National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


These days New England groundfish fishermen are on quite a roller coaster ride.

First, a week ago, we learned that the loudest voice behind the catastrophic (for the Northeast) catch shares system, NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, will be stepping down from the agency in February. That most certainly was a rare zenith for the fleet.

Then acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank ordered federal regulators to return more than half a million dollars in unjust fines collected under the much-maligned NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

But now Senate Republicans are threatening to keep fishery disaster relief money out of the Hurricane Sandy relief package. The groundfish fishery was declared a disaster this fall. The relief money for the fishery would be $150 million, which was slashed from a $60.4 billion package.

And lastly, today fishermen start down the long, hard road that as near as anyone can tell will deal the fishery its last blow. Between catch shares and climate change, fishermen who have spent decades cutting quotas and fishing effort with the promise that one day it would all be worth it now face quotas so disastrously low, they would have no way to make a living and no hopes that their prospects will look up anytime soon.

Analysis of the stocks is ongoing, amid disputes over the validity of trawl survey methods. And there's no telling what the results will be and what effect they will have on quotas in the near future.

Today the New England Fishery Management Council voted 15-2 to delay until January the deep cuts to catch limits.

Fishermen are hoping for a Hail Mary pass on the stock analysis. Otherwise, it will truly be the end of the world as they know it.

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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