Written by Jen Finn
Welcome to 2012!
Between poring over the Crew Shots (p. 24) and best of Boats & Gear (p. 32) and getting ready for Pacific Marine Expo (where we'll honor our 2011 Highliners) as soon as we ship this issue, I could not be more energized by the U.S. commercial fishing industry right now.
Sure, my desk is a disaster; my plants are gasping for help with their parched roots; and to top it all off I toasted my hard drive this week, so in some ways I'm just limping along until we get to Seattle.
But none of that matters because there is an invigorating pulse in the fishing industry. It was a good year for a lot of fishermen. And for those who may not have had a great year, there's energy around taking the industry back from the black hole of precautionary approaches and finding ways to rely on (and fund) comprehensive data based on collaborative research.
Perhaps more people are starting to see that sometimes no matter what you do, you can't bring a stock back to a desired level because fishing is not the only "pressure" on marine ecosystems.
The Gulf Coast is having a tough go at it with oysters and shrimp, but vermilion snapper is a bit of a Cinderella story, with open access playing the part of the glass slipper. Read more on page 21 about how our Southern brethren are struggling to make sense of red snapper IFQs while the B-liners, restricted only by a size limit, are surpassing the carefully managed reds in value and volume.
Chesapeake Bay fleets (and yards) are finally reaping some rewards for a widespread spat-seed-planting initiative (page 37). Longtime field editor Larry Chowning details one Virginia waterman's first endeavor at building a deadrise skiff that can handle the chop as well as the shallows (page 28).
In New England, where the attrition of catch shares looms over many small- groundfish boats, a recent council-led meeting explored a lot of the problems in the first two years of sector management. There still may be little hope for the long-term future of the small boats, but the overall feeling in those meetings was relief that the problems are being addressed. Read more about the sessions on page 15.
Southeast Alaska crabbers got a red king crab season for the first time in several years. The quota is small, but the price is strong. And anything is a help for Dungeness fishermen who have watched their fishing area shrink under an expanding population of sea otters (more on page 17).
I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2012 has to offer and keeping our readers in touch with their fellow fishermen across the country.
– Jessica Hathaway
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.Read more...
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.Read more...