Back from the brink
We are living in exciting times for fisheries.
I know, I know. The jobs are not as easy to find; the boatyards are not as busy (or as plentiful); and the regulations can be daunting, to say the least.
But I believe what is happening now is a slow climb out of the nadir of U.S. fishery management. When the TAC for North Atlantic cod goes up, something is going right.
When fishermen can successfully fight for their fishing grounds against vast acres of ocean-based wind farms, someone important is not only listening but hearing.
When salmon return to the West Coast after a three-year dry spell and dams come down to ensure a future for the spawners, good things are happening for fishermen.
When I hear grumbles about the good-old days, I ask the grumblers to compare the way things are now to the way they were 10 years ago.
The fact is it's better out there in a lot of ways. One reason, I believe, is because the public perception of what commercial fishing is and what fishermen do is changing. The Coast Guard likes to talk about the cascade effect — one incident after another leading to a major event. Rarely can you look at a significant incident and point to one factor that changed everything.
The same goes for this slow climb. We can look back on the factors at play (the popularity of "Deadliest Catch," local marketing campaigns, foodie nation sitting up and paying attention when chefs gathered on the Gulf Coast after the oil spill to hold hands with fishermen and encourage Americans to eat U.S. seafood), but really, no single event has caused this shift.
U.S. fishermen have put a lot of resources into non-fishing matters. You have become politicians, marketers, salesmen and experts in federal legal jargon. But more than anything, you got mad as hell and didn't want to take it anymore. Then you got organized.
If you want to relish in the good fight, read our Washington Lookout column on page 11. David Frulla, Shaun Gehan and Andrew Minkiewicz lay out the way fishery management has changed since the enactment of the original Magnuson Act 35 years ago and explain beautifully why fishermen are fighting catch shares so vociferously.
And for a look to a bright future for U.S. fishing communities, Natalie Webster of the American Albacore Fishing Association writes our Dock Talk (page 10) promoting the National Seafood Marketing Coalition's push for federal funding for seafood marketing. As one letter to the editor states (page 13), the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has run wild with success. So why not expand that model on a national level?
Things are looking up, and I love to celebrate that. But let's not forget that the hill ahead of us is long and steep.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body, a group of state, tribal and federal representatives from New England who are working to implement the National Ocean Policy and address critical New England ocean issues, is holding a series of public meetings in May and June.
The meetings are being held to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. The planning body seeks input on these goals and actions. Additional information on the group's progress can be found here.
The meetings will also provide an opportunity to review draft maps and products from initial efforts to gather information on the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation, energy and infrastructure, aquaculture, and recreation.