National Fisherman

The Rudderpost 

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

 

These days New England groundfish fishermen are on quite a roller coaster ride.

First, a week ago, we learned that the loudest voice behind the catastrophic (for the Northeast) catch shares system, NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, will be stepping down from the agency in February. That most certainly was a rare zenith for the fleet.

Then acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank ordered federal regulators to return more than half a million dollars in unjust fines collected under the much-maligned NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

But now Senate Republicans are threatening to keep fishery disaster relief money out of the Hurricane Sandy relief package. The groundfish fishery was declared a disaster this fall. The relief money for the fishery would be $150 million, which was slashed from a $60.4 billion package.

And lastly, today fishermen start down the long, hard road that as near as anyone can tell will deal the fishery its last blow. Between catch shares and climate change, fishermen who have spent decades cutting quotas and fishing effort with the promise that one day it would all be worth it now face quotas so disastrously low, they would have no way to make a living and no hopes that their prospects will look up anytime soon.

Analysis of the stocks is ongoing, amid disputes over the validity of trawl survey methods. And there's no telling what the results will be and what effect they will have on quotas in the near future.

Today the New England Fishery Management Council voted 15-2 to delay until January the deep cuts to catch limits.

Fishermen are hoping for a Hail Mary pass on the stock analysis. Otherwise, it will truly be the end of the world as they know it.

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Friday in Portland, Ore., the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission approved Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposal to ban gillnets on the Columbia River's main stem. Part of the plan also allocates 5 percent of the commercial sector's 40 percent quota to recreational fishermen in 2013 and another 5 percent in 2014.

What is the purpose of increasing the recreational allocation to 65 percent and decreasing the commercial allocation from 40 to 35 percent? I'm confused as to how that is part of a conservation measure.

The Coastal Conservation Association claims gillnets are not selective enough. However, gillnets are improved year over year in fisheries all over the country. Fishermen shift depth, mesh size, net length, soak time and even attach pingers to make their nets unattractive to unwanted species.

What the CCA is basing this information on is a mystery to me. Yes, there is some bycatch in any fishery — including recreational fisheries. Meanwhile, we know that recreational fishing landings leave huge data gaps. I suppose ultimately the cuts don't matter that much, since commercial fishermen say they are unlikely to find enough fish in off-channel areas to fill their more modest quotas anyway.

“The Columbia River belongs to everyone, and the fish in it are a shared public resource that belongs to everyone,” Clatsop County Commissioner Dirk Rohne said at a rally last Thursday, according to the Daily Astorian. “Everyone should have the same right to enjoy Columbia River salmon, and that is a service the gillnetters provide for all of us.”

Nationwide, we are moving closer to privatized fisheries, from delivering the fish out of the hands of commercial fishermen, whose efforts feed the public at large, to delivering quotas to fewer and fewer boat owners, which leads to the Wal-Mart model in commercial fishing — behemoth stakeholders enjoying less competition.

Neither of these management developments makes fisheries easier to manage.

To the people of Oregon, I say only this: When you're eating Alaska and California salmon next summer, you will know whom to thank — commercial fishermen from states that allow for innovation in commercial fishing as an alternative to shut-downs.

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It sounds like the spawning grounds for Frankenfish are expected to dry up in January.

Massachusetts-based Aquabounty is crying foul over Food and Drug Administration delays in the company's approval process for genetically modified salmon.

Welcome to the world of fishery management, Aquabounty!

OK, OK, so they're dealing with the FDA. But it's the same deal, isn't it? Add a comment

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The National Fisherman crew closed out another great show in Seattle this week. The floor was packed with fishermen, new products and great giveaways.

On Wednesday I was honored to present our second annual Boats & Gear awards at Pacific Marine Expo's Boatyard Day. Randa Szymanski won our Lifesaver Award for her efforts to raise money to buy inflatable bibs for every commercial fishing boat in her hometown of Haines, Alaska. The effort far exceeded expectations to honor the memory of Haines fisherman Richard Boyce. Add a comment

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First things first. It's almost Thanksgiving. But as soon as that holiday is wrapped, I will be gearing up not for Black Friday but to head west to Seattle for the 45th annual Pacific Marine Expo.

It's all happening from Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 27-29, at Seattle's Century Link Field.

My team and I always strive to bring something extra to the expo, and this year is no exception.

As usual, we will be covering the show floor gathering stories for the National Fisherman Show Daily. So if you see us coming at you with a camera, don't hide! Add a comment

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Welcome to the new National Fisherman website.

The whole National Fisherman staff has been working feverishly to launch this site to be able to bring you the best of the commercial fishing universe online.

Our new site allows us to feature video, photos, blogs, news stories and so much more from every coast and around the world. Add a comment

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Hurricane Sandy lived up to her name earlier this week. Add a comment

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The controversy in Canada this week is over a proposed seal cull in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Add a comment

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There's no task more daunting and more rewarding than naming our annual Highliner Award winners. I often feel unqualified to decide who should get the award among fishermen who have worked for decades in this industry. But I try to do my homework and talk to dozens of people who serve all aspects of the U.S. commercial fishing industry. Add a comment

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It's that time of year. We are hustling and bustling around our Portland offices preparing to ship our show issue that will arrive with us in Seattle for Pacific Marine Expo at the end of November. Add a comment

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Page 9 of 29

National Fisherman Live

Brian Rothschild of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries on revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

National Fisherman Live: 4/8/14

Inside the Industry

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently soliciting applicants for open advisory panel seats as well as applications from scientists interested in serving on its Scientific and Statistical Committee.

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The North Carolina Fisheries Association (NCFA), a nonprofit trade association representing commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, recently announced a new leadership team. Incorporated in 1952, its administrative office is in Bayboro, N.C.

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