National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


Ten years ago, El Nino was throwing West Coast fishermen for a loop. Warming water temperatures led to migrating species.

Now fishermen in California, Oregon and Washington are dodging dead zones and Marine Protected Areas, and some would argue that the difficulties are all man-made.

Today's Los Angeles Times article "Dead zones off Oregon and Washington likely tied to global warming, study says," reports that a group of scientists from Oregon State University believe the growing dead zones off the northwest coast are the result of global warming.

Scientists were tipped off to the study by crabbers who found pots full of dead, dying or very weak crab. It was like nothing they'd ever seen.

The record-breaking dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been tied to fertilization of corn crops, which are growing by the square mile to respond to the call for ethanol as an alternative fuel.

While it's clear we have to do something to prevent dead zones, I worry about how the solutions will affect fishermen.

So many American farmers have lost their land to expanding suburbs, and others can't find two dimes to rub together because cheap imports have taken over the market. It's not a stretch to correlate dead zones to suburbs and cheap imports to, well, cheap imports.

Farmers markets, community supported agriculture (the CSAs that provide the abundant farm boxes so many of us have come to rely on) and the popularity of heirloom varieties are the response to mass-market, often bland produce. And those efforts are keeping many small U.S. farms alive.

But it takes an informed, involved public to keep those efforts going. It's up to us to do the same thing for fishing.

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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