National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

It's been a busy week in New England.

I kicked it off in Boston for the International Boston Seafood Show on Monday and Tuesday, where the big talk was sustainability and promoting healthy fisheries.

Oddly enough, I spent a lot of time in Boston talking about Alaska seafood. And specifically Alaska salmon, which in many ways is swimming upstream once again in moving forward with a third-party FAO-based certification program that's not the Marine Stewardship Council.
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I just can't imagine it's a coincidence that the day I open up a Roger Berkowitz blog about eating farmed seafood in moderation I also stumble upon an article about an Indiana man whose death may have been complicated by his consumption of tainted farmed shrimp.

I've long been on a personal crusade to encourage friends, family and even strangers to eat wild fish whenever they can. People complain about the watery taste of some farmed fish. My reply is, simply, "It's not natural, so why should it taste like it?"

For my friends who live in the middle of the country who can't always get local freshwater fish, I tend to recommend IQF or FAS wild American fish and shellfish because of the consistency in quality.
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Today I'm preparing to head north to Rockport, Maine, for the Maine Fishermen's Forum. As is often the case for this show, I'll be driving through a late-winter snow storm, and quite possibly coming home in one. As usual in Maine, March is coming in like a lion.

But worse than the weather forecast is the outlook for fishermen in New England. Yesterday, we found that we will lose another senior member of Congress who has also been an advocate for fishermen and fishing communities.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced that she will not seek re-election this year, citing out-of-control political partisanship in Washington. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) stated late last year that he will be retiring from Congress.
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Or a ticket. Or a ride. Whatever you do, get yourself to Washington, D.C., for the March 21 Keep Fishermen Fishing rally.

Fishermen from around the country, both commercial and recreational, will gather in support of sensible reform of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The act's rebuilding guidelines require that any species designated overfished must be managed in such a way that the biomass is able to be deemed recovered within 10 years. That 10-year rule is arbitrary and has no basis in fishery science.
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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission group that regulates the northern shrimp fleet voted Wednesday to shut down fishing for the season.

It's been a rough year for northern New England's shrimpers, most of whom are also suffering in their other fishery — Northeast groundfish.

Limited quotas in the groundfish trawl fleet, especially since the implementation of catch share management in 2010, have spiked participation in the winter shrimp fishery, which is open access.
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Among the top things that make me cringe is seeing any government pour resources into a project for the sake of PR or remove public access to resources that provide valuable wages, especially in remote parts of the country.

Today I heard about a meeting that will take place this evening in Port Lavaca, Texas, between commercial oystermen and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The reason for the meeting is an attempt to discover why state and federal authorities showed up in droves on the opening day of the state's oyster season — a season that has been delayed by three months because of a lengthy red tide outbreak.
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This week, Alaska fishery managers proved once again why the region has such an excellent reputation for fishery management.

Halibut fishermen face another severe cut to their quotas this year, and within a week of the International Pacific Halibut Commission's announcement, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is addressing the fleetwide concern about halibut bycatch and discards in other fisheries.

The commercial halibut fleet is of course also concerned about the effects of the guided sport industry exceeding the guideline harvest level year over year.
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It appears that NMFS may have to tweak its policy from using the best available science to the most recently available science.

A 2008 study showed a very optimistic outlook for Northeast cod, which jived with what fishermen were reporting. But the most recent stock study indicates a drastically different picture of the stock, which is in sharp contrast with what fishermen are reporting.

When so many livelihoods are caught in the balance between contradictory assessments, managers must take care rather than taking drastic measures. Unexplainable swings in a biomass that fishermen have been avoiding in order to allow it to rebuild on the 10-year guideline are not the best available science. The current assessment saddles the entire industry, from bureaucrats to managers to fishermen, with question marks that could bring down entire communities.
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The big news out of Alaska this week is not snow but another perennial favorite: salmon.

The forecast is good for the Copper River, yes. But even more awe-inspiring is the decision on the part of the state's salmon processors to drop their financial support of the Marine Stewardship Council's sustainability certification.

The MSC has been at the forefront of eco-labeling and has led the charge to ease marketing and purchasing conundrums that developed as consumers were encouraged to ask whether the fish they were buying was the product of a sustainable fishery.

I can't say enough times that American seafood is sustainably managed. It is hands down the easiest choice for consumers who want to buy only "secure" sources of food.
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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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Page 15 of 31

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 10/21/14

In this episode:

North Pacific Council adjusts observer program
Fishermen: bluefin fishing best in 10 years
Catch limit raised for Bristol Bay red king crab
Canadian fishermen fight over lobster size rules
River conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup

National Fisherman Live: 10/7/14

In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about the 1929 dragger Vandal.

 

Inside the Industry

NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

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The Golden Gate Salmon Association will host its 4th Annual Marin County Dinner at Marin Catholic High School, 675 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield on Friday, Oct 10, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

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