I was honored to sit down with NF Highliner and unrelenting fisheries advocate David Goethel recently to talk about the covid pivot and what fishermen are doing to keep their boats running.

"It's certainly been interesting to watch what's unfolded this year. First of all of course there's far less groundfishermen than there used to be. There's only six of us left in New Hampshire. We had over 100 in 2,000. Of those few people left, the coronavirus situation has put people into a rather unique position of having to move their product."

Goethel is a longtime member of the Yankee Fishermen's Co-op, which has downshifted from selling to major wholesalers to the public, primarily.

"Probably 90 percent of our volume went to large wholesalers, went to Boston, New York, Montreal, Toronto," Goethel said. "We're lucky at the co-op in that we have a fish market, and the public has responded in an amazing way. And we're selling just about everything we catch right through the market because people have realized the value of a short supply chain. They see my boat unloading, and they see the fish come through the door a few minutes later and they know it's only been handled by two people."

But New England fishermen are now on the eve of their busy summer season, and they need help from NMFS.

"Our job is to feed the American public, and NOAA Fisheries' job is to help us do that. And I'm not seeing that help," Goethel said. "We haven't got five years to study this."

Watch the video for the full interview, including crewing and maintaining a boat in a pandemic, what fishermen need from NMFS, an update on his fisheries observer lawsuit, and more.

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Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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