Think big, act fast, go slow
By Jessica Hathaway
Forty years ago, Congress approved the Fishery Conservation and Management Act — precursor to Magnuson. The first lines of the law declare our supply of wild fish to be a valuable natural resource for their contribution to “the food supply, economy and health of the Nation.” It goes on to recognize the economic contributions of commercial and recreational fishing.
Now 40 years into this realm of fishery management, many aspects of the original act’s intent have been lost in cycles of reauthorizations. More than ever we have the ability and obligation to work together to prevent future losses.
If you read these pages regularly, you have seen that the challenges you face are not likely to be unique to your locale. There are fishermen struggling with the same problems in a port thousands of miles away. So what can you do? You can speak up for them and hope that if you need it, they will speak up for you, too.
That’s exactly what Hampton, N.H., draggerman David Goethel did when he filed suit to oppose NOAA’s move to lay the financial burden of at-sea monitoring on the overstacked deck of the Northeast groundfish fleet. Dave is also a former New England council member and a 2004 NF Highliner with a degree in marine biology. Read his letter on page 5.
If you were one of the lucky (albeit waterlogged) attendees of Slow Fish 2016 in New Orleans, you saw firsthand what can happen when the consensus is to find survival solutions for small-boat fleets and working waterfronts. At the same time that the festival’s participants might have been wondering if the city’s levees would hold, they were there together to find ways to bolster the dams protecting small-scale fisheries. Paul Molyneaux covered the story for us, which begins on page 20.
Being part of the future can also mean charting a new course, which is what the founders of Alaska Shellfish Farms did when they made their way from Rhode Island to Homer, Alaska. Emilie Springer profiles the derring-do of our cover model oyster and mussel farmers Weatherly and Greg Bates on page 22.
The Bateses may not fall into a traditional category of commercial fishermen, but they’re part of the next wave that pays respects to the old guard by focusing on small scale, local and community building. Not long ago, small American farms were dwindling. They are reviving, surviving and multiplying thanks in large part to the farm-to-table movement and the reach and expansion of local farmers markets. These movements are local, but their successes are based on shared knowledge across the country and a basic desire to connect to what sustains us. Local food is not just what people want when they have money to spend, it’s what we need to stay healthy — from the way it feeds our bodies to the effect it has on our soil, water and air. This movement is ready to feed on its next source of protein — your fish. Are you ready?