Diesel driven

Get your motors running — and keep them that way, at optimum speed. That's what our annual diesel issue is all about. The Diesel Directory, which begins on page 28, offers a rundown of specs on just about every marine engine you could be in the market for, as well as a few stories from fishermen around the country who repowered this year.

If you think a repower is in your near future, be sure to read Julie Decker's Northern Lights column on page 7. Decker, director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, focuses on basic findings from the first stage of the foundation's energy audit pilot program. Some small-boat operators may brush off these tips as feasible only for big-boat fleets. But it's the little guys who are making and breaking it every day on the fine line between fuel and maintenance expenses and the value of the catch.

Pretty soon, I just may be hitting the road to drum up support for another make or break deal — rewriting the Magnuson-Stevens Act to better serve fishery management, fishing communities and the fishing industry as a whole. Dr. Brian Rothschild, president and CEO of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass., has a not-so-modest proposal to rewrite the act, to fine-tune the 10 national standards down to five and bring emphasis to the big picture, rather than focusing on a single element — overfishing. You might call it ecosystem-based management on a grander scale — including fishermen and their communities in the larger ecosystem of fisheries.

The Center for Sustainable Fisheries is also guided by former Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a longtime proponent of fishing communities and healthy fisheries, and Scott Lang, former mayor of New Bedford. The center's goal is to establish a baseline for better data, better management and stronger fisheries. It's time to protect fishing communities by ensuring their long-term viability, but not at the expense of healthy fisheries. Rothschild knows we can't get there without improving the science upon which our management is based.

It might seem blasphemous to propose a rewrite of the act that has guided management of our fisheries for nearly 40 years, but Rothschild was in on the ground floor of the Magnuson Act. In his keynote address at Pacific Marine Expo in November, he said, "I can well remember Warren Magnuson saying at the passage of this act, 'At last, fishing communities and their fishermen would have their say.'"

I think one thing we can all agree on is that if that was the act's original intent, it has been led off course in the intervening decades. What will it take to get us back there? No one can say for sure.

But if there's anyone I feel comfortable putting my faith in to lead the charge to restore the act to its original intent, it's Brian Rothschild and his bipartisan and hardworking fellow board members at the Center for Sustainable Fisheries. I hope that over the coming months you will join us in the conversation. Stay tuned here, on our website and our Facebook page.

- Jessica Hathaway

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation