Mix and match
Friday,30 March,2012 13:27:34
In downtown Portland, Maine, we’re preparing for the bizarre vortex that will become of our Arts District when President Obama and rapper Snoop Dogg hold simultaneous events across the street from each other tomorrow evening.
While odd combinations like this often lead to major headaches with traffic, security and parking, they also give us an opportunity to re-evaluate our surroundings and see them with an outsider’s perspective.
That’s how I felt when I read that Gloucester, Mass., fishermen showed up on a red carpet for the premiere of “Wicked Tuna,” the latest commercial fishing reality series. This one is available on the National Geographic cable channel, as well as online.
Anyone who watches the show or knows anything about commercial fishing will understand the contrast between the red carpet and a red deck. Tuna fishermen see a lot more of the latter, if they're lucky.
But what I love most about this show, aside from the action, is its ability to tell the story of American tuna fishermen. These guys are risking their lives and responsibly fishing a limited resource simultaneously. That’s not a bizarre combination. That's commercial fishing at its finest.
“Wicked Tuna” premieres officially on Sunday at 10 p.m.
For a limited time, you can watch the first episode on the NatGeo site or on the channel's Facebook page.
Friday,23 March,2012 09:12:45
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association released a statement this morning in response to the gathering of commercial and recreational fishermen in Washington, D.C., yesterday. Association president (and NF Highliner) Dave Bitts said the true problem in fishery management is not the Magnuson-Stevens Act but flawed policies that fail to properly fund fishery science, as well as the privatization of public fish resources.
Regardless of the specific reason many fishermen arrived at Capitol Hill yesterday, the result was a large crowd of American workers showing their strength in numbers and getting in front of federal policymakers.
The thrust of the message was that the Magnuson Act should allow for some flexibility with the 10-year rebuilding guideline, considering some fisheries (like Northeast cod) have made adjustments to quotas based on NOAA surveys only to have the data from the survey invalidated three years later.
Fishermen are caught between a rock and a hard place by being forced to rely on flawed science to set their quotas and the unscientific 10-year rebuilding requirement that stands as a standard no matter how bad the science turns out to be.
“We can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to fisheries management that isn’t based on sound science,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
What can fishermen do in cases such as these? If we want to preserve an industry as old as the country itself and small working waterfront towns up and down our coasts, we have to work on both ends of this equation.
Give fisheries in dire straits some flexibility to rebuild, especially in cases of clear good faith effort on the part of the fleet, and work to improve (read: fund) fishery science.
Working the waterfronts
Tuesday,20 March,2012 14:46:41
It’s been a busy week in New England.
I kicked it off in Boston for the International Boston Seafood Show on Monday and Tuesday, where the big talk was sustainability and promoting healthy fisheries.
Oddly enough, I spent a lot of time in Boston talking about Alaska seafood. And specifically Alaska salmon, which in many ways is swimming upstream once again in moving forward with a third-party FAO-based certification program that's not the Marine Stewardship Council.
Salmon seasons may have their ups and downs, but there is no question the fishery is sustainable. Yet, if anyone tries to think outside the box, they have to answer to big-box retailers. We’ll let the Alaska folks do that, because they’re good at it.
But once they pave the way, yet again, for fisheries across the country, don't forget to thank them later. At least buy a few extra sockeye for your Fourth of July party this year.
Moving north from Boston and feeling the need to reorient myself to northern New England, I hopped over to the Maine Boatbuilder's Show at Portland Yacht Services.
Nothing will make you appreciate the heyday of wooden boatbuilding like climbing around in an 80-year-old wooden sailboat.
I'm sure I'll be shocked out of my wooden-boat haze come Wednesday, when I'll meet up with fishermen from around the country for the Keep Fishermen Fishing rally in Washington, D.C.
I hope you can join us there at noon on Wednesday, March 21! For more information, visit www.keepfishermenfishing.com.