National Fisherman


The Rudderpost 

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

 

Last week a little survey popped into my inbox, and I got very excited to fill it out.

This does not happen often (the excitement, that is).

However, this survey is about a whole slew of new and exciting aspects of seafood marketing that I pretty much can't believe is happening right now. The best part? You get a chance to submit your opinion, too.

The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee is looking for input from people just like you on the possibility for a federally managed sustainability certification for U.S. seafood.

Some say this just makes perfect sense. NMFS already has all the information because they manage the fisheries. Why not tack on certification while they're at it?

This is a fair point. NMFS certainly has far more information on fisheries than most of the independent groups out there promoting traffic-light seafood lists. But does it make sense to saddle federal workers with yet more red tape?

When I put on my rose-colored glasses, my vision is that a certification system like this could help data-poor stocks become data rich (or at least data middle-class). If they go through the certification process, they will have to be studied and analyzed, which could generate critical information. Perhaps more importantly a national certification could help seafood retailers market U.S. seafood, thereby raising the demand and prices of our domestic products. Improved education, recognition and demand could slowly ratchet down the amount of seafood we import (most of which we don't test or manage for handling or quality).

What I would not want to see is well-managed fisheries being punished for factors beyond their control. The fact is, all of our fisheries are managed for sustainability. So can't we just label them as such? As far as I'm concerned, a federal sustainability label does not need to be encumbered by a certification process. Our management speaks for itself.

When I look at the American portfolio of seafood, I see that we have a bounty to offer. Why we're not promoting it as such is a true failing on our part. Perhaps some sort of certification program could help us close that gap. I'm certain some better marketing would.

If you would like to have your say, fill out the MAFAC survey today!

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

Read more...

Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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