Still talking spill
Friday,20 April,2012 15:42:38
Today the Gulf Coast recognizes the somber anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which began two years ago, taking the lives of 11 oil rig workers and the livelihoods of many fishermen.
Also this week, Gulf of Mexico fishermen are reporting snapper caught with lesions and other physical anomalies, as they have since fishing grounds reopened after the spill.
Last year, most people took the attitude of “wait and see.” This year, the alarm bells are not softening.
NMFS hopes to be able to include some Deepwater Horizon oil spill information in its 2013 assessment of the snapper fishery.
In the meantime, many fishing businesses hang in the balance, and fishermen are being encouraged to settle with BP before anyone understands the scope of the damage.
How is one supposed to put an estimate on ongoing and unspecified damage?
And furthermore, with what entity should fishermen feel comfortable staking their claims? The government, which is administering the Gulf Coast Claims Facility; or BP, which is settling with claimants throughout the region?
Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow fishermen and others affected by the spill, who have been left with far more questions than answers.
Taking a red pen to red tape
Monday,16 April,2012 07:37:32
I was thrilled to learn yesterday that a House committee is drafting a change to the Magnuson-Stevens Act in an effort to reinstate sound management practices on the federal level.
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is attempting to write an amendment that would ensure “informed decisions based on sufficient scientific information,” committee Chairman Doc Hastings told the Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times.
While many New England groundfishermen are relieved for a one-year emergency management rule that allowed the New England council to cut cod quotas by 22 percent instead of 80 percent (which would have been justified if the trawl survey were not suspect), they are understandably concerned about what happens in 2013 without new science or a change to the method of gathering the data.
We can only hope the answer lies in this new legislation and that it sees the light of day.
Federal managers have nothing to fear from cooperative research and data. It’s time we brought the expertise of fishermen to the table across the country.
They’re back, baby!
Monday,9 April,2012 07:44:23
West Coast salmon fishermen are eagerly anticipating a huge season this year with the number of kings estimated at 1.65 million — that’s triple the highest estimate in almost 30 years, since the Pacific Fishery Management Council began its forecasts.
After three years of shutdowns and a modest season in 2011, this kind of comeback has locals salivating for fatty pink fish and fishermen eager to get their gear wet come the start of the season on 1 May.
But fishermen are known for skepticism, so they’ll believe it when they see it. “It definitely gives one hope for a good season, but there are no guarantees,” said Duncan MacLean, of Half Moon Bay, to the San Jose Mercury News. And moreover, most people in the industry understand that this kind of resurgence is likely a result of wet winters and good ocean conditions.
U.S. fishery management is a noble cause, but we should never forget that Mother Nature is the ultimate boss.
In the meantime, let us give thanks for the bounty we have in whatever form it comes to us. Happy Easter!