Giving swordfishermen a break
Monday,28 November,2011 15:10:54
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas held its annual meeting last week in Istanbul.
I was very happy to hear that Russell Smith, NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of international fisheries, managed to negotiate a hold on the U.S. swordfish fleet quota of 3,907 metric tons.
U.S. swordfishermen have worked very hard to abide by conservation measures to protect seabirds and turtles, prevent other bycatch and rebuild the stock. Strict adherence to these rules has reduced the size of the fleet, and therefore hampered catch rates, leaving the fishery underfished.
Other nations eager to catch more swords are champing at the bit for what is perceived as an excess of U.S. quota. But with fishing jobs on the line in many fishing towns on the Eastern Seaboard (and elsewhere), it's critical to retain our grip on our piece of the pie in hopes that someday the rest of the sword quota will pay for someone's boat, support a family and give back to a waterfront community.
Little victories for fishermen is something we can all be thankful for this year!
Checking in from the Pacific Marine Expo
Monday,21 November,2011 09:16:08
Yesterday was a big day at Pacific Marine Expo, with full aisles, a huge floor to cover, and lots of conferences and special events, including the World Wildlife Fund's Smart Gear award announcements.
Today promises to be even bigger, as we'll hand out our first Boats & Gear awards during our first Boatyard Day celebration.
We are thrilled to highlight the work of Jennifer Lincoln with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health office of Commercial Fishing Safety Research in Anchorage, Alaska, Fred Wahl of Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., and the 100-year-old wooden halibut schooner Tordenskjold.
If you're in the Seattle area, come by CenturyLink Field Event Center at 1:45 for the kickoff of our Boatyard Day, which includes our keynote speaker Guido Perla of Guido Perla and Associates in Seattle.
If you can't make it today, then tomorrow is your opportunity to compete in the Fisherman of the Year Contest at 1 p.m. Sponsors Hercules SLR and Xtratuf have made it interesting with lots of extra goodies in store for our winners.
We look forward to seeing you at the expo!
Monday,14 November,2011 07:40:30
One week from now, we'll be halfway through the 44th annual Pacific Marine Expo at Seattle's CenturyLink Field Event Center (formerly Qwest).
It's an especially exciting year for me because it's my first as editor in chief of the magazine, it's a West Coast Highliner year, we're hosting the announcement of the World Wildlife Fund's Smart Gear Competition winners, and to top it all off, we're rolling out our first ever Boats & Gear awards.
As a fishing magazine, we're all about our fishermen, which is why we take a lot of pride in honoring our Highliners every year. But what about all the folks who support the crews on deck?
The Boats & Gear Awards give us an opportunity to call attention to boatbuilders, designers, and all the other private companies and agencies whose year-round focus is keeping the fishing industry running smoothly, safely and with regular technological advances. All of these elements make life more livable at sea.
I hope you'll join us at the expo to honor all of our award winners. And while you're there, take part in a multitude of fish-focused activities at the show and happening all over the Seattle area.
If you register now, you'll be entered in daily drawings to win a $500 American Express gift card. And if you participate in the Fisherman of the Year Contest on Saturday, you can win up to $400 and other prizes. Awards abound at the expo. The show starts on Thursday, Nov. 17. Don't miss it!
No matter how you slice it
Monday,7 November,2011 08:55:21
It is easy to get caught up in the solemn news of the industry and pass over the bright spots.
This week my eye grazed articles on lagging oyster harvests, tightened shrimp seasons, cod stock controversy, turtle excluder violations, albatross bycatch and salmon anemia.
But one thing that is undoubtedly going well is the expansion of Asian carp processing facilities in Illinois. The invasive fish may be beating down the doors at the Chicago Ship Canal, but the Pearl, Ill.-based Big River Fish company is doing its best to keep the swarm in check.
Last year, Big River began processing Asian carp from Illinois rivers and selling it to a Chinese company for resale to high-end Chinese restaurants. This week, the Midwest company will finalize a deal to expand its processing capabilities to a new location in Griggsville, Ill., which will also create about 61 jobs.
I'll admit, I've never tasted Asian carp (that I know of), but I'm starting to wonder why Americans can't take advantage of this surplus and make something of it.
It's not often we have the opportunity to think of a fishery as excessively abundant.
Make the most of your catch
Thursday,3 November,2011 12:50:19
As NOAA head Jane Lubchenco continues to tout the economic outlook for the New England groundfish fleet, the people who do the hard work of running and managing those fishing businesses met in Portland, Maine, earlier this week.
The consensus (aside from the well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of smaller boats are struggling to stay in business) is that last year NMFS bungled data management from one end of the season to the other. Disappearing quota, mystery VMS reports, and paperwork black holes were some of the top concerns of sector managers on the second day of meetings.
And that brings us to the people who, in my estimation, are the ones wringing every ounce of success out of the catch shares system: the sector managers.
Fishermen are doing hard work out there, no doubt, but without their advocates back at the docks, I suspect many more boats would have been scuttled by now. The level of attrition in the first year alone would have been catastrophic for the fleets and the ports that rely on fishing income.
If only all the nation's fishermen had someone akin to a sector manager to fight for them when NMFS loses or mismanages paperwork.
But until or unless we can find a way to fund fishing advocates for the nation's fleets, perhaps we can turn to regional marketing programs to promote the catch — wild American fish.
Farmed finfish and shrimp continue to flood the market with cheap (and generally comparatively bland) product. Dealer and restaurant mislabeling abounds, fuel prices show no signs of decreasing, so what can you do as a fisherman?
Start with marketing, and let the experts be your guide.
This year our annual Profitable Harvest conference (held Wednesday, Nov. 16 in Seattle — the day before Pacific Marine Expo) will focus on maximizing your access to local, regional and federal marketing and certification programs to make the most from your catch.
If you’re a commercial fisherman who wants to educate your buyers and increase the value of your catch, this event is for you.
I'll see you there.