National Fisherman

National Fisherman - May 2014

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Seafolk tales

Astoria's 17th annual FisherPoets Gathering explores the heart of fishing

By Sierra Golden

As Jane Kinegal tells it, she was 11 when she started working in her father's salmon cannery on the British Columbia coast. At the time, union rules required that all the women hand-packing the cans be at least 16 years of age, but as daughter of the plant manager, she had already been practicing that careful art for eight years. She wanted nothing more than to join the singing teenagers and wizened women on the production line. Now, decades later, sitting in the darkened hall of the Astoria Event Center, she imitates the poking and patting motion of putting salmon in a can and concludes her story by saying that she learned more from those women than pretty much anyone else in her life.

The inheritance of wisdom is an important theme every year at the FisherPoets Gathering in Astoria, Ore. Yet this year at the February gathering, when Kinegal and four other women from fisheries around the world sat on stage for the first all-female Story Circle in the gathering's 17-year history, they spoke with some desperation in their voices about losing tradition, dwindling fish stocks, disappearing towns and a fisherman's undying hope. In short, they wanted to know how to protect the industry and culture they love in a rapidly changing world. In truth, their very words and the FisherPoets Gathering as a whole are a step toward saving both the culture and industry of which they speak.

The FisherPoets Gathering is the 1998 brainchild of Astoria resident and longtime commercial salmon fisherman Jon Broderick, though he is quick to brush off the founder title saying, "I take credit only for making the first phone call because I never met anyone who didn't think it was a good idea." That call was to John van Amerongen, then editor of Alaska Fisherman's Journal, which published several fisheries-related poems in each issue of the magazine before the regional publication was folded into National Fisherman in 2006. Broderick explains, van Amerongen "had a sense of fisherpoetry before such a thing existed. I called him and asked if I could have the names for some of his poets... he gave me 40 addresses, and I wrote to all 40." Of the 40 invitees, 39 fisherpoets showed up to the inaugural gathering at the spacious and raucous Wet Dog Café. An unexpected 200 spectators contributed to the roar, and the FisherPoets Gathering was born.

The stories of your life

As an editor and a writer, my greatest joy is finding a story. Once I get a glimmer of a good yarn, I'm like a dog with a bone, and I'll do anything to get at it. I consider myself extremely lucky that my work dovetails with an industry so full of fascinating tales, great and small. American fishermen have a long and rich history of storytelling. The work-song chanteys of Atlantic menhaden fishermen are steeped in their African heritage. But long before those men sang rhymes to pass the time and muster the strength to muscle the next set from the water, seagoing merchant mariners sang work songs to ease labor pains aboard antebellum clipper ships.

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ATY Northeast

Maine yard has the 46-foot market; 25-year-old prop is worth copying

At Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry, Maine, 46 is the magic number. That's Wesmac's standard 46 footer and the new Super 46 with a 17-foot 6-inch beam, 3 feet wider than the older design.

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Northeast Groundfish

Disaster aid package brings good news to long-suffering New England fishery

NOAA had one piece of good news when it announced New England would be awarded $32.8 million out of a $75 million fisheries disaster relief package approved by Congress. That came as industry advocates were pressuring the agency and New England Fishery Management Council to reopen closed areas at the council's February meeting.

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Preparation prevents panic

From U.S. Coast Guard reports

Three hours into a Gulf of Mexico shrimping trip, the skipper of a 67-foot wooden trawler headed to the engine room at approximately 6:15 p.m., leaving his mate at the helm. He was seeking the cause of intermittent electrical power interruptions that were causing the vessel's lights to flicker.
He saw wisps of smoke as he approached the engine room. There were flames near the generator, just forward of the main engine. The skipper stepped back out on deck and yelled to the mate to take the engine out of gear. He told him that he was going to attempt to put out the fire. The skipper used a portable CO2 fire extinguisher on the generator's exhaust lagging, which seemed to be alight. The flames diminished, but then the fire flared, spread to the overhead and electrical wiring, and began burning out of control.

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National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14

In this episode:

NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

Inside the Industry

EAST SAND ISLAND, Oregon—Alexa Piggott is crawling through a dark, dusty, narrow tunnel on this 62-acre island at the mouth of the Columbia River. On the ground above her head sit thousands of seabirds. Piggott, a crew leader with Bird Research Northwest, is headed for an observation blind from which she'll be able to count them.
 
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NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

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