National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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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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Page 13 of 31

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 8/14/14

In this episode:

  • More cod cuts expected if NOAA data holds
  • Louisiana importing oysters to meet demand
  • N.C. sets new sturgeon bycatch rules
  • BP appeals to Supreme Court on spill settlement
  • Senate releases new Magnuson-Stevens draft

National Fisherman Live: 8/5/14

In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Frances Parrott about the Notus Dredgemaster.

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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