As a new year stretches out before us, we are tasked again with adjusting to changes in covid-19 mitigation. A potential highlight is scheduled vaccinations for commercial fishermen, who are considered essential service providers.

Coming fast on the heels of the vaccines is a more infectious strain of the virus that is predicted to be the predominant strain by March.

This new strain is expected to be covered by the current slate of vaccines, making that schedule even more important as the industry begins preparations for a busy summer season.

NF and Pacific Marine Expo are teaming up to continue our live online sessions on topics that matter most to the industry. Coming up in the month of March, we’ll be convening experts on how best to prepare for 2021 operations.

On March 18, join us for our 2021 Season Forecast — a look ahead at the changing precautions for commercial fishing in 2021. We’ll take a look at new covid and vaccination protocols, market shifts, and how our fleets are adapting to what the new year brings.

Every month leading up to Pacific Marine Expo this fall, we host a new topic for our Expo Online series, including offshore wind, the effects of climate change, safety training, boatbuilding and financing. You can find them all on our Webinars page, where they are also available for download.

The other significant transition is federal leadership. Outgoing NMFS Administrator Chris Oliver writes his farewell column, and 16-year NOAA staffer Paul Doremus has stepped in to serve as acting director.

At press time, we also awaited the confirmation of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as the nation’s new Secretary of Commerce. And rumors swirled about new leadership TBD for NOAA and NMFS.

Regardless of whose names are on these placards, the industry will have an uphill battle to be noticed in a sea of hot topics. As fishermen on every coast negotiate for access to vital grounds among the juggernauts of offshore aquaculture, offshore wind, marine mammal protections, and coastal infrastructure — not to mention ongoing pandemic-related restrictions — the reputation of and demand for local seafood has opened doors for the nation’s fishermen.

Supporting our working waterfronts and buying domestic seafood are critical to national food security, which should remain a priority post-pandemic.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 16 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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