National Fisherman

By Maureen Donald

A major shake-up at the North Carolina Fisheries Association, one of the country's oldest trade associations representing the commercial fishing industry, has resulted in a new leadership team that includes a familiar face.

brentReturning after nearly a decade, 18-year association veteran Jerry Schill, holds the reins again as executive director. Brent Fulcher of B&J Seafood in New Bern and Beaufort Inlet Seafood in Beaufort, is the newly elected chairman of the association's board of directors.
According to Fulcher, seen at left, the timing is right for a revamped, revitalized association.

"There's a new energy evident within the industry," says Fulcher, seen at left. "People are realizing that we must work together in order to effectively influence our future. It's time for our industry to act as one, not as separate self-absorbed components."

jerrySchill, pictured at right, has broad experience on both the local, state and federal levels and says he is ready to get started — again.

"I sense a very different attitude in the industry today," Schill says. "Folks are ready to be participants and take an active part in the process, not simply sit back and complain about it."

"With Jerry's past experience I have no doubt this organization will be a strong voice for the seafood industry in North Carolina," Fulcher says. "We have made progress this past year with issues regarding the game fish bill and shrimp trawling. People want to keep that momentum going."

After a two-year absence, the association newspaper, Tradewinds, also underwent a transformation and began publishing again in April.

Photos: Brent Fulcher, chairman of the board of directors, and Jerry Schill, executive director, N.C. Fisheries Association; N.C. Fisheries Association

 

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By Leslie Taylor, National Fisherman Online Editor

As I'm relatively new to the commercial fishing beat, my visit a couple of weeks ago to the Portland Fish Exchange, the nation's first seafood display auction, was eye-opening for me. I had never really thought much before about the mechanics of the process that takes a fish from the hands of the fisherman who caught it to my grocery counter. 

I was at the Portland Fish Exchange in Portland, Maine, to shoot a video with National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser about the advantages of fish as a protein option, particularly with the rising costs of beef and poultry. The video is embedded below.

The Casco Bay was shrouded in fog when we arrived at the Portland Fish Exchange at around seven in the morning to meet Bert Jongerden, general manager of the exchange. Because Jongerden has been general manager of the exchange since 2007, and also worked there from 1990-1996 as an operations manager, he has, as he said, "seen the rise and fall of our groundfish." He's seen groundfish landings go from 30 million pounds per year to about 5 million pounds per year. 

05.08.14 fishexchangeAs the fog burned off, we did some filming and Jerry and I chatted with the exchange employees smoking on the pier, waiting for the arrival of the fishing vessel Robert Michael. Approximately 70 fishing vessels sell their catch via the Portland Fish Exchange and what makes this market unique is that it's an all display auction. Seafood buyers don't just bid generically on fish, they can bid on a specific load of fish. So fisherman can get a higher price for fish that are in the best condition.

Using a block and tackle, the guys hoisted large blue buckets filled with pollock, redfish, cod and hake from the hold of the Robert Michael and dumped them down a chute into the sorting facility. The fish first landed in a basin where excess water could drain, then were pulled up a conveyer belt towards a team of Grundens-clad employees who culled the fish by type, quality and size.

05.08.14 fishexchangeThe fish were sorted into plastic tubs and iced. One employee manned the computer station, using what looked like a price gun you might see at a checkout counter to scan the barcode associated with each fish size and quality, then printed out labels for the tubs.

The tubs of fish were then whisked by forklift to the floor of the exchange's giant refrigerated warehouse, where they could be examined by buyers in anticipation of the day's auction. Auctions are held at 11:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and there are about 20 buyers who are quite active participants, Jongerden explained. 

The auction is now entirely run via computer. When groundfish were being hauled in at the rate of 30 million a year, a lot of companies would have a fish buyer based in Portland full time. But the reduction in landings has meant that most purchases are now done remotely.

It's a reverse clock auction, which begins with a relatively high asking price that is lowered until some participant is willing to buy. Buyers login to the Portland Fish Exchange auction system through a VPN connection and they begin bidding by depressing the space bar on their keyboard. The last person to pick their finger off the space bar will win the bid. 

What struck me was how much the whole process of conveying a fish from the sea to the plate of someone who did not catch it has changed with the implementation of new technologies. While it is a transaction that must have been a part of coastal communities since the dawn of civilization, VPN lines and pricing guns have made it a whole new ballgame. 

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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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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. 

Add a comment

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Top10 febEach 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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By Andrew Minkiewicz and Anne Hawkins

Last week, the lawyers at the Conservation Law Foundation used a posting on their Talking Fish blog (“Industry Lawyers Wrong on Closed Areas Science: An Open and Shut Case,” Feb. 18, 2014) to attack our Washington Lookout column (“Wishing doesn't make it so,” National Fisherman, March 2014, p. 8). They accused us of “sending the council… misinformation regarding the science in an attempt to weaken the habitat plan.” In line with previous Talking Fish articles, the CLF lawyers provided little insight into the issues at hand when they attacked the position of the Fisheries Survival Fund on the Georges Bank area closures.

The reality remains: The peer-reviewed scientific recommendations developed over 10 years by New England fishery stock assessment scientists and habitat experts agree that the current closures are not meeting the goals that the New England Fishery Management Council has set for groundfish habitat protection.

CLF claims to stand with science but continues to misrepresent the facts guiding important processes to update fisheries management according to comprehensive scientific evaluations.

  1. A huge majority of the areas under review were never closed to protect habitat — they were restricted 20 years ago to prevent fish mortality under a system of management that is no longer in use. In 2010, most groundfish stocks in New England switched to a catch-shares system that limits mortality by capping the number of fish that can be landed.
  2. Changes to these closures are part of an overdue process to incorporate the most up-to-date science in order to enable better, more effective fisheries management.
  3. There is no evidence that the massive year-round Georges Bank closure has helped the recovery of vulnerable groundfish populations like cod and yellowtail flounder.
  4. Under the catch-shares system, the current closures are counterproductive to the council’s habitat goals. These large closed areas increase fishing pressure on unrestricted New England habitats by displacing fishing from high-yield areas. This ultimately increases contact between fishing gear and ocean habitat. The council’s Habitat Committee stated in an analysis: “We find that for nearly all area and gear type combinations, opening existing closed areas to fishing is predicted to decrease aggregate adverse effects.”
  5. Areas that have been identified by current models as important habitat for groundfish stocks and spawning behavior will remain restricted. This includes the unique kelp habitat in the Gulf of Maine closure as well as the Whaleback area, which is the only closure that has been identified by the council as containing a cod spawning site.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the council will meet to determine preferred alternatives to the current closures.

The research cited by CLF does not support the organization’s recommendation to maintain the status quo.

  • The 2005 study by Murawski et al. that is highlighted in the Talking Fish article concludes, “These findings emphasize that year-round closures did not have universal positive impacts on the abundance and spill-over potential of all groundfish stocks.”
  • The referenced 2012 study by Dean et al. looks at the behavior of six tagged codfish in association with gillnets, though gillnet gear is currently allowed in many areas of the current closures.
  • CLF conflates unique habitat in the Gulf of Maine closure with the closures in Georges Bank. These habitats have various area-specific features, and the council has recognized the importance of analyzing each closure separately.

When the current closed areas were designated over 20 years ago, scant information was available to determine where important fish habitat was located. Today, with the help and support of the scallop industry, scientists are working with a peer-reviewed Swept Area Seabed Impact model to both locate areas that are vital to groundfish spawning and stock health, and offer solutions that minimize potential adverse impacts from fishing.

In the council’s SASI analysis, large portions of the current closures were not identified as meriting protection. The models also indicate that many areas previously considered Essential Fish Habitat are not ideally located for habitat protection. Adjusting the present closures according to up-to-date and comprehensive analyses will best protect important fish habitat while eliminating the unnecessary and ecologically harmful restrictions that are currently in place.

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By Susan Chambers

Sorting Table HI Purse seinersLike Hawaii-based longliners who will feel the sting of new rules from the December 2013 Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Australia, U.S.-based purse seine vessels are frustrated with rules that will force them to lose fishing days.

“We’re not talking about conservation decisions,” says Brian Hallman, the San Diego-based American Tunaboat Association’s executive director. “These were high seas restrictions for the [U.S.] purse seine fleet that were strictly economic issues.”

The association represents the entire U.S. purse seine fleet — about 40 vessels — that fish for skipjack and other tunas in the Western and Central Pacific on the high seas. Last year, the vessels fished a combined 2,588 days on the high seas and within the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Fishery managers were concerned about the impacts to bigeye tuna, which is caught in association with skipjack, the primary fish in canned tuna products. That concern resulted in limiting the U.S. fleet to a total of 1,270 days on the high seas this year.

NMFS has yet to determine the number of days the fleet can fish in the EEZ. But it still won’t be enough to make up for losses imposed on them at the commission meeting, Hallman says.

Some other countries’ fleets also will be regulated, but not to the extent the U.S. fleets will be. The Hawaii-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council notes that other Western and Central Pacific countries may not comply with the rules and the commission has no way of ensuring compliance.

Photo: U.S. purse seiners at dock in Pago Pago, American Samoa; NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

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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 we're starting a new feature where each month, we will compile the 10 most-read online news stories from the past 30 days. Learn what your colleagues are reading and never miss a hot story with this handy list of our best-read content.

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By Charlie Ess

Alaska fishermen got a dose of business savvy when the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit convened in Anchorage in December.

The conference has been held five times in the past seven years in hopes of recruiting permanent entrants into the state’s fisheries. Studies dating back to 1977 show the average age of Alaska fishermen has crept from around 40 to closer to 50.

In a vein similar to previous summits, this year’s conference included sessions focused on fisheries management, marketing, politics and finance. Alaska Sea Grant organizers Sunny Rice , Torie Baker and Paula Cullenberg had lined up three days’ worth of presentations and added a fourth day to include CPR classes and vessel safety training.

About 60 fishermen attended this year’s event and took notes when bankers explained the finer points of a balance sheet, depreciation and tax consequences.

With the recent push to launch a ballot initiative that would ban set nets in Upper Cook Inlet , other presentations advised fishermen how to write and present proposals protecting their interests to the Alaska Board of Fisheries .

“The last time we did the summit, we were able to put it on in Juneau ,” says Baker, an agent with Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program, in Cordova . “There was a lot of excitement, and we were able to get the participants to go up and meet their legislators.”

Baker adds that last time, eight fishermen testified to the state’s sub committee on fisheries and that the next summit will take place in Juneau. Until then, you can learn more about the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in the video below.

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Top2013stories2As a new year approaches, here's a look back at the most-read online news stories from the past year. From record catches to changing regulations, these are the stories your colleagues were reading in 2013. 

Top 10 stories of 2013

1. Fisherman pulled underwater by crab pot

2. Fishermen land 912-pound 'fish of a lifetime'

3. Massive marine protected area is a sham

4. 200-year-old fish caught in Alaska

5. Petition calls for drastic striped bass cuts

6. Fla. judge overturns ban on gillnet fishing

7. Shark jumps in boat

8. Crew abandons ship after skipper's alleged assault

9. Photos: Ready for Dungeness season

10. Shutdown may hit Alaska "Deadliest Catch" fishery

 

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

 

 

 

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Page 2 of 4

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 9/9/14

In this episode:

Seafood Watch upgrades status of 21 fish species
Calif. bill attacking seafood mislabeling approved
Ballot item would protect Bristol Bay salmon
NOAA closes cod, yellowtail fishing areas
Pacific panel halves young bluefin harvest

National Fisherman Live: 8/26/14

In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about his early days dragging for redfish on the Vandal.

Inside the Industry

More than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building the capacity of the U.S. Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources.

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PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative has appointed Matt Jacobson as its new executive director.
 
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