National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


As I mentioned a few weeks ago in another Sorting Table entry, things are looking up for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.

NMFS officials announced this week at the council meeting in New Orleans that overfishing has ended prior to the 2010 deadline. Though the season may remain curtailed at 75 days, the 2010 total allowable catch — to be split between commercial and recreational fishermen, at 51 and 49 percent, respectively — is 6.9 million pounds, up from 5 million this year.

Officials predict an eventual TAC closer to 15 million pounds and progressively longer seasons.

Final word on the season length will come in February. The primary argument for it remaining short is that recreational fishermen caught almost 2 million pounds more than their allotment in 2009.

While I don't think it's fair to wag our fingers at recreational fishermen and blame them alone for overfishing their quota (fishery managers ought to be keeping track to prevent this from happening in the first place). I do think it's reasonable for the commercial sector to continue to ask why their industry is treated so differently than the sport industry.

When commercial fishermen are exceeding their quotas, somebody gets on the ball and figures out a way to cut losses, no holds barred. But if the only result from the recreational snapper fleet fishing nearly 180 percent of their quota is that the season remains the same with an uptick in TAC, then there's something stinky on the dock.

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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