National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

jesJes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and


It's the season of blessings in the South. And I'm not talking about the sneezing brought on by the sudden swarm of pollen. (Bless you.)

From the bayous of the Gulf Coast to the bays of the southeast Atlantic between Easter and early May, the shrimp boats line up to celebrate with thousands of revelers in their fishing communities' annual Blessing of the Fleet.

This weekend, in Darien, Ga., the tide is right for the shrimp boats on parade to pass under the Darien River Bridge, atop which will stand a dozen priests and preachers poised with holy water to sprinkle down on each boat as it passes beneath them.

The blessing is the centerpiece of these celebrations, which often include live music, food, road races, parades and art walks. At the heart of it is the community, a gathering of souls at the waterfront to offer appreciation for an age-old industry that is the life blood for many small coastal towns.

As we send our fleets and fishermen off to sea for each season, we do so with hopeful and sometimes heavy hearts. Their days on deck, their harvest in the harbors and their families on shore are living, breathing Americana in hundreds of communities.

In Darien this weekend, about half of the town's 50 fishing boats are expected to take part in the blessing. The rest will be offshore trawling for shrimp.

I'm a might partial to Georgia and Carolina shrimp, being a native peach. That's the stuff I was raised on. But I'll say this, I've tried shrimp from all over this country, and it's all far superior to any of that imported farmed stuff that hardly passes as protein in my book.

Though we won't be honoring all the American shrimp fleets this spring, we say our own grace for the work you do when we eat the fruits of your labor. Thank you. (And bless you.)

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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