Only a fool looks back without looking forward.
My task every year when the NF staff puts together our annual Yearbook issue is to review and project, always with a hopeful eye. And it’s also my job as I make the annual rounds to regional fishing trade shows and conferences.
I talk to fishermen about what their recent seasons have been like and what they expect next year; attend conferences that review all variety of studies and try to project a future for many aspects of commercial fishing; and catch up with the land lubbers who run the shoreside businesses.
The themes this year are climate and control. Fishermen all over the country are worried about what changing ocean temperatures (among other influential factors) will mean for their fishery this year and this century. They are also worried that their access is being stripped away, as the powerful forces behind catch shares spread their influence into every facet of the seafood industry.
For the most part, they speculate, wring their hands and hope. But I have also seen a huge upwelling of motivation to do something.
This weekend, I’ll be at the International Boston Seafood Show attending meetings and receptions aimed at moving forward with a national marketing agenda for commercial fishing.
This effort holds significant promise for the future of U.S. fleets across the country. More than anything else, marketing efforts can result in increased ex-vessel prices for commercial fishermen. It’s certainly something to believe in at a time when faith in the future is at an all-time low in this industry. I hope we can start to turn that around.