National Fisherman

This year's oyster harvest is almost nonexistent after weeks of heavy rains sent fresh water flooding into Galveston Bay. Local businesses are struggling to salvage what they can.

"My mother and father started [Prestige Oysters]," said Raz Halili, of Prestige Oysters in San Leon, Galveston County. "They started out as deck hands on a boat, worked their way up from the bottom. The American dream."

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Environmental activist groups continue to use misinformation targeting geophysical surveys in an effort to halt oil and gas exploration and development. As each of their unfounded claims is disproven, they adopt yet another baseless assertion to mislead the public. Among the latest efforts is the claim that geophysical surveys are harmful to fish.

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WANCHESE —— Dewey Hemilright has spent more than half his life in North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry, but he says he has never heard a bigger fish story than the claim by the Outer Banks Seafood Festival that it promotes the harvest he and his colleagues work so hard to haul in.

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CONCORD, New Hampshire — Attorneys for fishermen who oppose a new cost imposed by regulators say they will continue with a federal lawsuit despite a recent concession by the federal government.

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A leading Wisconsin sportfishing advocate is urging anglers to provide input as the Department of Natural Resources considers changes to commercial whitefish rules in Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

"If you enjoy catching walleyes, muskies, whitefish or other species in southern Green Bay, it's time to put your two cents in," said Mike Arrowood, chairman of Walleyes For Tomorrow. "Some things could be on the horizon that would be only negative to sportfishing."

Based on shifts in whitefish abundance, the DNR is mulling changes to its commercial fishing framework for the species.

Although the agency has yet to release a proposed rules change, commercial interests have been seeking higher whitefish quotas in southern Green Bay or the ability to use unfilled quotas from other zones in the lower bay.

Read the full story at the Journal Sentinel>>

As another early heat wave passes, we're reminded of last summer's devastating, record-hot river temperatures that closed down fishing opportunities and killed hundreds of thousands of returning salmon. With new rounds of record-high temperatures impacting Northwest waters, we're bracing our businesses in case we see a repeat of 2015.

Thankfully, those in the fishing industry and all who care about healthy rivers also have reason for renewed optimism about what's on the horizon.

Last month, a U.S. District Court judge in Portland opened the door to meaningful salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the Columbia and Snake rivers after decades of failed plans by the federal agencies that oversee hydro and salmon management. The judge unequivocally rejected the most recent plan for managing threatened stocks of native fish runs for not taking into account the harmful impacts that climate change and dams have on salmon. The federal agencies have spent billions of dollars over the past two decades on a series of flawed federal plans that have been inadequate for the salmon and the commercial fishing and sport fishing businesses they support.

Read the full story at the Oregonian>>

The BP oil disaster cost the Gulf of Mexico's commercial fishing industry $94.7 million to $1.6 billion and anywhere from 740 to 9,315 jobs in the first eight months, according to a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The $355,888 study measured the effect of the Macondo well blowout from May through December 2010, the same period of time that is being used to calculate claims being paid to fishers under a 2012 court-approved settlement agreement between private parties and BP.

The authors of the study, conducted by The Vertex Companies of Boston, say the economics of the commercial seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico are complex, and that a variety of factors contributed to the low and high estimates in their study. In some cases, dramatically reduced catch was partially offset Gulf-wide by price increases driven by both the oil spill and by other factors, such as a disease that limited the availability of foreign farm-raised shrimp.

Louisiana's commercial fishing industry bore the brunt of the costs of the spill, compared to  the four other Gulf states, said the report, released Wednesday (June 22). The highest costs affected the catch of shrimp, oysters, crabs and menhaden.

For instance, the study found that in May 2010, 65 percent less shrimp was landed in Louisiana than in the previous year. Louisiana also saw a 54 percent decline in oyster landings in 2010, compared to 2009, the report said. And the state's oyster revenue also dropped dramatically, by 51 percent over the previous year.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune>>

“My grandfather was a fisherman. My family is still in the fishing industry now," explains “Sista” Felica Ciaramitaro-Mohan of Gloucester. "St. Peter is the patron saint that watches over the fishermen when they go out to sea."

On Sunday, the Sicilian Catholic community of Gloucester, which has long had ties to commercial fishing, concluded its 89th annual St. Peter’s Fiesta in honor of the fisherman in the Bible who became one of Jesus’ first followers and is considered the Catholic Church’s first pope.

The multi-day celebration of the city’s commercial fishing and faith has grown to become a city-wide party featuring parades of statues and icons through the streets, rowing races, the blessing of the city’s commercial fishing fleet, Masses, nine evenings of prayer, a carnival and the greasy pole contest.

Read the full story at WBUR>>

Red salmon are beginning to hit Bristol Bay and across the state, thousands of fishermen are mending nets, hiring crew and preparing to harvest the bounty from Alaska waters and the seas beyond. Today, the average age of a commercial fishery permit holder in Alaska is 50 — up from 40 in 1980. At that time, Alaskans under the age of 40 held nearly 40 percent of the fishing permits. As of a couple of years ago, young Alaska fishermen owned less than 20 percent.

This "graying of the fleet" means that fewer young Alaskans are becoming fishermen. For young people already fishing, advancing in the industry can be hard, especially with the costs of permits, quota and vessels rising.

The numbers are particularly startling in Alaska's coastal villages. Over the past four decades in rural communities around Kodiak, for example, there's been an 84 percent drop in the number of salmon seine permits owned by local fishermen under the age of 40.

It takes about half a million dollars to get set up as a full-time fisherman — a heftier price tag than for a plush house. Today, a seine permit in the Kodiak region costs about $50,000. A salmon drift permit in Bristol Bay runs about $150,000. Halibut quota is being sold for upwards of $50 per pound, an increase from about $15 per pound in 2010.  At today's rate, a young person trying to buy into the halibut fishery either needs a million dollars in cash or be willing to pour all income into a loan payment.

Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

Deviating from plans that had caused an uproar, federal fishing regulators plan to announce Thursday that some of the fishing industry's costs for groundfish monitoring will be reimbursed this year.

The at-sea monitoring program places regulators onboard vessels and in March the federal government started shifting the cost for the monitoring onto the fishing industry, according to Northeast Seafood Coalition Executive Director Jackie Odell.

"The fishery's just not in a profitable place to be taking on this additional burden," Odell told the News Service. She said, "There are some boats that are going out, but it's a mixed bag."

A memo dated Thursday from a National Marine Fisheries Service official sent to congressional offices and obtained by the News Service said the federal regulators anticipate federal funds can cover at-sea monitoring for about 85 percent of the days at sea for the current fishing year. The memo cautioned that the agency does not "expect this situation to recur in future fishing years."

Read the full story at WBUR>>

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Inside the Industry

The American Fisheries Society is honoring recently retired Florida Institute of Oceanography director Bill Hogarth with the Carl R. Sullivan Fishery Conservation Award — one of the nation's premier awards in fisheries science - in recognition of his long career and leadership in preserving some of the world's most threatened species, advocating for environmental protections and leading Florida's scientific response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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The Marine Stewardship Council has appointed Eric Critchlow as the new U.S. Program Director. Critchlow will be based in the MSC US headquarters in Seattle. He is a former vice president of Lusamerica Foods and has over 35 years in the seafood industry.

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