Written by Jen Finn
The salt of the ocean
The search for our annual NF Highliners begins with lots of phone calls, some emails, a few texts and inevitably results in some hand-wringing along with the sense of satisfaction that we take from the opportunity to pay a little honor to those who give so much to the commercial fishing industry.
I find the process to be deeply satisfying because it confirms for me that this industry is filled with good people who care deeply about the livelihoods of the nation's fishermen as well as the quality and quantity of the fisheries.
This year we honor Dan Falvey of Sitka, Alaska; Bill Webber Jr. of Cordova, Alaska; and Larry Collins of San Francisco (p. 30). Our 2011 Highliners have demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation and dedication to their commercial fishing communities as well as the quality of their catch.
We are also proud to feature in this issue the Tordenskjold, a highliner in her own right (p. 38). This wooden halibut schooner has been fishing for 100 years, and with the right owner — and maintenance — she could go another hundred.
On the other end of the spectrum is one of Alaska's young setnet skippers, Shannon Ford, who is leading the cutting edge in fishing safety — with PFDs. That's right! The PFD may not be a cutting-edge device, but its use in commercial fishing is sorely out of date. Ford's amazing tale of survival (p. 42) — along with two crew members — has transformed her into a staunch advocate for personal safety and flotation onboard commercial fishing boats. And now she has the ocean cred to back it up and end any arguments before they begin.
On the high-tech front, the International Pacific Halibut Commission is using smartphones to improve halibut tracking (p. 25), the Gulf of Maine Research Institute is helping Northeast groundfishermen use digital vessel trip reports to ease the restrictions of sector management (p. 14), and Simrad Fisheries unveils a groundbreaking real-time trawl camera (p. 56).
The staff of National Fisherman is proud to shine the beacon on the many stars and upstarts of the U.S. commercial fishing industry.
– Jessica Hathaway
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