National Fisherman

National Fisherman - October 2011


Gulf/South Atlantic Stone Crab

As threat from spill diminishes, storms, economy loom like clouds over fishery

A near-disastrous 2009-10 season, fears about the BP oil spill and other unknowns, have not gotten Florida stone crab fishermen down.


Ahi by hand

Hawaii's tuna hunters are masters of gear

By Willy Goldsmith

"Well, this is sort of an awkward time to be getting here," murmurs skipper Kenton Geer as he steers the 43-foot Vicious Cycle toward the next small cluster of diving birds. "The bite can go dead here in the afternoon, but any one of these bird piles can hold the pile — the tunas attack the same little squid and sardines from below," he explains, diverting his gaze from the sounder to note the time on the plotter: 2:02 p.m., Monday, April 11. We arrived at the Cross Seamount — the Mountain, to locals — an hour ago, and aside from a stray mahi mahi that snapped up one of the four trolled jetheads, the five fish boxes remain empty. Several red Victorinox paring knives lie ready, scattered across the top of the boxes along with slap gaffs, 3-foot stick gaffs, and a handful of Little League bats.


Shadows and fog

I was sad to hear this month about a plea deal involving 2003 National Fisherman Highliner Arne Fuglvog.

Like most of the people in the industry with whom I talked about this case, I was perplexed and downcast about it. In a time that I believe the fishing industry is in transition toward a better perception by the American public, this kind of news hurts us all.

Arne reportedly signed a plea deal in early April in which he admitted to falsifying catch records. The arrangement includes a sentence of 10 months in prison and $150,000 in fines. However, an addendum to the plea allows for a provision to decrease his sentence in exchange for information. His sentencing is scheduled for mid-November.


ATY Northeast

Finishing high school pays off; make a plan, don't get shafted

On May 14, a 40-foot kit boat left Wayne Beal's Boat Shop in Jonesport, Maine, on the back of a boat trailer for a 35-mile trip to Cutler, where its owner, Patrick Feeney, was to finish it off.

There was just the hull and top. No engine. No shafting. No bulkheads. And there wasn't any time to waste, because Feeney intended to enter his new lobster boat, the Fraid Knot, in the Jonesport and Beals Island lobster-boat races on July 2.

"We beat it by one day. We threw it overboard July 1st, noontime or 1 o'clock. Had to hook up all the electronics once I got it in the water. The next morning at 7 o'clock we headed to the races," Feeney says. A run of a little more than an hour got him to Moosabec Reach in time for the 9 a.m. registration.


Gulf/South Atlantic Stone crab

Hurricanes only threat to Florida fleet poised for a good year, state takeover

For the first time in a very long time, fishermen can look to the approaching season with confidence born of a good year in both the stone crab and a sister fishery, spiny lobster, in which many of them also participate during overlapping seasons.

Florida stone crab opens Oct. 15 in the wake of strong demand, strong prices and a decent harvest from the previous season, leaving little but the risk of hurricanes as a perennial worry. As of mid-July, weather threats hadn't materialized.


The nick of time

From U.S. Coast Guard reports

The Atlantic scallop fleet has proved to be one of the most dangerous in the United States. Crew members face entanglement with deck winches, propulsion machinery and encounters with heavy gear, along with long work hours in harsh weather.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on a day late in May, a crew of three was aboard a 59-foot wooden scalloper fishing 25 miles off the coast of Point Pleasant, N.J. The mate and crewman were processing on deck. At 6 a.m., the skipper put her on autopilot and went into the fish hold to prep for bags of shucked scallops. He noticed some debris floating in the bilge next to the discharge pump and reached down to remove it; his jacket became entangled with the shaft.


Inside the Industry

The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.


Last week, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski (R), Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) asked Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with Canadian leaders to make sure appropriate environmental safeguards are in place for mine development in Southeast Alaska.

The congressional delegation explained the importance of this issue to Alaskans and the need for assurances that the water quality in transboundary waters between Alaska and Canada will be maintained.

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