There’s no task more daunting and more rewarding than naming our annual Highliner Award winners. I often feel unqualified to decide who should get the award among fishermen who have worked for decades in this industry. But I try to do my homework and talk to dozens of people who serve all aspects of the U.S. commercial fishing industry.??
This year I am especially delighted to include Dr. Brian Rothschild in the list of honorees with a special award for lifetime achievement.
??Rothschild is known from coast to coast in the fishing industry, and not as a result of self-promotion. He is a brilliant scientist with the uncommon inclination to think highly of small fishing communities and laborers.
??This week, Rothschild announced strides toward yet another monumental outreach project with the fishing industry. The School for Marine Science and Technology, which he helped to found at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, has committed to conducting an independent groundfish survey to allow Northeast fishermen and managers to get a better look at the anomalies that are apparently taking place in Gulf of Maine stocks.
??The new groundfish season begins 1 May. But the infrastructure of many small New England ports is unlikely to survive another year of consolidation in the fleets. The attrition is caused in part by the third year of catch shares and sector management and in part by predicted extreme cuts to fishing quotas as a result of two drastically different surveys, one of which must be a consequence of a seriously flawed assessment.??
“(The National Marine Fisheries Service) is saying they don't have time to review the assessments that are on the table,” Rothschild told the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard Times. “But this is really high stakes and we need to do something before 1 May.”??
I am so grateful the Northeast industry has someone like Rothschild and a team like the faculty and staff of SMAST to provide an honest insight to the groundfish stocks. I hope NMFS agrees to do the work the service was designed to do and steps up to the plate to work with these dedicated scientists and researchers.
??For more on Rothschild's history with the industry and profiles on our three East and Gulf coast Highliners, check out the November 2012 issue of National Fisherman.