National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


U.S. fishermen have seen it many times over. The federal government intervenes with a poorly managed industry, and the results run the gamut. Sometimes, it's gangbusters, and sometimes it's a flop.

But when the government fails in a major way as a result of alleged corruption (as we have seen on both coasts with NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement) or simply neglect, out comes the giant broom and rug. Sweep. Sweep.

It's as if admitting a failing and learning from it is worse than living under a halo of lies that anyone who's paying attention can see right through. (It may indeed be the best course of action, as federal governments face the prospect of lawsuits from all angles.)

But this week, an activist in British Columbia said no more to Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean and the Cohen Commission's continuous delays in publishing their findings of what led to the collapse of the 2009 Fraser River sockeye run.

“I'm not going to waste my time and energy praying and hoping and begging Mr. DFO to do something right,” said Alexandra Morton, according to the CBC.

“It's never going to happen. DFO is downsizing and my thought is: ‘Right on. Bye, bye. Step out of the way. Step away from the fish. We can deal with this.’”

Morton is a vocal advocate of the preservation of wild salmon and is vowing to establish private sector group comprising First Nations, fisheries managers, stream keepers and commercial fishermen that monitors wild salmon on Canada's West Coast.

“What I see in DFO is a lot of really wonderful people who would like to do the right thing, but they can't,” Morton told the CBC.

And when that happens, we have nothing left to do but take matters into our own hands. Kudos to Morton and her colleagues who are stepping in to make a difference where the federal government is hamstrung by formalities, process and quite possibly the monumental task of covering tracks.

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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