National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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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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Page 15 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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