National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


This week, our hearts go out to the surviving family and friends of a Maine lobsterman lost at sea.

Crew members of the lobster boat out of Newport, R.I. report that their crewman became entangled in pot warp, managed to free himself and resurface, but could not cling to the life ring long enough for rescue from icy winter waters off Maine's Matinicus Island.

The Coast Guard reports that the lost fisherman was not wearing a PFD. The hesitation to don flotation gear while working on deck is a persistent cultural problem in the fishing industry.

Understandably, the hesitation comes from decades of cumbersome PFDs making movement on deck difficult if not impossible. Why would you wear something that always impedes your daily tasks on the off chance that it could someday keep your head above water?

But safety technology has taken great strides recently, and especially in the last year.

For example, National Fisherman's January issue features highlights of the last year's new products. Safety gear — specifically designed for commercial fishing — was a common theme in 2010.

Products that remove another sliver of risk in this deadliest American industry are out there. It's up to you to find one that suits your needs, and that task gets easier all the time.

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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