National Fisherman


We had only known Paul Hiltz and his buddy for a couple of hours, so we thought they were kidding when Hay Island came into view. "See all those grey things?" Hiltz asks, pointing to what we figured were hundreds of big rocks. "Those are seals."

First, let's address the issue of cuteness.

A full-grown grey seal is bigger than any fat man you know, and when you walk up to one, it bares its teeth and makes a noise like the snoring that follows a dozen beer.

They defecate prodigiously.

Hay Island is an hour's trip from Main-a-Dieu in Cape Breton by lobster boat, and during our visit in mid-February, it was populated by thousands of seals.

The only ones with white fur were small pups that were stillborn or had died shortly after they were born. Bald eagles and seagulls had picked clean the meat from their heads, so their skulls were almost as bright as their frozen bodies.

The fur on a newborn grey seal turns from white to brown or mottled less than a month after birth.

"There's a nice one," Hiltz says of a seal as he walked the island, which we judged to be about the size of Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, although without a single tree.

"That one would make a nice mat."

In the spring, it will be lobster season for the fishermen of Main-a-Dieu, who, at other times of the year, supplement their living by dragging for scallops or diving for sea urchins.

Hiltz is also a seal hunter. Or rather, was a seal hunter. Once part of a crew that harvested 400 seals on Hay Island in a single day, he hasn't been on a hunt in three years. The market for seal products has all but disappeared.

"Why is it all right to kill cows and chickens, but not seals?" he asks. "I can't figure that out."

Read the full story at the Herald Magazine>>

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...
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