National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

Oftentimes when I talk to people outside the fishing industry, they ask me what the good news is in fishing because I always seem focused on what fishermen are kvetching about.

I would like to say that there always is some form of good news.

But anyone who follows this industry closely knows that we are barraged weekly (and sometimes daily) with stories from around the country about one fleet or another being targeted by one group or another.
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After reading an article this week in the Gloucester (Mass.) Times (Catch share group pushes private forum) about a closed-door meeting on New England's catch shares program, I got right on the horn to call the coordinator of the meeting to find out if members of the press would be allowed to attend.

I left a message and quickly received a call back from Jill Swasey at the MRAG Americas New England office, who explained that while the Monday morning workshop is, in fact, invite-only, observers are welcome, including the press.
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It's not difficult to imagine heading off to a summertime oceanside resort area on a day like today in New England. It's been snowing for a week straight (or so it seems), and today was no different.

As I sit in the airport, hoping I will make it to Ocean City, Md., today, I know I'm not headed to a warm destination. But from everything I hear about the Maryland Watermen's Association's East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition, the warmth will be all in the people.
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The battle over New England's groundfish quotas rages on this week with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) stepping up to bat and New Bedford, Mass., Mayor Scott Lang talking to Frank and Rep. Walter Jones (D-N.C.) in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill.

The mission is to bump sector quotas in order to keep the little guys afloat. This is not an effort to overfish, but rather to fish just enough, to stay on the water without taxing the resource. That is the true definition of a sustainable fishery.
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Whenever a new scientific study on fishing is released, I'm generally torn between elation that people are studying fishing and concern that they are only getting part of the picture and/or are being paid by some private group to prove a political point.

And so it was today when I read the headline "Virus may have killed Fraser River sockeye" in the Vancouver (British Columbia) Sun.

I would love to hear that we are closer to some answer as to why the Fraser River sockeye has been in decline for years, only to surprise us all with a 2010 return of 30 million.
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New Year's has come and gone. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to raise my glass to Legal Sea Foods and its President and CEO Roger Berkowitz.

On Monday, Jan. 24, the Boston-based seafood chain's flagship location will host a meal featuring only "blacklisted" seafoods. That is, fisheries the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their ilk have called on chefs and patrons to boycott.

The problem with the blacklisted fisheries, as the organizers point out and most fishermen know already, is that their categorization often ignores the complexity of the oceans. The justifications for blacklisting (or greenlisting!) are varied, sometimes politically influenced, and even based on old data or perceptions.
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The end of the year is often a time of reflection and looking forward. This year I keep coming back to groundfish catch shares — looking back on the East Coast mess, looking forward to the West Coast's implementation.

I hope that when it's implemented that this system works better on the West Coast than it has in New England. NMFS announced in late December that it's briefly delaying the scheduled January implementation to prevent over-issuing quota shares. NMFS says doing so will keep early 2011 West Coast harvests low enough that it won't be necessary to require more drastic management action later.
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In the spirit of the season, I'd like to say that there is hope, promise and energy in the U.S. fishing industry.

We see it everywhere we go. Fishermen worry about new regulations, updating gear, maintaining their boats. But more than anything, they love to talk about fishing and think about the next time they'll be on deck.

There is nothing better than doing what you love for a living, except perhaps taking a break to enjoy your family and friends during the holidays.

Merry Christmas from all of us at National Fisherman.

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This week, our hearts go out to the surviving family and friends of a Maine lobsterman lost at sea.

Crew members of the lobster boat out of Newport, R.I. report that their crewman became entangled in pot warp, managed to free himself and resurface, but could not cling to the life ring long enough for rescue from icy winter waters off Maine's Matinicus Island.

The Coast Guard reports that the lost fisherman was not wearing a PFD. The hesitation to don flotation gear while working on deck is a persistent cultural problem in the fishing industry.
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This week, North Pacific halibut fishermen got some bad news with the release of preliminary recommendations to cut the overall quota by 19 percent.

However, fishermen in Area 2C, near Petersburg, Alaska, were devastated by a proposed cut of 47 percent, from 4.4 million pounds to 2.33 million. Area 3A, considered the breadbasket of the fishery, is seeing a 5.63 million pound recommended cut, as well. Meanwhile, Canadian fishermen who share a coastline with those in Area 2C will likely see a quota increase.

It strikes me as inexcusable to cut anyone's livelihood by 47 percent — especially in this economic climate — short of catastrophic or imminent stock failure.
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Page 21 of 32

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

Inside the Industry

EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
 
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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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