National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


This week Ray and Ulrike Hilborn (authors of the book "Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know") wrote an editorial for the New York Times that quite eloquently cleared up so much of the confusion consumers face when pondering what fish to buy and what traffic-light list to follow.

The lists proffered by well-meaning environmental and other advocacy groups merely serve to make consumers feel better about their choices. But they have no bearing on the management process in this country. Unfortunately (among other problems), the data on which the lists are based are often quickly outdated. U.S. fishery management is a process in permanent flux. Fish stocks fluctuate naturally and based on a multitude of human factors, and the regional management councils (as well as state and federal management entities) are constantly shifting their tactics to make the most of healthy species and recover subpar stocks.

But, as the Hilborns point out, no part of U.S. management is influenced by market forces. The value of a fish does not determine how its quotas are set in this country. So while consumers might be well advised to avoid species that are farmed or overfished in other parts of the world, they can rely on American fishermen to land only healthy portions of fish populations in their local markets.

Consumers would be better off learning how to identify and purchase local or other favorite fish species. Consumer education could make great strides toward curbing fish fraud. Success in that realm would reward both consumers and fishermen.

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


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.

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