National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

As I flew out of Petersburg, Alaska, Thursday morning, I watched the seascape below me until the clouds obscured my view of the Sockeye Islands in Frederick Sound.

I'm on my way home from a week in Alaska's Little Norway. Those kinds of titles are often just marketing ploys, but the moniker holds true in Petersburg.

This town of 2,800 (not including seasonal cannery workers) is fiercely proud of its Scandinavian heritage — which can be seen in its tidy homes and gardens — and the people are as closely connected to the sea as were their Viking cousins.
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This week fishermen in and around Alaska's Kenai Peninsula are scrambling to catch what the Alaska Dispatch referred to as a mushroom cloud of sockeye salmon.

Southeast seiners are hauling in pinks, as projected.

Last year's record return of 34 million sockeye to the once-beleaguered Fraser River had everyone scratching their heads and then whipping out their nets.

That return is expected to be about 3 million this year, but its collapse has long been theorized to be related to nearby salmon farms.
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Collaborative research has changed the face of data in the fishing industry.

Many fisheries have benefited from revised assessments and improved survey techniques, and research programs (like the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Chesapeake Bay derelict gear retrieval) have benefited from fishermen's knowledge of fishing grounds.

But a new project in the Gulf of Mexico signals an important shift in the application of collaborative research. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, fishing has been somewhat status quo in the gulf. However, many fishermen have been waiting for the other shoe to drop.
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In many ways over the last week, I've felt that a government of the people, by the people and for the people is a basic tenet lost in the court system. Unless, of course, we redefine "people" to mean "groups with money, power and influence."

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel handed down a judgment declaring a multiparty challenge to groundfish catch shares has no ground on which to stand simply because NOAA and the New England Fishery Management Council followed procedural protocols.
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There's a favorite story in my husband's family that his cousin was leaving their grandmother's house with a newly minted driver's license. Grammie said, "Be careful driving home." And the cousin replied, "Don't worry, Grammie. I'm not going to get into an accident!"

We like to giggle at how silly it is for a teenager to believe accidents don't happen unless you allow them to happen. But that attitude is not uncommon among adults, as well. All we can do is hope that when an accident happens, we have the wherewithal to respond quickly, decisively and appropriately.
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NOAA's leader is bound and determined to keep the Northeast fishing industry on its toes.

After extending a hand to fishermen as she entered office, Jane Lubchenco swiftly turned her back on that sector of her federal agency and opted seemingly to ignore the severity of New England fishermen's suffering under the newly implemented catch shares system and the quickly unraveling story of corruption in NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement.
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I am thrilled to hear today that the U.S. House is moving to bar genetically modified salmon before the Food and Drug Administration can approve it.

Alaska Rep. Don Young's amendment to a farm spending bill was approved by voice vote late Wednesday. And the House is expected to pass the bill this week. The amendment would prevent the FDA from spending money to approve the application from Massachusetts-based AquaBounty.

Despite pleas from many sectors, the FDA has appeared to be leaning toward approving the so-called Frankenfish (king salmon modified with a growth hormone that allows the fish to grow to market size in half the normal time) and has been considering whether it ought to be labeled as modified.
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On May 20, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was mentioned in the Centers for Disease Control's list of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements for the last decade, specifically pointing to achievements by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program.

A few months before that, the Obama administration threatened to pull NIOSH's funding from next year's budget.
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President Obama's nominee for commerce secretary, John Bryson, has an interesting background, including a mix of business interests as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council.

I understand why many people in the fishing industry are concerned about how Bryson's history as a founder of NRDC would affect his leadership of the department that oversees U.S. commercial fishing. However, my biggest concern remains that just under the commerce secretary, Jane Lubchenco, head of NOAA, has already clarified her preference for environmental groups over American fishermen.
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Scientists in Florida this week are asking a question that has been on the lips of many Gulf Coast fishermen for more than a year: What are the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

A two-day meeting at the University of Central Florida among scientists whose efforts are being coordinated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography — using $10 million in grant monies from BP — gives me hope that someone is trying to get to the bottom of things.

The angle the scientists are taking is that some degree of ecological collapse could be taking place, but the scientific community may not yet have the knowledge and tools to predict and measure it.
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Page 19 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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