National Fisherman


The annual Fisher Poets Gathering is pretty much exactly as advertised: A group of around 70 mostly commercial fishermen from mostly the Pacific Northwest and Alaska gather in Astoria, Oregon, to read mostly poetry, mostly about commercial fishing. It draws hundreds of people—one account said 700—to hear poems, songs, and stories of this profession, the kind of talk and art that has always flooded and buoyed those who do this work, but that most people never hear.
 
The poetry of fishing runs deep and draws from oral traditions both ancient and modern. At the Fisher Poets Gathering, you’ll hear historians singing shanties formerly sung shipboard and ashore, and you’ll hear audiences join in. In more recent times, high-powered ship-to-ship radio communication has allowed fishermen to be in touch with one another—and to “while away long hours at sea when waiting for the fish to bite by sharing recipes, stories and poems.” Writing, as mentioned in the documentary Fisher Poets, has similarly strong maritime ties in the form of fishermen’s letters home, to loved ones, and so on.
 
The work at the festival ranges widely. In 2012, Lara Lee Messersmith-Glavin gave a long and meandering account of sex, drugs, hippie parents, and fishing. In 2012 and again in 2013, I was most moved by the poems of work, mostly construction and carpentry, by former fisherman Clem Starck. These two were professionalized kinds of writers, presenting polished and powerful pieces of work. Much of the work from the festival has been collected in the book, Salt in Our Veins, a long-running zine called Xtra Tuf, and a site known as In the Tote.
 
In all those spaces, and on stages in Astoria, there is room for other members of the commercial fishing community to take their turn, whether they be fishers, family members, or friends. The event’s poetry contest, where a given theme and certain formal restrictions are supplied, is open to all attendees. Beyond poetry, there’s room for activism, for the politics of the Columbia River, for science about Fukushima or ocean acidification, for art, or for just hanging out, drinking, and commiserating.
 
Read the full story at Pacific Standard>>

Inside the Industry

NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.

The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.

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The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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