National Fisherman

Face to the wind

In November of last year, I lost someone very dear to me. She was my mother’s best friend and like a second mom to my brother and me. Her presence in my life wore a groove around my heart.

Jan was one of the most caring people I’ve known, but she didn’t tolerate so much as an ounce of guff and lived every day with the courage of her convictions. She could look awful truths in the eye and talk about how terrible things were with a smile, as if to say, “But we’re in it together. That’s how we’ll make it through.”

In her last days, I held her hand, talked and sang to her. I like to think she knew I was there. Her family and mine. We are getting through it together.

This month Roger Fitzgerald shares his own loss with a beautiful remembrance of his brother in his column on page 6. I often turn to Roger for a fresh perspective. He never stops moving, seeking more and better of the best kinds of things: new experiences, new ideas, new stories to tell.

I don’t aspire to be like Roger when I’m his age. I aspire to be like him now, unafraid and fulfilled. Fear forces us to cling to the past. But forging into the future requires cultural shifts and changes in the ways things have always been done.

On page 24 Sierra Golden, a first-time writer for this magazine, profiles a young Southeast seine skipper, Hollis Jennings, who is breaking a mold just by being ambitious enough to get her own permit and a boat with which to fish it. And yet, her experiences are not specific to her gender. Jennings has kept a steady hand on the tiller and an ear pricked for the wise words of more experienced captains.

Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley writes about a real sea change on page 32. The Winged Trawling System could create a massive shift in the way Gulf Coast fishermen land shrimp. It reduces fuel consumption as well as bycatch. But will it catch on?

And then there’s the ubiquitous quandary of the Gulf of Maine. On page 20 longtime contributor and author Paul Molyneaux describes a day at sea with Maine’s Sentinel Fishery, a research effort to supplement NMFS’ paltry trawl data for inshore groundfish stocks. Without more data, there simply will be no future for the groundfish fleet. But data alone may not be enough to save it.

New England groundfish gets a lot of criticism from people outside of the region. They tend to blame fishing effort for the dearth of cod, not understanding that if reduced effort could bring them back, we’d all be neck-deep in cod. To those who say New England fishermen brought this on themselves, I say: We’re in this together. That’s the only way we’ll make it through. We have to brave this storm with our faces to the wind.

— Jessica Hathaway

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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Diversified Business Communications