National Fisherman


The Rudderpost 

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

 

The Obama administration has taken on the ominous task of unifying U.S. ocean policy.

In a first step in what is sure to be a long journey, NOAA has been holding a series of public hearings to get feedback from stakeholders. The outcry of which seems to point to the ineffective style of managing fisheries individually.

However, when I read things like the comment in yesterday's Kansas City (Mo.) Star from former NOAA chief scientist Sylvia Earl, claiming that NOAA's unofficial purpose is "about killing and marketing fish," I have to wonder what is going on in Washington.

Is the Beltway so congested and constricted that no one down there can see all the way to the ocean anymore?

Since when has NMFS been a helpful aid to commercial fishing? As far as I can tell, more and more fishermen and fishing communities are going about marketing and selling fish on their own, giving rise to numerous and popular community-supported fisheries. (Not to mention the actual fishing — or "killing" part, which we all know is getting tougher to do by the minute.)

NMFS is derided from coast to coast for dropping the ball when it comes to supporting working waterfronts and fishing communities. So whose fish are they killing and marketing?

To be fair, the councils have a tremendous job on their hands, and many fisheries are improving. So I have to give credit where credit is due. But those rebounds are not the result of good marketing or excessive killing of fish.

Earle went on to say that marine sanctuaries should henceforth completely ban fishing, because, "if there are to be fishermen, there have to be fish."

And there you have it: the gold standard behind the disastrous effect NOAA and NMFS have had on fishing communities for the last decade.

This government sentiment is the reason working waterfronts and fishing towns are collapsed, dwindling or clawing their way back from near-takeover by luxury condos.

The flaw is the notion itself: that we have to put fish first and people second.

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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