National Fisherman


Wet Dog Cafe was full to the brim with diners Friday night; there was a waiting list to snag a table. Waiters weaved in between patrons, carrying trays laden with burgers and beverages. But Tele Aadsen's soft voice rang clear as a bell above the low buzz of laughter and clink of dishes.

It was the 16th annual FisherPoets Gathering, a weekend that saw about 70 commercial fishermen and women assemble from across the country in Astoria to read poetry, tell stories and sing songs about their occupations.

"You see things that a lot of people don't get to see," Jon Broderick, co-founder of the FisherPoets Gathering, said of working as a fisherman. "It's not just the fish. It's the work we do and the people we know."

In "Lost at Sea: After the Man in the Tote," Aadsen, of Bellingham, Wash., told the story of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue she witnessed after the fishing vessel Kaitlin Rai went down off Cape Edgecumbe, Alaska, in early September 2012. One of the crew members survived by floating in a fish tote, or plastic bin, for more than 24 hours after the boat sank.

"Fishermen are never a stronger community than in situations like this. When tragedy cuts one of us down, we all bleed," she read, focusing on what it felt like to hear that the ship's crew was missing.

She described the Coast Guard rescue swimmer descend from the helicopter and hoist the lost fisherman safely aboard: "What does that first moment of physical human contact feel like?" Aadsen read. "Had the man in the tote wondered if he'd never again feel touch other than the ocean's assault, the wind and rain's stinging slap? Or had he maintained hope through the night's darkest hours?"

Speakers on stage told many stories throughout the weekend: tragedies and triumphs, homesickness, sleep or the lack thereof, the pride of a first boat, the physical labor, the friendships. Audiences listened to limericks about white gulls, poems on Frankenfish, stories of heartache and songs of the sea. And all of it focused on the art of fishing.

Read the full story at Oregon Public Broadcasting>>

Inside the Industry

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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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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