who serves as president of the Michigan Fish Producers Association.

Want to see more? Check out our slideshow of Eric and Amber at work.

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Top10 feb

Each day, our editors scour news outlets from across the nation and the globe to find and share with you the most interesting and most relevant stories about commercial fishing. We update our site each morning with the latest news on regulations, sustainability and market trends -- everything you need to make informed decisions about your business.

But we know it's not always possible for those who work at sea to check in with us daily.  So here's a handy list of the 10 most-read online news stories from the past 30 days. 

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Top10 graphic 12DecemberEach day, our editors scour news outlets from across the nation and the globe to find and share with you the most interesting and most relevant stories about commercial fishing. We update our site each morning with the latest news on regulations, sustainability and market trends -- everything you need to make informed decisions about your business.

But we know it's not always possible for those who work at sea to check in with us daily.  So here's a handy list of the 10 most-read online news stories from the past 30 days. 

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Top10 BlogsFrom boat design to reality TV, these are the most-read blog posts by National Fisherman editors in 2014. 

Top 10 blogs of 2014

1. Why I don't like Cold River Cash

2. The ones left behind

3. Big fish, small island

4. Oceana's dirty tactics

5. Slideshow: These classics are not relics

6. Guns, sinkings and fishermen’s justice

7. Captain Keith is chasing crabs — not drama

8. Is 49 the new 58?

9. Dungeness day job

10. One, two or three hulls?


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




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Top2014storiesAs a new year approaches, here's a look back at the most-read online news stories from the past year. From record catches to at-sea rescues, these are our most popular news stories of 2014. 

Top 10 stories of 2014

1. Opinion: Time for 'Deadliest Catch' to go home

2. Human skull found in crab pot near Westport

3. Crew of capsized Alaska boat rescued

4. Crab nab nets 150 illegal pots

5. Gillnetter accused of letting 103 salmon rot

6. Fishing vessel explodes in Valdez Harbor

7. Icelandic fisherman catches 110 pound cod

8. Sardine crash prompts uncertainty

9. New salmon predictions are looking awesome

10. Alaska judge rules for Pebble Mine


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




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When I got the call from Kevin Wark about his new boat, I could tell from the excitement in his voice that he had gotten something special.

"It's all composite. There's not a stick of wood," Wark told me. That got my attention. Like the other gillnet captains from Barnegat Light, N.J., he came up in the fleet on traditional hulls from long-established Maine builders, like the 38-foot Bruno that I rode on with him on my first monkfish trip more than 20 years ago.

20141204 nfJAN2015 BoatbuildingIn the January issue you can read about the building of Wark's new boat, the Dana Christine II, a Mussel Ridge 46 from master builder Albert Hutchinson of Hutchinson Composites in Cushing, Maine. The story begins on page 28.

The Hutchinson boats have won a following with their ability for seakeeping, load carrying and good speed with fuel efficiency. The secret is the hard-chine hull, Hutchinson says.

A stretched version of the Mussel Ridge 42, Dana Christine II carries its wheel and rudder four feet farther forward and its engine and drivetrain lower in the hull. That makes for remarkable handling says Wark, a 2012 NF Highliner Award winner.

"The boat just follows the gear around because the rudder's so far ahead. It's like having a thruster," he says.

That's a big help when retrieving a gathered net over the stern. But the boat is also designed for Wark's monster fishing: federally permitted tag-and-release of endangered Atlantic sturgeon with a research team from Delaware State University. Come April, they will be doing it again off the Delaware beach on the new boat.

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2014.11.20 floor2Pacific Marine Expo 2014


Greetings from Pacific Marine Expo 2014! Here's a quick peek at some scenes from the show floor.

Start the slideshow >>

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National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

SeaShare, a non-profit organization that facilitates donations of seafood to feed the hungry, announced on Wednesday, July 29 that it had partnered up with Alaska seafood companies, freight companies and the Coast Guard, to coordinate the donation and delivery of 21,000 pounds of halibut to remote villages in western Alaska. 

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard loaded 21,000 pounds of donated halibut on its C130 airplane in Kodiak and made the 634-mile flight to Nome.


The New England Fishery Management Council  is soliciting applications for seats on the Northeast Trawl Survey Advisory Panel and the deadline to apply is July 31 at 5:00 p.m.

The panel will consist of 16 members including members of the councils and the Atlantic States Fishery Commission, industry experts, non-federal scientists and Northeast Fisheries Science Center scientists. Panel members are expected to serve for three years.

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