National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

I wrote recently that some weeks in the news world of U.S. commercial fishing feel overwhelmingly gloomy.

I'm glad to report that sometimes the tide turns and brings with it a steady stream of good news — or at least improving news.

The mood at the Maine Fishermen's Forum last week was the best I've seen in several years. It was a tough year for groundfishermen, no doubt. But on the bright side, the state of Maine has made some efforts to improve conditions for its fleet. Nationwide, overfishing is no longer occurring, and Northeast stocks and quotas are up slightly.

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I'm heading north tomorrow morning to set up for the Maine Fishermen's Forum at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

Though the trade show doesn't start officially until Friday, there is a full day of seminars on Thursday. I'll be presenting on National Fisherman's Profitable Harvest forum in the afternoon in the Rockport Room.

Former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler will be presenting at the Marketing and Profitability seminar with me on Thursday, and the show's organizers have announced that Gov. Paul LePage will be attending the show on Friday. Friday also offers the opportunity to meet the new commissioner of Maine's Department of Marine Resources, Norm Olsen.

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No matter what coast you're on, there is something big happening in fishing this weekend.

Tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 25) thousands of commercial and recreational fishermen will be gathering in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Fishing Matters to Me rally to protest the Gulf of Mexico grouper closures. The crowd will convene outside of NMFS Southeast headquarters at 263 13th Avenue South.

Also beginning tomorrow, Astoria, Ore.'s Clatsop Community College will again play host to the three-day Fisher Poets Gathering. While the stories of the sea are the biggest draw, the festival includes vessel tours, knot-tying demos, workshops and a silent auction.

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In some respects, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill must have looked like a blessing to Dr. Jane Lubchenco and her NOAA colleagues.

Of course, not right away, when no one knew what kind of toll it might take. But after the well was capped and wildlife seemed to have stayed afloat tolerably well, and tourism began to return to the coast, the federal agency ought to have looked upon the spill as a great public distraction from what their left hand was doing in the Northeast.

Just before the gulf spill, fishermen in New England were finally making headway after years of complaints that NOAA's enforcement arm was overzealous in its punitive measures against the fishing industry, from fishermen to a local auction house.

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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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Page 22 of 33

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 2/26/15

In this episode, National Fisherman's Online Editor Leslie Taylor speaks with Rick Constantine, vice president of marketing, Acme United Corporation, about Cuda corrosion resistant knives.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

Today Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation to extend a permanent exemption for incidental runoff from small commercial fishing boats.

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The National Working Waterfront Network is now accepting abstracts and session proposals for the next National Working Waterfronts & Waterways Symposium, taking place Nov. 16-19 in Tampa, Fla. The deadline is Tax Day, April 15.

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