National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


Scientists in Florida this week are asking a question that has been on the lips of many Gulf Coast fishermen for more than a year: What are the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

A two-day meeting at the University of Central Florida among scientists whose efforts are being coordinated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography — using $10 million in grant monies from BP — gives me hope that someone is trying to get to the bottom of things.

The angle the scientists are taking is that some degree of ecological collapse could be taking place, but the scientific community may not yet have the knowledge and tools to predict and measure it.

What "it" is remains to be seen. However, this seems to me to be an exemplary case for the precautionary principle.

How many fishery management tools have been implemented without adequate data but with the understanding that we must protect one species or another "just in case"?

And yet, when it came to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration's immediate response was to assume all was well.

The scientific community is increasingly eager and willing to work with fishermen. It's time for policy-makers to realize that fishermen's anecdotal reports have value, as well.

We need to stop trying to fit our management of fisheries and oceans into bar graphs and start treating them like part of a living, ever-changing, sometimes-unpredictable ecosystem.

The more information we can gather from a variety of sources, the closer we will get to truly managing fisheries.

Inside the Industry

Pink shrimp is the first fishery managed by Washington to receive certification from the global Marine Stewardship Council fisheries standard for sustainable, wild-caught seafood.

The state’s fishery was independently assessed as a scope extension of the MSC certified Oregon pink shrimp fishery, which achieved certification to the MSC standard in December 2007 and attained recertification in February 2013.


NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.

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