National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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It is easy to get caught up in the solemn news of the industry and pass over the bright spots.

This week my eye grazed articles on lagging oyster harvests, tightened shrimp seasons, cod stock controversy, turtle excluder violations, albatross bycatch and salmon anemia.

But one thing that is undoubtedly going well is the expansion of Asian carp processing facilities in Illinois. The invasive fish may be beating down the doors at the Chicago Ship Canal, but the Pearl, Ill.-based Big River Fish company is doing its best to keep the swarm in check.
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As NOAA head Jane Lubchenco continues to tout the economic outlook for the New England groundfish fleet, the people who do the hard work of running and managing those fishing businesses met in Portland, Maine, earlier this week.

The consensus (aside from the well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of smaller boats are struggling to stay in business) is that last year NMFS bungled data management from one end of the season to the other. Disappearing quota, mystery VMS reports, and paperwork black holes were some of the top concerns of sector managers on the second day of meetings.
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Canada's federal government held public hearings on the decline of the Fraser River sockeye late this summer, including three days that focused on fish-borne disease.

The official word from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was that there's no hard evidence that farmed fish is affecting the decline of wild fish. (And that includes the long-anticipated testimony of Kristi Miller, a genetics researcher whose article in the magazine Science suggested an unidentified virus could be killing Fraser River salmon.)

The DFO maintains that line even today in the face of a possible outbreak of infectious anemia on wild sockeye.
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This week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council met for three days in Galloway Township, N.J., during which time they voted to recommend a big increase in the spiny dogfish quota. If NMFS approves the recommendation, East Coast fleets will see a boost of 78.5 percent from 20 million pounds this year to 35.7 million pounds; trip limits will also increase from 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.

For years fishermen have been testifying that spiny dogfish are voracious eaters of other important commercial species, like fluke, butterfish and weakfish.
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Page 16 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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