National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

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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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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Page 24 of 35

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

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

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has scheduled a series of scoping hearings to gather public input for a proposed action to protect unmanaged forage species.

The proposed action would consider a prohibition on the development of new, or expansion of existing, directed fisheries on unmanaged forage species in the Mid-Atlantic until adequate scientific information is available to promote ecosystem sustainability.

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The National Marine Educators Association has partnered with NOAA this year to offer all NMEA 2015 conference attendees an educational session on how free NOAA data can add functionality to navigation systems and maritime apps.

Session topics include nautical charts, tides and currents, seafloor data, buoy networking and weather, among others.

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