The big picture on bluefin
Monday,29 November,2010 08:38:19
Three years ago, then-NMFS chief Bill Hogarth proposed a fishing moratorium for the Eastern Atlantic bluefin at a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
Obviously and regrettably, he did not have enough support to push the ban through. However, what he did have was an understanding of U.S. fisheries and the state of global fisheries on the whole.
A lot of people in the industry grumbled about some of Hogarth's maneuvers. But with him as the leader of the U.S. fishing industry's regulating agency, fishermen at least had a fishing advocate who was working toward making things right for the industry, from stocks to docks.
Now fishermen are contending with NOAA director Jane Lubchenco, whose every action in office seems to leave her constituents reeling.
This week, Lubchenco is attending the annual ICCAT meeting, and her comments seem to bypass the big picture: "When there is uncertainty in science we believe that it is important to err on the side of caution. We believe that it is appropriate therefore to seek lower TACs for bluefin tuna for both sides of the Atlantic."
Only someone who does not grasp that Western Atlantic fishermen have been following the precautionary principle and fishing legally under strict quotas in an effort to preserve their stock would suggest that the solution to saving bluefin is to reduce quotas on both sides of the Atlantic.
Only someone who doesn't know Mediterranean countries historically overfish their quota with no regard for bluefin's longevity would imagine that quota reductions could possibly be a long-term solution to the problem of illegal fishing.
I'm not sure where the uncertainty in the science may be. I don't believe we can deny that the bluefin's decline in the Eastern Atlantic is a persisting problem. U.S. fishermen have accepted restrictions with the hope that preservation on one side of the ocean could save the stock as a whole. But we cannot go it alone in a global fishery. What we need is enforcement of quotas on the other side of the ocean.
In the meantime, it would be nice to reward the fishermen-stewards of the resource on this side of the Atlantic with an incremental bump in their quota following an unprecedented season on the U.S. and Canadian east coasts.
While a U.S. delegation of senators and representatives (from both sides of the aisle) seeks to "pursue a modest, yet scientifically justifiable increase in the total allowable catch of western Atlantic bluefin tuna," fishermen continue to suffer under the direction of a leader apparently disinterested in the past, present and future of a great American industry.
Thank you for your time.
Editor in Chief, National Fisherman
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The expo is on
Monday,22 November,2010 08:39:52
I can think of no better way to begin my stint as editor in chief than spending time in Seattle talking to fishermen.
The first Profitable Harvest Direct to Market Forum on Tuesday was a great way to kick off the week by delving into ways to move high-quality niche products forward and keep fishermen on the water and in the marketplace.
Pacific Marine Expo was off to a great start yesterday with full aisles, a great round of conferences and a keynote presentation from Jeff Steele of SeaLand Environmental, the company greening the crabber Time Bandit.
Spike Walker is at the show, signing his new book "On the Edge of Survival." Today at 2:30, catch the premiere of the incredible documentary "Lessons from the Galaxy: Tragedy and Courage on the Bering Sea." On Friday you won't want to miss the Fisherman of the Year contest at 1 p.m. And in the meantime there are thousands of industry people and products to see.
If you're in the area, come down to Qwest Field Event — and be sure to stop by booth 103 to say hi.
Thank you for your time.
Editor in chief, National Fisherman
The will of the people
Monday,8 November,2010 10:09:26
Bismarck said politics is the art of the possible, but many fishermen would dispute that, because so often it is impossible to make sense of what politicians do.
Even so, Bismarck rightly appreciated that there is an art to manipulating “the affairs of men” to one’s advantage that begins with perceiving what it is possible to achieve.
And while power and money are undeniably assets in the practice of politics, so, too, is the will of the people.
We have seen this in Alaska this fall as U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, after being blindsided in the Republican primary, engineered what may well prove to have been the first winning write-in campaign in more than 50 years.
Key players in the diverse coalition of Murkowski supporters have been the United Fishermen of Alaska, which represents thousands of fishermen and 38 commercial fishing associations, as well as the 8,500-member Bristol Bay Native Corp., many of whose shareholders are salmon fishermen.
Alaska fishermen appreciate Murkowski’s support on a number of matters, including Exxon Valdez oil spill tax implications, salmon habitat protection, Capital Construction Fund reform, Clean Water Act enforcement and other issues.
Throughout the fall campaign, they displayed their appreciation with an outreach program that included get-out-the-vote efforts, blast e-mails, post-card mailings and plain old-fashioned sign waving.
And on Tuesday, “write-in” ballots garnered 41 percent of the vote, vs. 34 percent for the Republican candidate and 24 percent for the Democrat.
We tip our hats to the possible, and to the UFA, the Bristol Bay folks, and all those who make it so.
Thank you for your time.
Editor & Publisher, National Fisherman