National Fisherman


WASHINGTON — President Obama will sign legislation this week that effectively bans American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia, part of a flurry of recent actions by the White House, federal agencies, international trade unions and foreign governments to address lawlessness at sea and to better protect offshore workers and the marine environment.

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A program used in many U.S. fisheries to protect the marine environment and maintain healthy fish populations may have an immensely important added benefit: preserving the lives of American fishermen.

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There has never been a more urgent time for seafood businesses and fishing nations to make a commitment to sustainability. The world’s oceans are in trouble, with marine life plummeting and the people who are dependent on the sea for income and food left increasingly vulnerable. Data shows populations of fish and other marine vertebrates, including marine mammals, reptiles and birds have halved since 1970.

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Shrimpers and biologists surprised the experts last summer by using modified trawl nets that drastically reduced the amount of popular fish caught and discarded.

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America's lobster industry is sending less of its catch to Canada as processing grows in New England, and the growth could have widespread ramifications for consumers who are demanding more lobster products every year.

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Fishermen in Southeast Alaska are learning about new safety requirements for life rafts that take effect later this month. The changes are included in past Coast Guard re-authorization bills and will mean smaller fishing boats will have to have a life raft to go three miles offshore.

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A Spanish octopus fishery has earned certification under to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Fisheries Standard, a world first for a fishery of its kind.

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The federal lawsuit filed by a New Hampshire fisherman to block NOAA Fisheries' plan to shift the cost of at-sea monitoring to groundfish permit holders has devolved, at least for now, into a paper fight.

Lawyers for plaintiff David Goethel, captain of the Ellen Diane out of Hampton, N.H., have filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Joseph J. Laplante for an expedited hearing on the merits of the case. Federal lawyers have countered with a motion to dismiss the case outright.

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A new video system designed by UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) scientists to assess the population of cod has passed its first major test, giving the researchers confidence that they can use this new approach to help improve the accuracy of future scientific assessments of this iconic species. Recent stock assessments indicate that the Gulf of Maine cod population is low and struggling to recover. Members of the fishing industry contest those results, suggesting the stock is much healthier than depicted in recent assessments.

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A bill in the state Senate Ports and Marine Resources Committee would greatly increase the number of red drum a commercial fishing boat could have on board.

That, a conservation group says, is unacceptable.

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Page 69 of 477

Inside the Industry

The Obama Administration recently announced that it is looking for candidates to be considered for a sustainable fishing prize.

The White House Champion for Change for Sustainable Seafood designation will honor individuals for “contributing to the ongoing recovery of America’s fishing industry and our fishing communities.”

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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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