National Fisherman


The Rudderpost 

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

 

It is easy to get caught up in the solemn news of the industry and pass over the bright spots.

This week my eye grazed articles on lagging oyster harvests, tightened shrimp seasons, cod stock controversy, turtle excluder violations, albatross bycatch and salmon anemia.

But one thing that is undoubtedly going well is the expansion of Asian carp processing facilities in Illinois. The invasive fish may be beating down the doors at the Chicago Ship Canal, but the Pearl, Ill.-based Big River Fish company is doing its best to keep the swarm in check.
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As NOAA head Jane Lubchenco continues to tout the economic outlook for the New England groundfish fleet, the people who do the hard work of running and managing those fishing businesses met in Portland, Maine, earlier this week.

The consensus (aside from the well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of smaller boats are struggling to stay in business) is that last year NMFS bungled data management from one end of the season to the other. Disappearing quota, mystery VMS reports, and paperwork black holes were some of the top concerns of sector managers on the second day of meetings.
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Canada's federal government held public hearings on the decline of the Fraser River sockeye late this summer, including three days that focused on fish-borne disease.

The official word from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was that there's no hard evidence that farmed fish is affecting the decline of wild fish. (And that includes the long-anticipated testimony of Kristi Miller, a genetics researcher whose article in the magazine Science suggested an unidentified virus could be killing Fraser River salmon.)

The DFO maintains that line even today in the face of a possible outbreak of infectious anemia on wild sockeye.
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This week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council met for three days in Galloway Township, N.J., during which time they voted to recommend a big increase in the spiny dogfish quota. If NMFS approves the recommendation, East Coast fleets will see a boost of 78.5 percent from 20 million pounds this year to 35.7 million pounds; trip limits will also increase from 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.

For years fishermen have been testifying that spiny dogfish are voracious eaters of other important commercial species, like fluke, butterfish and weakfish.
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Many Massachusetts politicians had strong reactions to NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco's testimony last week at a federal hearing in Boston.

During the testimony, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) chastised Lubchenco for apparently not answering questions directed at her as she repeatedly leaned over to consult with NMFS director Eric Schwaab.

New Bedford, Mass., Mayor Scott Lang has called again for President Obama to replace her as NOAA administrator. Gloucester, Mass., Mayor Carolyn Kirk posted a YouTube appeal for Lubchenco to meet with representatives of the city's fishing and port interests.
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Herring was a hot topic in New England yesterday.

First, the New England Fishery Management Council approved a draft of Amendment 5 to the herring fishery management plan that includes an alternative requiring at-sea observers for every boat on every trip in the midwater trawl fleet.

Ostensibly, the goal is to reduce the midwater fleet's bycatch of groundfish and river herring. From my perspective, the mere speculation that one fleet is damaging other fisheries is not enough to put the smack down on that fleet and ask them to pay for it, to boot.
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One of my favorite parts of this job is going to trade shows, fishing towns and even council meetings to see the faces of fishermen and their families.

It's the same reason our annual Crew Shots spread is one I look forward to all year. And judging by the feedback and submissions we get every year, it's a favorite among our readers, as well.

In fact, participation has been so high in recent years that we started putting our bonus shots on the NF website.
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A study led by researcher Elena Finkbeiner, completed during her doctoral studies at Duke University and published in the November issue of the journal Biological Conservation, reveals confusing results on sea turtle interactions and bycatch rates in U.S. fisheries.

According to an Associated Press story, "This is one of the key messages — there's a lot of inconsistency in how the different fisheries are managed," said Elizabeth Wilson, senior manager for marine wildlife for the nonprofit Oceana, which was not involved in the study.
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I read a National Geographic piece by Lee Crockett this week (Overfishing 101: It Ain't Over Till It's Over) in which he warns against our inclination to proclaim an end to overfishing in the United States, as the latest NMFS data does not remove every species it studied from its "overfished" and "experiencing overfishing" lists.

I will try not to get too sidetracked in the semantics of the NMFS listings, which allow species to be called overfished — even when they've never been targeted by fishermen (in short, glossing over other factors that influence marine species) — for the sake of brevity.

We certainly don't have a perfect fishery management system or a miraculous turnaround in every species NMFS monitors annually. I find it hard to accept that perfection is the goal, as I can't imagine it's the goal of any other government agency or industry.
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Coverage of the Cohen Commission is expected to come to a boil today in Vancouver, British Columbia, when long-silenced scientist Kristi Miller will take the stand to answer questions about her research on viral disease in wild salmon.

The Canadian government put the Cohen Commission in motion to seek out an answer to the collapse of 2009's sockeye returns to British Columbia's Fraser River.

Miller is a molecular genetics researcher for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Her research on a possible link between a virus and the decline of the sockeye population was published in the journal Science in March. Since then, Miller has not spoken publicly about her work.
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Page 24 of 38

Inside the Industry

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced last week the sixth round of grant awards from its Fisheries Innovation Fund, a program launched in 2010 to foster innovations that support sustainable fisheries in the United States. 

The goal of the Fisheries Innovation Fund is to sustain fishermen and fishing communities while simultaneously rebuilding fish stocks.

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Alaskan Leader Fisheries will give Inmarsat’s new high-speed broadband maritime communications service, Fleet Xpress, a try on the 150-foot longline cod catcher/processor Alaskan Leader.

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