Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
The National Fisherman crew has noticed an uptick in printed references to the magazine lately.
First there were several mentions of our esteemed Editor and Publisher Jerry Fraser's November editorial on Sarah Palin in an Ed Killer piece.
But the most surprising news alert I received this week was mention of National Fisherman in a story titled: "'Idol's' ultimate grad Carrie delivers enthusiastic, evolved performance."
Carrie Underwood and National Fisherman are an unusual pairing, to say the least. She's from cattle country with little to connect her to fishing, except perhaps some fans.
It turns out NF is the exception to Carrie's adoration in this story: "There were even photographs of magazine covers, and she seems to have graced everything except National Fisherman."
I guess that makes us the uncool kids. However, I'm putting out the call now: If Carrie would like to pose for our cover, we'd be happy to have her. Someone get this gal a Grundens t-shirt!
Just a few weeks ago, I was humming along through Michele Longo Eder's very moving memoir "Salt in the Blood" (see the review in NF's December issue) when I stumbled across a passage about Ginny Goblirsch's induction into National Fisherman's Highliner club (she received the honor in 2001). Goblirsch gushes over her phone call from Jerry Fraser.
The fact is, we are honored to be in the room with so many industry movers and shakers at every Highliner dinner.
As the only national commercial fishing publication (and one with a rich and long history), we pride ourselves on reaching out to our readership across this great land of ours.
If you're planning on coming to Seattle next month for Pacific Marine Expo, stop by the National Fisherman booth to say hi.
Friday, 24 October 2008
Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen in on a press conference led by Pew Environment Group with participating speakers from Pew, the FDA, Oceana, and Consumers Union (the folks who put out Consumer Reports magazine), as well as a chef.
Apparently, farm-raised salmon is a threat to wild ocean populations, and some places where it's raised cross the line with feed and/or antibiotics, making their product unhealthy for the humans consuming it (not breaking news to anyone in the industry).
The FDA, the speakers claim, does not have enough funding to inspect foreign facilities or even adequately test imported fish.
I kept jotting down "disastrous" figures and waiting for the action statement: Here's what we/you can do about it.
Unfortunately, that never came.
When Steve Hedlund, associate editor of SeaFood Business magazine, asked what consumers can do, the best answer was, essentially, talk to your fishmonger. "Begin the dialogue of sustainability," according to chef Barton Seaver.
I consider myself to be an actively green member of my community. I compost, recycle, use cloth bags at the grocery store, CFLs and low-flow everything, always opt for local foods, and the list goes on. Also, I consider myself to be pretty well-educated when it comes to buying fish.
But I have never, ever considered engaging my fishmonger in a dialog of sustainability. And if that has never crossed my mind, then I doubt that conversation is taking place in fish markets across the country.
If you want the masses to make environmentally friendly choices, you have to make it easy for them or make it financially advantageous.
I followed up Hedlund's question with a specific query: So what exactly can consumers do when they are in the store? Should they always choose wild over farmed, or never choose farmed salmon from a particular country?
With no hesitation, Urvashi Rangan, the Consumers Union representative, replied that this is unequivocally not about wild versus farmed (really? Because I'd choose wild over farmed any day of the week, for a variety of reasons.) Her best example? Hold on to your hat: wild tuna's mercury content.
Most of these speakers spent half an hour trashing Chile's salmon farming practices, but then none of them had the cojones to recommend that consumers avoid Chilean farmed salmon or farmed salmon altogether.
But the best recommendation is to "diversify" your fish purchases. Since your money is no good in stocks these days, this should be a fun, new way to diversify your portfolio (or your grocery list). Oh, and you should rely on the pocket guides to sustainable fisheries that are distributed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other environmental outfits.
I felt like smacking my head against my desk.
Those pocket guides are often misleading, quickly outdated and actually kind of confusing. Why? Because there are so many exceptions to every type of fish (farmed vs. wild, gear type used, location of fishery, etc.), and fishery management and sustainability changes all the time.
Do they expect consumers to download a new pocket guide every few months, when something has been added to or taken off the list? Because that ain't gonna happen.
I guess Pew's effort was geared toward sounding the alarm in the hopes that someone will find it in their hearts to raise the FDA's funding for inspections. In the meantime, fish buyers, you're on your own!
Wednesday, 01 October 2008
We all know the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. It can be infuriating, but sometimes it works to your advantage.
For example, my husband and I never thought we made enough money to owe taxes. But this year, we got slammed with state and federal. We were scrounging every penny to buy our first home, so it was quite a blow.
Fortunately, all we had to do was file an extension and wait until after our big purchase to pay a lump sum or figure out a payment plan.
Here's where our atrophied system comes in handy for you: If you are a Louisiana resident and a commercial fisherman, a commercial-vessel-license holder, or a seafood dealer with recorded sales or purchases of seafood during the year prior to Katrina (yes, the 2005 hurricane!), then you may well qualify for federal fisheries disaster aid.
The best part is you can still apply for it! That's right, this government molasses is trickling into Louisiana's storm-stricken coast until Oct. 31, thanks to the state's Wildlife and Fisheries Department, which set aside $28.2 million.
If you think you might qualify, contact South Central Planning and Development Commission at P.O. Box 1240, Gray, LA 70359-9902, or call (800) 630-3791 or 665-1051.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Our office was atwitter yesterday morning with the news that Linda Greenlaw had been arrested for allegedly fishing in Canadian waters.
Greenlaw (whose latest book, "Fisherman's Bend," is reviewed in the October issue) is a well-known fisherman-turned-author from Isle au Haut, Maine. Having survived the perfect storm of "Perfect Storm" fame, Greenlaw's name is super-glued to that of the ill-fated Andrea Gail as the last person in contact with the swordfish boat that went down with all hands.
When I heard she was swordfishing before her arrest, I was surprised. I knew that she had mostly been lobstering since her publishing career took off. (That's the idyllic life here in Maine: lobstering and writing. Where do I sign up?)
Greenlaw took a position on the swordfish boat when NBC approached her with an idea for an eight-episode series.
Little did she know then that she'd be the focus of another kind of drama.
What most of us are wondering is how far over that line could she have been to justify the Canadian Coast Guard taking her into custody in handcuffs?
An article in today's Portland (Maine) Press Herald explains very well why we were so baffled.
The explanation comes from maritime lawyer Michael Savasuk in Portland, who says the Canadian Coast Guard issues warnings and may get more aggressive if those warnings are ignored. However, according to the article, Savasuk "has never heard of fishermen being handcuffed as they're brought to court for a boundary infraction."
Did the Canadians know the trip was being filmed? Is this posturing from our friendly neighbors to the north? I would expect this (and worse) from Fidel's Cuba, but Canadians? Never.
Could it be that someone at NBC has strings to pull with the Canadian Coast Guard? At this point that seems the most likely explanation of this bizarre turn of events.
Stay tuned, though, folks. Greenlaw's hearing on the infraction is scheduled for the end of October.
Anyone know if they allow cameras in Canadian court rooms?
Monday, 22 September 2008
Whether or not you're into politics and 24-hour news coverage, the chances are you've been inundated with the presidential race in the last few weeks.
If you're in Alaska, I'm sure it's been an especially wild ride (as Charlie Ess reports in the forthcoming November issue of National Fisherman). But let's talk about something besides John McCain's running mate.
If McCain wins (you remember him, right? The guy whose name is at the top of the ticket), he has promised to cut spending. An article in the Fairbanks, Alaska, Sunday Daily News-Miner illustrated McCain's well-known low tolerance for earmarks.
Sen. Ted Stevens is widely known for his ability to sweep federal money into Alaska on the grounds that the state is so young it needs more help than most. But McCain's stance on earmarks has put him at odds with the venerable senior senator. And it could put him at odds with the rest of the state (not to mention his running mate) come next year.
Gov. Palin has reduced the federal earmark requests originating from Alaska state government, but I wonder how her understanding of what's necessary for Alaskans will butt up against McCain's views of feeding-frenzy legislation.
But no matter where you're from, you have to laugh at some of McCain's pithy comments on Uncle Ted's requests.
In 2004, he objected to $250,000 for the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum.
“Alaska is known for a lot of things, but being the hotbed or the birthplace of aviation is not one that I knew of, although over the years I have grown to be more and more aware of the critical needs of Alaska for federal funds for every conceivable purpose,” McCain said, as quoted in the News-Miner.
Friday, 12 September 2008
In the yellowed and storied pages of National Fisherman's archives, I ran across a 1958 report from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on fisheries research difficulties.
The results of the 50-year-old report are fascinating to me in light of an article from the August 2008 issue of Fisheries, the journal of the American Fisheries Society. That article describes how habitat degradation and invasive species contribute to a severe decline in freshwater fish species. (See this week's Fish eNews for more on that topic.)
Most fishermen would tell you that fishing effort is not the only contributor to the decline of many species. U.S. fisheries are so severely managed, that it's fair to say if it's not recovering, then we ought to examine and tackle a broader spectrum of causes.
(Most industry proponents would say we ought to do that with each and every rebuilding schedule, and I can't say I disagree.)
What's so frustrating is that the Atlantic States commission was saying that 50 years ago. Here's an excerpt from the report, as quoted in National Fisherman:
"Perhaps the most serious effects of human activity, though they are not obvious at first glance, are changes produced by alteration of marshlands, for example, drainage and real estate development, deposition of spoil from channel dredging, deepening and widening of existing channels, construction of dams and other engineering works, diversion of river runoff for domestic and industrial use, and many other factors.
"More readily recognized are the effects of pollution by sewage and industrial wastes, which in their most obvious manifestations kill fish and other animals, but which may also have much more subtle and hidden effects upon growth, feeding, spawning, and other activities of marine life.
"If this question were simply one of protecting marine life, the solution might be relatively simple. It is complicated, however, by the rapidly expanding technological development of our civilization."
The report goes on to stress that we cannot deny technological development. However, with the growing green/efficiency boom, we know what the power of combined public and private effort can do to effect change.
Friday, 29 August 2008
This recipe for two is great with any texture of white fish, from flounder to shark. I tried it with a river trout recently and just about ate my weight. The flavors are all Mediterranean, so I paired it with a Caprese-style appetizer of mozzarella, tomato and basil on soft bread. Add a comment
Thursday, 21 August 2008
An article this week on the decline of shark populations is decidedly dour, which may well be justified in terms of the raw numbers.
However, as usual, the blame is squarely placed on the shoulders of fishermen.
To be fair, fishermen (both commercial and recreational) have taken lots of sharks in recent decades, but what this report omits is the fact that the federal government (which is now being praised for restricting shark landings) was promoting shark fishing as an underutilized species and handing out permits like candy on Halloween.
"Tired of not being able to fish your traditional fishery?" they said in the 1970s and ’80s, "Then go catch shark!"
Can we really blame fishermen for taking on a seemingly healthy and lucrative fishery that the government was promoting?
What's worse is the only quotes this article has from shark fishermen are about how little money they're making now. I'm sure they had plenty to say about that, but I would be shocked to hear that not one of them complained that the government led them into this fishery and is now cutting them out of it.
You might even say they are getting finned. Reeled aboard, stripped of their only means to stay afloat and tossed back to sink to the bottom. An illegal practice on sharks is alive and well when it comes to U.S. fishermen.
This is the kind of thing fishermen should write letters to the editor about. I invite you to write to us, as always. But more important, read the article linked above and write to these good folks: Medill News Service, 1325 G St. N.W. Suite 730 Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 347-8700; email@example.com.
Friday, 01 August 2008
Sen. Ted Stevens has been the talk of the town in Washington this week, and no doubt also in his home state of Alaska.
There is no doubt Stevens has dedicated his long political life to reaping benefits for his state. What seems to be questionable at this point is whether or not he accepted personal bennies without disclosing them.
I'm no Beltway Buff. I think politics can be very interesting, but I get pretty tired of the corruption on both sides of the aisle. What I have come to accept, however, is that you just don't get things done in Washington without scratching a few backs and greasing a few palms.
Isn't this true in most places?
Don't get me wrong: I think we have to discourage this kind of behavior as much as possible, but it's the way things have run in politics since "et tu, Brute." There is no loyalty in democracy.
The way I see it is if you're going to bring down a sitting senator who has served for decades and can't be too many elections away from retirement, shouldn't it be for something mind-blowing?
Worst case here is that he accepted home remodeling in exchange for the opportunity for some government contracts and he decided not to disclose it. The best case is that he forgot to disclose it, and Veco didn't get contracts directly because of it.
In a decade in which seemingly respectable elected officials in Washington have been accused of inappropriate philandering with underage pages and soliciting sex in public bathrooms, the Stevens case simply does not blow my mind.
I'm the last one to call him Uncle Ted. I've laughed with the rest of "The Daily Show" viewers as he described the Internet as a "series of tubes" and at various other temper tantrums on the Senate floor. But c'mon, guys. He's 84 years old.
I find myself recalling the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. It just feels like a huge waste of American money, and to what end? So we end up with a sound bite and a trite phrase or two?
So Stevens spent some lobbyists' money to fix up his house (which is not exactly palatial), and now the feds want to spend my money prosecuting him.
I say let the good folks of Alaska decide his political fate.
Friday, 25 July 2008
If you've met Phil Ruhle Sr., you won't forget him.
I was introduced to him in November, when he and his co-researchers were receiving the World Wildlife Fund Smart Gear award for the Eliminator trawl at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.
Today, the beleaguered New England groundfish industry is suffering another blow. Ruhle's boat, the Sea Breeze, capsized and sank in a storm off of New Jersey Wednesday night. Two crewmembers were rescued by the Coast Guard, but there is no sign of Phil.
Phil's raspy voice and big blue eyes always conveyed the concerns of his fellow fishermen. He was passionate about fishing, his family and the future of the industry.
Our paths crossed several times in the last year, as he worked to promote the Eliminator trawl and have it approved by the New England council. He is an old-timer who remembered the glory days of fishing and has worked his hardest to get us back there.
I loved listening to him, because while he was fueled by frustration, he was determined to do whatever it took to make things right for the next generation.
It has been an honor to know you, Phil.
Bright summer goes, dark winter comes, —
We cannot rule the year;
But long ere summer’s sun goes down,
On yonder sea we’ll steer.
From "A Ballad of Sir John Franklin," by George Henry Boker
Page 29 of 31
National Fisherman Live: 9/9/14
In this episode:
Seafood Watch upgrades status of 21 fish species
Calif. bill attacking seafood mislabeling approved
Ballot item would protect Bristol Bay salmon
NOAA closes cod, yellowtail fishing areas
Pacific panel halves young bluefin harvest
National Fisherman Live: 8/26/14
In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about his early days dragging for redfish on the Vandal.
More than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building the capacity of the U.S. Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources.