National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


A study led by researcher Elena Finkbeiner, completed during her doctoral studies at Duke University and published in the November issue of the journal Biological Conservation, reveals confusing results on sea turtle interactions and bycatch rates in U.S. fisheries.

According to an Associated Press story, "This is one of the key messages — there's a lot of inconsistency in how the different fisheries are managed," said Elizabeth Wilson, senior manager for marine wildlife for the nonprofit Oceana, which was not involved in the study.

What some call "inconsistencies" I call "successful fishery management." Streamlining an approach to management in fisheries as various as Hawaii's pelagic longline fleet and Northeast scallop trawlers would be yet another a bureaucratic nightmare for fishermen and managers alike.

The big headline, of course, is that 4,600 sea turtles are killed annually in the U.S. fishing industry. Before you get up in arms, take note that sea turtle bycatch deaths fell 90 percent between 1990 and 2007.

It seems to me, we are succeeding in significantly reducing bycatch without putting undue strain on struggling fishermen. We are doing that by focusing on fisheries individually, a tactic the study criticizes.

I'm a strong proponent of improving gear and reducing bycatch, but let's go at it fishery by fishery if we want to continue a high rate of success.

Inside the Industry

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.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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