National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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


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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The news of five clam diggers who died in Alaska's Cook Inlet this week is a sad reminder that whether you're aboard a 20-foot skiff, as these men were, or a 220-foot processor, you are taking certain risks by working at sea.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, three of the five men were wearing life vests when they were found. The president of Pacific Seafood, the Oregon-based seafood group they were contracted to work for, says the company provides safety training. However, that training is provided by the contractor who hires the workers. He could not say whether these workers had received training.
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The wheels of government are turning slowly. But the fact that they are turning at all is a good thing for New England's groundfish fleet.

This week, representatives from the U.S. Commerce Department showed up in New Hampshire to hear what the fishing community had to say about the first year of catch shares and sector management.
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This week the California Public Utilities Commission endorsed the removal of four dams on the Klamath River.
Scheduled to begin in 2020, the dam-removal project should go a long way toward restoring salmon habitat along the California-Oregon border and ease the water battle between farmers and fishermen.

Fishermen and tribal leaders have been fighting for years to urge the removal of the PacifiCorp dams. Though it will be another decade or more before they see the benefits to be gained by restoring the Klamath River basin, I hope this is a lesson to fishermen across the country that no battle is fruitless.

I hope it may also be a lesson that Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with.

PBS has a new Nature episode called "Salmon: Running the Gauntlet." (You can watch it streaming on the PBS website.)

While I disagree with the premise that salmon hatcheries have been essentially unsuccessful, I appreciate the overall message that our interventions with the natural process rarely fail to surprise us.

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For too long now, New England groundfish stocks have been the poster child for increasingly punitive management tactics.

At long last, an independent review of the management process in the Northeast and the data upon which fishery policy is based has raised important questions about the quality of the scientific data, as well as monitoring and enforcement methods.

The review simply says what fishermen have said for years: The system is not set up with the industry in mind. The impetus is to react immediately to save the fish from a perceived doomsday at any and all costs, but data collection does not allow for timely stock assessments.
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Page 23 of 36

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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