National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

In my morning headline perusal, the confluence of two stories got me thinking. First was about the Midwestern chain of grocery stores promoting Gulf of Mexico shrimp and then I saw a headline about a new jackpot lotto winner in Michigan. It got me fantasizing about winning the lottery — and selling fish.

What would I do if I won? The first thing I thought of was not a trip to the Mediterranean (though that would make the short list). I'd bankroll the National Seafood Marketing Coalition.

I went to the grocery store a couple of weeks ago hoping to find some U.S. shrimp to go with a grilled Caesar salad. We had used spot prawns a couple of weeks before and were itching to replicate the experience.
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This week, Portland, Ore.-based fisherman and photographer Corey Arnold is in the other Portland. And tonight in Rockland, Maine's Island Institute is hosting "Fish-Work," a presentation of Arnold's seafaring stories and images of fisheries from around the globe.

No doubt the discussion will cover lobster protests, groundfish cuts and ESA declarations, but more importantly, this is an opportunity to get a glimpse at the world of fishing through Arnold's guileless lens. This is fishing and seaside culture like you've never seen before.
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The Northeast groundfish fleet is on its knees and looking at a final, fatal blow in the form of severe cuts to key species and the possibility of closures relating to Endangered Species Act protections for some populations of Atlantic sturgeon.

It doesn't seem possible that the agency responsible for the management of the fishery would allow it to go down in flames like this. But it just might happen, and much sooner than many of us thought.

The standard response from people outside of the fishery is that the fishermen did it to themselves. They overfished and are now paying the price. It's true that cod was overfished after the federal government offered loan guarantees to build new boats, so people who had never considered fishing before grabbed the chance to make some money on the iconic and seemingly infallible species. We could never take too many, right?
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One year ago this week, I was in Petersburg, Alaska. I thought of it today not because of the anniversary but because I was in search of lunch. I found lots of local menus with farmed salmon sandwiches or fried whitefish. It's summer! I want wild salmon or any local, wild fish that hasn't been overwhelmed by batter.

Sure, I could get a lobster roll, but I prefer my lobster warm and dredged in melted butter. In Petersburg I ate fresh, local, wild fish at every meal (except one amazing breakfast of Julianne Curry's Swedish pancakes). Today I ended up with a turkey club for lunch, while listening to seagulls fight on the rooftop next door. That's just not right. The ocean is right there!

Then a food-photographer friend of mine posted a beautiful shot of a fish dish to her Facebook page. Her caption included the phrase, "Yes, I said cusk."

Have you ever had it, or even heard of it? It's a lovely whitefish that's part of the Northeast groundfish multispecies complex. It doesn't carry the same cache as haddock or cod, but it can be used interchangeably for those species.
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Another week, another seafood glut, another strike.

Salmon fishermen in northern California have been enjoying a bountiful season of king salmon returns. It's a true blessing after three years of shutdowns and minimal openings, but the blessing has become a curse.

Last week, some fishermen tied up to create more demand and improve their boat price, but they haven't seen the effects yet. Most fishermen are getting half what they were before the San Francisco fleet started loading up in fishing-friendly weather in recent weeks. But in many fish markets, the retail price remains the same.
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It's summertime in Vacationland, so all should be fine and dandy. In fact, so far, this is one of the most spectacular summers I can remember.

But today is Friday the 13th, and vacationers headed toward the state face a frightening prospect, indeed. Maine lobstermen are threatening to leave their traps in the water, thereby ending the glut of lobster that has reduced its price below the bologna threshold at about $2.50 a pound.

According to NPR, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has fielded calls from lobstermen asking the state to shut down the fishery — an action for which they don't have authority.
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This Fourth of July week, the biggest display of fireworks may well be at the NMFS' Seattle office of law enforcement. The boom could be heard in February when a report from Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser revealed alleged misuse of funds gleaned from fishing fines within the agency, including the purchase of a $300,000 luxury yacht that some agents were using for social outings.

But the light show didn't begin until mid-May when NMFS reportedly abruptly replaced the regional law enforcement chief, Vicki Nomura, reassigned her to the agency's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., and began conducting a review of her office's activities.
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I was delighted this week to learn that William (Bill) Karp received his official appointment to head NMFS' Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass.

Karp has been serving as acting director of the science center since January, and in that time, he has recognized the challenges that face the New England cod fleet, as well as the science behind the trawl surveys.
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We're here today at the second and final day of Commercial Marine Expo in New Bedford, Mass., seeing lots of familiar faces and talking fish.

If you can't make it to the show, however, there is still a way for you to reach out to someone and talk fish.

The Senate is in session this week, and they're debating the farm bill. This may come as news to some folks, but there could be a tasty morsel in there for commercial fishermen.
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I was thrilled to get the official word this week that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has paved the way for the Senate to hold hearings on reforming the Magnuson-Stevens Act in the fall.

"What the fishermen here have been telling me for many years is that the law is inflexible, based on questionable science, and doesn't take into account the economic implications of severe quota limits of existing fish stock," Schumer told Newsday.

What Schumer understands that many do not is that commercial fishermen do not want to take more than a sustainable catch. The idea behind getting some flexibility in the 10-year rebuilding mandate is simply to keep fishermen afloat until they can get reliable data.
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Page 11 of 29

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 4/22/14

  • OSU study targets commercial fishing injuries
  • Delaware's native mud crab making recovery
  • Alaska salmon catch projected to drop 47 percent
  • West Coast groundfish fishery bill passes
  • Maine's scallop season strongest in years

Brian Rothschild of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries on revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Inside the Industry

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently soliciting applicants for open advisory panel seats as well as applications from scientists interested in serving on its Scientific and Statistical Committee.

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The North Carolina Fisheries Association (NCFA), a nonprofit trade association representing commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, recently announced a new leadership team. Incorporated in 1952, its administrative office is in Bayboro, N.C.

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