National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

Yesterday's bloodshed in Seattle has left many of the area's residents in shock. But another slow-moving threat could bring a different kind of devastation to the Pacific Northwest community.

The Pebble Partnership is working on a permit application to submit to the state of Alaska for a potential copper and gold mine at the head waters of Bristol Bay.

Meanwhile, the EPA released a draft scientific study of the watershed, under the authority of the federal Clean Water Act. The agency will accept public comments until July 23.
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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 Unfortunately (among other problems), the data on which the lists are based are often quickly outdated.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.
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I'm a multitasker, but I'm considering ridding myself of the habit.

On my walk into work this morning, I was reading an editorial in the New York Times that first made me physically ill and then made me so agitated I was shaking. The piece is so full of errors and slights on hardworking commercial fishermen that I could not contain my irritation. On the plus side, my already boiling blood gave me a boost to practically run up several flights of stairs to my office.

This editorial does not seem to have been written by anyone who has spent any time with East Coast fishermen, which seems odd for a paper based in New York. It heralds catch shares for saving summer flounder and Northeast haddock, which is like crediting a freshman class for the seniors' high college placement rate. Summer flounder and haddock were healthy and strongly rebounding stocks long before catch share management was in place.
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Today the U.S. House made waves.

If the language in a budget bill gets through the conference committee with the Senate, then NOAA will have to hold off on implementing any new or pending catch share programs.

Fisheries already under catch share management would not be affected by this bill, including New England groundfish. However, the ongoing management difficulties and lack of protection (by the way of allocation caps) for small-boat fishermen under the Northeast groundfish program are ample proof that NOAA still has work to do on at least one existing catch share program before it declares success and charges ahead with the policy.
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The next swipe at the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska may not survive the political shell game.

Bristol Bay fishermen are concerned about the future of their salmon run and fighting the prospect of a gold and copper mine that could sully pristine salmon-spawning waters. But Alaska's attorney general, Michael Geraghty, has taken another tack in this epic battle and is now fighting the EPA assessment that could declare an end to development of the watershed.

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The fishing and seafood processing industries got great news yesterday when a federal district court judge in Florida handed down a decision to delay implementation of new H-2B guest worker program rules.

The new Labor Department rules threatened to shut down processing facilities from Alaska to the Chesapeake Bay by complicating the process that allows seafood processors to bring in foreign workers for jobs that are no longer appealing to American workers.

"The new rules force us to spend more time and money on recruitment initiatives that have proven almost worthless. They greatly complicate efforts to bring in employees who have demonstrated their willingness to do what American workers simply won't do," said Jack Brooks, president of the Coalition to Save America's Seafood Industry, in a press release.
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Today the Gulf Coast recognizes the somber anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which began two years ago, taking the lives of 11 oil rig workers and the livelihoods of many fishermen.

Also this week, Gulf of Mexico fishermen are reporting snapper caught with lesions and other physical anomalies, as they have since fishing grounds reopened after the spill.

Last year, most people took the attitude of "wait and see." This year, the alarm bells are not softening.

NMFS hopes to be able to include some Deepwater Horizon oil spill information in its 2013 assessment of the snapper fishery.
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I was thrilled to learn yesterday that a House committee is drafting a change to the Magnuson-Stevens Act in an effort to reinstate sound management practices on the federal level.

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is attempting to write an amendment that would ensure "informed decisions based on sufficient scientific information," committee Chairman Doc Hastings told the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times.
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West Coast salmon fishermen are eagerly anticipating a huge season this year with the number of kings estimated at 1.65 million — that's triple the highest estimate in almost 30 years, since the Pacific Fishery Management Council began its forecasts.

After three years of shutdowns and a modest season in 2011, this kind of comeback has locals salivating for fatty pink fish and fishermen eager to get their gear wet come the start of the season on May 1.
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In downtown Portland, Maine, we're preparing for the bizarre vortex that will become of our Arts District when President Obama and rapper Snoop Dogg hold simultaneous events across the street from each other tomorrow evening.

While odd combinations like this often lead to major headaches with traffic, security and parking, they also give us an opportunity to re-evaluate our surroundings and see them with an outsider's perspective.

That's how I felt when I read that Gloucester, Mass., fishermen showed up on a red carpet for the premiere of "Wicked Tuna," the latest commercial fishing reality series. This one is available on the National Geographic cable channel, as well as online.
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Page 12 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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