National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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Many Massachusetts politicians had strong reactions to NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco's testimony last week at a federal hearing in Boston.

During the testimony, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) chastised Lubchenco for apparently not answering questions directed at her as she repeatedly leaned over to consult with NMFS director Eric Schwaab.

New Bedford, Mass., Mayor Scott Lang has called again for President Obama to replace her as NOAA administrator. Gloucester, Mass., Mayor Carolyn Kirk posted a YouTube appeal for Lubchenco to meet with representatives of the city's fishing and port interests.
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Herring was a hot topic in New England yesterday.

First, the New England Fishery Management Council approved a draft of Amendment 5 to the herring fishery management plan that includes an alternative requiring at-sea observers for every boat on every trip in the midwater trawl fleet.

Ostensibly, the goal is to reduce the midwater fleet's bycatch of groundfish and river herring. From my perspective, the mere speculation that one fleet is damaging other fisheries is not enough to put the smack down on that fleet and ask them to pay for it, to boot.
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One of my favorite parts of this job is going to trade shows, fishing towns and even council meetings to see the faces of fishermen and their families.

It's the same reason our annual Crew Shots spread is one I look forward to all year. And judging by the feedback and submissions we get every year, it's a favorite among our readers, as well.

In fact, participation has been so high in recent years that we started putting our bonus shots on the NF website.
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A study led by researcher Elena Finkbeiner, completed during her doctoral studies at Duke University and published in the November issue of the journal Biological Conservation, reveals confusing results on sea turtle interactions and bycatch rates in U.S. fisheries.

According to an Associated Press story, "This is one of the key messages — there's a lot of inconsistency in how the different fisheries are managed," said Elizabeth Wilson, senior manager for marine wildlife for the nonprofit Oceana, which was not involved in the study.
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I read a National Geographic piece by Lee Crockett this week (Overfishing 101: It Ain't Over Till It's Over) in which he warns against our inclination to proclaim an end to overfishing in the United States, as the latest NMFS data does not remove every species it studied from its "overfished" and "experiencing overfishing" lists.

I will try not to get too sidetracked in the semantics of the NMFS listings, which allow species to be called overfished — even when they've never been targeted by fishermen (in short, glossing over other factors that influence marine species) — for the sake of brevity.

We certainly don't have a perfect fishery management system or a miraculous turnaround in every species NMFS monitors annually. I find it hard to accept that perfection is the goal, as I can't imagine it's the goal of any other government agency or industry.
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Coverage of the Cohen Commission is expected to come to a boil today in Vancouver, British Columbia, when long-silenced scientist Kristi Miller will take the stand to answer questions about her research on viral disease in wild salmon.

The Canadian government put the Cohen Commission in motion to seek out an answer to the collapse of 2009's sockeye returns to British Columbia's Fraser River.

Miller is a molecular genetics researcher for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Her research on a possible link between a virus and the decline of the sockeye population was published in the journal Science in March. Since then, Miller has not spoken publicly about her work.
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I spent a good part of yesterday walking around in the sad-music Charlie Brown pose after reading about Walmart's contribution toward privatizing our oceans.

The company's press release praised projects like catch shares, which have seriously consolidated fleets on the east and west coasts. I understand that Walmart feels the need to greenwash its reputation for profiting from poor labor practices, but must they do it by encouraging the loss of fishing jobs and infrastructure?

Meanwhile, the company has created a partnership with a South African wholesaler to import hake to their U.S. stores — from halfway across the world.
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Two federal decisions yesterday sent a wave of relief throughout the Gulf Coast.

First, NOAA dismissed three petitions attempting to punish shrimpers for turtle deaths that have not been proven to be caused by shrimping — and in fact occurred in the early days of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, when the fishery was not active.

Second, the federal agency increased the TAC for red snapper by nearly 350,000 pounds.
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This week four Mainers graduated from the Cod Academy, officially known as the Maine Aquaculture Association's Cod Farming for Maine's Commercial Fishermen program.

Reportedly, all four grads are now equipped to start their own small-scale cod farms on the coast of Maine.

While I admire the sentiment behind a program that specifically aims to train commercial fishermen at no charge, I'd rather see that money pay for cooperative research to improve the data upon which fishing livelihoods are made and broken.
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Page 18 of 32

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14

In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.

Inside the Industry

NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.

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Fishermen in Western Australia captured astonishing footage this week as a five-meter-long great white shark tried to steal their catch, ramming into the side of their boat.
 
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