National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


It's rare these days that a move by NMFS brings clarity and reason to the New England groundfish fishery.

However, yesterday the service did just that.

After banning midwater herring trawlers from groundfish spawning areas and then allowing them back into those areas with a gaping loophole that permitted the boats to dump catches before the observers could inspect them, NMFS has reached a happy medium.

The decision, the result of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, will allow midwater trawlers to fish the grounds, provided their catch — every catch — is observed and documented.

"This rule will make it so midwater trawlers fishing in Closed Area I are held to rigorous standards like those that groundfish fishermen face every day," Ben Martens, policy analyst for the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association, told the Provincetown (Mass.) Banner.

The only remaining loophole is simply the time it may take to act if it is observed that the trawlers are indeed catching too many cod in this critical habitat.

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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