National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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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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Page 13 of 31

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 7/17/14

In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Mike Hillers about the Simrad PX Multisensor.

 

National Fisherman Live: 7/8/14

In this episode:

  • Obama proposes initiative on tracking fish
  • Council retains haddock bycatch limit
  • Columbia River salmon plan challenged
  • Virginia approves reduction in blue crab harvest
  • Ala. shrimpers hope to net some jumbo profits

 

Inside the Industry

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative has appointed Matt Jacobson as its new executive director.
 
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The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene its Red Snapper Advisory Panel Wednesday, July 30, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the council office — 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Fla. 

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