National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


It seems the only thing sustainable about oil is its expense.

I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief this morning when Marketplace reported that oil had dropped to just shy of $126 a barrel. I never thought I'd be daydreaming about the heady days when everyone was shellshocked after it passed the $50 mark. (That was less than four years ago.)

But when it comes to fuel prices, as bad as it seems over here, it's always worse in Europe.

In protest of the cost of diesel fuel, French commercial fishermen have been blockading ports and refineries for weeks<a href="">; and in Madrid, they're handing out free fish while they're tied up to the docks.

Welsh fishermen say that between the French blockades and the cost of fuel, they're on the brink of total collapse.

Plenty of American fishermen are tying up to the docks because the price of fresh fish has not overtaken the rising cost of oil.

So what can we do at this point, besides cross our fingers and hope for the best?

Even if there were some sort of revolution in efficiency and/or alternative fuels, the cost of switching over would be overwhelming to most small-boat fishermen or any small-business owner.

The fact is, there is no quick fix for this problem. Protests aren't going to solve the problem (though I can't blame the Europeans, who are paying at least double what we are for the same product), and tying up is certainly not a long-term solution for any fisherman who has to make a living.

I have to wonder if the government stepped in to offer subsidies and tax breaks, would they be a little more careful about the influx of farmed seafood imports?

I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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