National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


I wrote recently that some weeks in the news world of U.S. commercial fishing feel overwhelmingly gloomy.

I'm glad to report that sometimes the tide turns and brings with it a steady stream of good news — or at least improving news.

The mood at the Maine Fishermen's Forum last week was the best I've seen in several years. It was a tough year for groundfishermen, no doubt. But on the bright side, the state of Maine has made some efforts to improve conditions for its fleet. Nationwide, overfishing is no longer occurring, and Northeast stocks and quotas are up slightly.

Lobstermen had a good year, with prices bouncing back, and Maine's shrimpers all had smiles on their faces despite an early end to their season.

On the West Coast, Oregon is looking at a big chinook salmon harvest this year, after closures and meager openings the last few years. Washington's Puget Sound is forecast to have a strong run of pinks. The story for California's salmon is not so rosy, but the wheels are in motion to restore water to the San Joaquin River.

Alaska salmon returns, however, are expected to best the 2010 numbers, which ranked 11th in the record books, and the blackcod quota is up 25 percent.

Late last week, Virginia reopened large tracts of the Lynnhaven River to oystering and clamming for the first time in 50 years. The culprit there has been rapid coastal development and the resulting pollution.

On the Gulf Coast, the problem of perception seems to be waning, albeit slowly, in the wake of the oil spill. Dealers report no problems with product supply.

Overall, this week, the news that ran across my desk seemed to affirm that while fishermen may not have the ear of the Obama administration, they have many other vocal and powerful backers.

That included a great Huffington Post editorial on preserving the Chesapeake watermen.

Positive press for the fishing industry goes a long way toward turning the tide and changing public perception.

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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