National Fisherman


The Rudderpost 

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

 

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

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

Read more...

Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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