National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

As I sat in the airport in Portland, Maine, this morning, ready to fly out to Maryland for the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in what promises to be a sloppy mess of a snowstorm, I couldn't help but think of our friends and fellow fishermen in Cordova, Alaska.

It's been a tough road to plow in Prince William Sound this week.

Pummeled by more than 18 feet of snow, Cordova is running low on shovels and the capacity to manage the mounds that have now been covered by rainy slush that freezes when the temperatures dip again.
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Today in Raleigh, N.C., the state Assembly's Marine Fisheries Legislative Study Committee held its first public hearing session on a proposal to designate red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass as gamefish.

The committee is the result of widespread opposition to a bill that attempted to make these fish off limits not only to commercial fishing but to any sale or barter.

So what does that mean? It means the Coastal Conservation Association-backed initiative would take these three species out of public hands and make them the sole property of the very small percentage of people who own and use recreational fishing licenses in North Carolina.
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As I look upon the new year, I try to focus on new possibilities and the hope of things to come.

2012 is the year of the water dragon in the Chinese zodiac. Perhaps that presages the commercial fishing industry wresting some control of its future from a little knoll on the Potomac.

I know we're working to win the hearts and minds with a growing list of fishing reality shows.

This week, the Learning Channel will debut the show "Hook, Line and Sisters" about an Alaska seining family.
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...Is a cod assessment.

The bipartisan pressure is on this holiday season for Secretary of Commerce John Bryson to respond to a recent Northeast cod stock assessment that declares the species severely overfished.

Despite years of attrition in the New England groundfish fleets, fishermen are still paying the price for depleted cod stocks without the long-promised payday.
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While most of Congress is steadily working toward the megabus solution that will keep the country running, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) was tasked yesterday with the unenviable assignment of hearing testimony on genetically engineered salmon.

I must admit I am baffled that while environmental groups often fight tooth and nail to keep fishermen off the water, we are even debating the possibility of growing genetically engineered fish and mining at the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon run in the world — Bristol Bay, Alaska. Where is the precautionary approach when you need it?

Pebble Mine and Frankenfish have no place in an eco-conscious country until or unless they are fully vetted and proven to pose no risk to wild populations.

But that's impossible, you might say.
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The latest International Pacific Halibut Commission allocation proposals for Alaska have rocked fishermen all over the state (and many recreational fishermen across the country who comprise the fishing tourism sector).

The charter halibut fleet likely dodged a bullet by convincing NMFS to delay the catch-sharing plan they had once agreed to. But whatever happens, they will feel the pinch of reduced quotas, as well.

And well they should. But what this news tells me is that there is no fishery management panacea.

Just when you think IFQs or catch shares are the best route for all fisheries, Mother Nature throws you a curve ball. We've seen it in Pacific halibut, Gulf of Mexico gag grouper and possibly even in Northeast cod.

So the question is, what to do?
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I love telling people about our fishery management system and how it works to keep our fisheries healthy, which is no easy task.

But an even heavier burden to bear is that of fishermen whose stock is depleted despite years of arduous efforts to rebuild it. Sometimes, we must accept, fishing effort is not the problem.

Yet, where does that leave fishermen and fishing communities?
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The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas held its annual meeting last week in Istanbul.

I was very happy to hear that Russell Smith, NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of international fisheries, managed to negotiate a hold on the U.S. swordfish fleet quota of 3,907 metric tons.

U.S. swordfishermen have worked very hard to abide by conservation measures to protect seabirds and turtles, prevent other bycatch and rebuild the stock. Strict adherence to these rules has reduced the size of the fleet, and therefore hampered catch rates, leaving the fishery underfished.
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Yesterday was a big day at Pacific Marine Expo, with full aisles, a huge floor to cover, and lots of conferences and special events, including the World Wildlife Fund's Smart Gear award announcements.

Today promises to be even bigger, as we'll hand out our first Boats & Gear awards during our first Boatyard Day celebration.

We are thrilled to highlight the work of Jennifer Lincoln with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health office of Commercial Fishing Safety Research in Anchorage, Alaska, Fred Wahl of Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., and the 100-year-old wooden halibut schooner Tordenskjold.
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One week from now, we'll be halfway through the 44th annual Pacific Marine Expo at Seattle's CenturyLink Field Event Center (formerly Qwest).

It's an especially exciting year for me because it's my first as editor in chief of the magazine, it's a West Coast Highliner year, we're hosting the announcement of the World Wildlife Fund's Smart Gear Competition winners, and to top it all off, we're rolling out our first ever Boats & Gear awards.

As a fishing magazine, we're all about our fishermen, which is why we take a lot of pride in honoring our Highliners every year. But what about all the folks who support the crews on deck?
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Page 14 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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