Ocean Currents » fishermen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 How Technology is Helping Fishermen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/03/how-technology-is-helping-fishermen/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/03/how-technology-is-helping-fishermen/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:07:32 +0000 Todd Phillips http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13706 Greetings from New Orleans, where I’m excited to bring you some great news about the recreational fishery! After years of careful analysis and deliberation, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council embraced change and voted unanimously to bring the charter for-hire fishery—which is made up of vessels operated by professional fishermen who take paying customers out fishing—into the Digital Age.

Yesterday’s decision directs the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop an electronic logbook reporting system for the charter boat fleet in the Gulf. Electronic logbooks are devices—some no bigger than a smartphone—that charter captains use to record their day’s catch and send it directly to managers.

As a result, accurate tracking and monitoring of fish caught by charter boats will be captured in a fast and reliable way—improving the management of our nation’s fisheries.

Recreational fishing is a favorite past time for millions of people (myself included) and helps supports thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to coastal economies. Because of its importance, it is critical we make sure the resource is sustainable so our children and grandchildren have the same opportunity we have to enjoy it.

To make sure we’re managing fish responsibly, we need accurate data from all fishermen, commercial and recreational. But a lot of our monitoring methods still rely on paper and pencil methods. One of the best ways to improve our data is to start using more technology—which includes everything from global positioning devices to using the cellphones we all carry around. There’s always some resistance to change, but the Gulf Council has found a solution that everyone could agree upon.

A lot of this credit goes to the fishermen who helped pioneer, test and often times re-test electronic logbooks. For nearly a decade, charter captains have been asking for a way to give their data directly to fishery managers so they can review the fleet’s data on a timelier basis than is possible with current assessment methods. They stuck with this fight for many years, and now their hard work is going to pay off.

Ocean Conservancy has been working hard to support the greater use of this technology in recreational fishery monitoring. We believe electronic monitoring will improve the quality, quantity, and timeliness of data in the for-hire fishery. This is a really positive step towards getting better data, and we look forward to working with fishermen and managers in the Gulf to implement this new system.

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Ocean Planning Brings a Taste of New England to Washington, D.C. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/18/ocean-planning-brings-a-taste-of-new-england-to-washington-d-c/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/18/ocean-planning-brings-a-taste-of-new-england-to-washington-d-c/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 11:00:43 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12093

What do lobster fishermen, recreational boaters, research scientists, family aquaculture businesses and renewable energy developers have in common? They’ve all pulled up a chair at a common table to address important decisions being made about our ocean, through a process called ocean planning.

Last week, nearly 30 ocean users from five coastal, New England states came to Washington, D.C., to talk about the Northeast regional ocean plan with Members of Congress and the National Ocean Council at the White House.

These stakeholders came to D.C. with a simple message: with the Northeast on the cusp of releasing the nation’s first ocean plan on May 25, ocean planning is moving forward and provides real benefits to our ocean, the states and ocean industries. It offers a seat at the decision-making table for ocean users across the region and seeks to proactively identify ocean uses and resolve conflicts before they become problematic.

Over the course of two days, these ocean users met with 27 members of Congress and the National Ocean Council to talk about the benefits smart ocean planning has brought to the region and will continue to bring. This visit was a celebration of the hard work the region has put in to the planning process, and also a chance to discuss with federal leaders the significance of this ocean plan. They requested support for the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan and the efforts of ocean users like themselves who have been invested in this collaborative process with the goal of making better, more informed ocean use decisions.

The Experience

What were some of the takeaways for the people who came down from the region, and what does planning mean to different ocean sectors? Check out what three of the individuals that attended the D.C. fly-in last week had to say:

“My job is to empower students in engaging with their community’s greatest asset: the ocean. What excited me about meeting with the Connecticut delegation was seeing shipping, commerce, fishing, and government all working together on ocean planning. Now I can honestly tell my students: our government and ocean users work together! There are possibilities out there for you!”

— Mary Horrigan, New England Science and Sailing (Connecticut)

“We had a diversity of stakeholders attend these meetings with Congress. Did we have differences of opinion? Of course, we weren’t 100% in agreement, but that’s the whole point. The key thing with ocean planning is that we have multiple stakeholders involved and a transparent process. Commercial fishing is everything to the economy of New Bedford. But it’s important to keep in mind that offshore wind and boating are also important opportunities.

— Ed Anthes-Washburn, Port of New Bedford (Massachusetts)

“We really all came together—recreational boaters, shipping, seafood farmers, offshore wind—we are all different, but by working together we provided a unified front. It’s a really exciting thing. The support from the Representatives and Senators from Rhode Island has been huge! We appreciate their rallying for this worthy cause.”

— Greg Silkes, American Mussel Harvesters, Inc. (Rhode Island)

What’s Next?

On May 25, the Northeast Regional Planning Body will release the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan and will welcome comments for 60 days. A webinar will be held from noon-2p.m. EST, during which the Northeast Regional Planning Body will provide an overview of the draft and describe the public comment period.

The Mid-Atlantic is not far behind either—we expect to see the draft Regional Ocean Action Plan, spanning the waters from New York to Virginia in July! Learn more about the Northeast ocean planning process at their website, and learn more about ocean planning at our website.

Ocean Users Gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, which will be released in draft form on May 25th Ocean Users from New Hampshire met with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) Senator Ed Markey (MA) stopped by to talk about ocean planning at a reception for the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, and met with ocean users from across New England Greg and Mason Silkes stand with the Rhode Island oysters their family business supplied for a reception on the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaks about ocean planning at a reception celebrating the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Representative Jim Langevin met with Rhode Islanders to talk about ocean planning in New England Ocean Users from Maine met with Representative Chellie Pingree (ME) Ocean Users from Maine met with Representative Bruce Poliquin (ME) Representative David Cicilline poses with ocean users at a reception on Capitol Hill celebrating the upcoming release of the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Rhode Island Oysters supplied by American Mussel Harvesters for an event celebrating the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Capitol Building, Washington, DC ]]>
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MSA: 40 Years of Rebuilding Fishing Communities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/13/fish-town-usa/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/13/fish-town-usa/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 14:17:47 +0000 Jeff Barger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11912

Bright lights, shops bursting with souvenirs, the laughter of children, the smell of caramel popcorn complete with sunlight sparking rays off the emerald saltwater as America’s largest charter boat fishing fleet bobs in the marina—the “world’s luckiest fishing village” is open for business.

Fish, bait, boat

The lure of Destin—starting back to when Leonard Destin came to this Florida peninsula in the 1840s—has always been fish. Slowly, over the next century, others came. And with time and a growing community, came bigger boats and technological advances. By the 1960s, the once massive schools of fish that inspired Leonard to set up his first fishing camp were history. Boats were going out further for longer and hauling in less and less fish. They were competing fiercely on the water with other vessels—including those flying under foreign flags—for a resource that was fast-disappearing.

Rebuilding a national resource

In 1976, led by Senators Warren Magnuson (D-WA) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) , Congress passed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) establishing the nation’s first marine fisheries conservation legislation. It extended U.S. jurisdiction from 12 to 200 nautical miles from shore, and emphasized scientific management for the long-term profitability of our nation’s fisheries. The act has gone through two authorizations, with the most recent one in 2006 adding science-based rebuilding timelines and annual catch limits to strengthen the legislation.

A journey to sustainable fisheries

Over the past four decades, fishing communities have had to make some tough decisions, often sacrificing short-term gains for long-term benefits. Focusing on the long game is yielding rich results. Thanks to the foresight of fishermen, scientists and decision makers, the US has a thriving coastal economy and one of the best fisheries management systems in the world.

On April 13, 2016, the Magnuson-Stevens Act embarks on its 40th year of supporting America’s journey to sustainable fisheries.

It continues to be championed by those that have invested in its promise, including generations of fishermen and coastal communities like Destin, Florida. It is helping the “world’s luckiest fishing village”—and America—prosper by rebuilding fisheries and putting an end to overfishing, ensuing our coastal communities continue to thrive.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act is critical for the future of sustainable fisheries. Do your part for a healthy ocean and ask your member of Congress to support a strong MSA today!

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Questioning Our Changing Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/22/questioning-our-changing-oceans/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/22/questioning-our-changing-oceans/#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2016 13:00:08 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11722

We all notice when things aren’t quite the same from day to day in our everyday surroundings. Some people’s jobs depend on it. Fishermen, for one, need to notice small changes on the water every day—in the currents, temperatures, and even the fish they’re chasing. Get them together, and these hardworking men and women compare notes on what they’re seeing.

This month, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland, Maine attracted fishermen, scientists, managers and community groups to discuss all things fishing in the region. The featured panel of the 3-day event was entitled “Questioning Our Changing Oceans” where fishermen talked about how waters around the world, particularly the Gulf of Maine, are changing.  This discussion was not just sea tales, though. Scientists presented the latest research and data on environmental changes happening in the Atlantic Ocean, and what the future might hold.

Most fishermen were concerned about how lobsters will respond to ocean change. As the prize fishery in Maine worth about $500 million in 2015, and comprising over 80% of the state’s seafood industry value, “there is a lot at stake. Lobster are also sensitive to environmental changes like rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification.

Rising water temperatures and their likely impacts on Maine seafood this year received the most attention. The fishermen panelists had two other important takeaways for the audience. First, fishermen need to be involved in science and management discussions, because ocean changes will ultimately impact their bottom lines, and because any regulation changes need to be practical. Second, they felt it was unwise to rely too heavily on just one species—right now, lobster.

Maine waters do seem to be changing, but the people of Maine are being proactive in staying on top of the science and planning for the future. Conversations like these are an important and necessary first step for coastal residents and business owners taking action to prepare for a changing ocean from coast to coast.

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A Weekend with the FisherPoets http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/09/a-weekend-with-the-fisherpoets/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/09/a-weekend-with-the-fisherpoets/#comments Wed, 09 Mar 2016 14:30:02 +0000 Corey Ridings http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11592

Every year a crowd of fisherman and fishing community members gather in Astoria, Oregon, to share stories, recite poetry and sing music. FisherPoets, founded by a small group of Pacific Northwest fisherman in 1998, is an opportunity for the commercial small-boat community, friends and locals to gather together away from the docks. No trips to the store, no scrubbing of decks, no mending of nets. Just friends, family and plenty to drink.

Performers come from as far away as Maine, Connecticut and Arkansas, but most are residents of the Western Coast of the U.S. and Canada. Six venues open their doors for Friday and Saturday evening, including the Astoria event center, a sizable hall where the culminating poetry contest is held. Several thousand people attend the event, making it weekend highlight for usually quiet town most commonly known as the place where the Goonies was filmed. Lack of treasure-laden pirate ships aside, the weekend could not have been more fun.

Check out images from the event below!

Right on the waterfront The Columbia Theater I see a door and I want it painted fish. Fish is more than just a dish in Astoria, it visibly permeates the culture of the town. At the Silver Salmon Grille a friendly face invites patrons in. A waterfront view of Astoria, Oregon Not everyone was at FisherPoets. Astoria has transformed into a weekend destination for Portlanders and anyone visiting the Pacific coast, but part of its tourist appeal is the working waterfront. Fish processing plants and industry still inhabit the downtown boardwalk. Here, a pilot goes out to a barge and helps it maneuver into the Columbia. These guys did plenty of barking and fishing, but I never saw them at the event… Mark Lovewell, a reporter and photographer from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, who professionally focused on the commercial island fleet for over twenty years, performs a sea shanty at the Astoria Event Center. Nancy Cook, a former fisheries observer, MCs at the Voodoo Room Saturday night.  She performed an “observer operetta” the previous evening, bringing down the house with an all-too-relatable story of observer romance. Maria Finn shocks and awes with stories of commercial fishing in Alaska. Maria is releasing a novel based on her experiences, and Amy set-nets for salmon in Bristol Bay in the summer. Alan Lovewell, founder and CEO of Real Good Fish, shares stories about the importance of sustainable fisheries and what helping maintain a viable fleet in California means to him. Real Good Fish is a community supported fishery based in Moss Landing, California, which seeks to support local small-boat fisherman by providing a stable market of fresh, sustainable, locally-caught fish to residents of the Monterey Bay and Greater Bay Area.
Images courtesy of Corey Ridings

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The Faces of Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/08/the-faces-of-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/08/the-faces-of-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2015 14:30:53 +0000 Sage Melcer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11193

Want the latest news on lobstermen, shellfish farmers and marine scientists pioneering a changing ocean? Check out Ocean Conservancy’s Scoop.it page! “Changing Chemistry” provides a peek into the lives of shellfish farmers and fishermen nationwide, and explores partnerships with scientists and legislators that led to local success stories. Here’s a sneak peek at some of their stories.

Bi-partisan Effort Ensuring Maine is Preparing for Climate Change

As legislator Mick Devin famously said, “No one comes to the Maine coast to eat a chicken sandwich.” Lobster is Maine’s kingpin commercial fishery and tourism hook; it’s also a shell-building organism that’s potentially at risk from ocean acidification. Lobster, clams, scallops and oysters make up 87% of Maine’s $585 million commercial landings and support about 33,000 jobs. Now politicians, marine scientists, lobstermen, aquaculturists and grassroots organizations are working to ensure these vital industries are prepared for a changing ocean. This is a bi-partisan force to be reckoned with.

Hog Island Oyster Co. Talks Ocean Acidification

Tessa Hill and Terry Sawyer sat down to discuss the benefits of science and industry partnerships. Hill, a marine biogeochemist at University of California, Davis, was approached by Hog Island Oyster Company co-owner Terry Sawyer to monitor water quality conditions around his farm to help understand how acidification impacts aquaculture in Tomales Bay, California. The result has led to an incredibly successful partnership that provides Hill with valuable data, and helps Sawyer adapt to changing ocean conditions.

Flexing Muscles over Mussels

Meet California’s mussel man (no, NOT the Governator) Bernard Friedman, the only open-ocean mussel farm owner in the state since 2003. Friedman’s love for the ocean led him to study sea life, and eventually put his passion into a business model. He recently had to renew outdated permits for his farm, a process that is important for marine conservation but can easily put an aquaculture operation at risk. However with cooperation from members of the Coastal Commission and researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, Friedman’s shellfish love affair sees a happy ending. These relationships will be crucial as future threats like ocean acidification will require smart management and monitoring to protect Friedman’s business.

How One Family Built a Shellfish Powerhouse on Puget Sound

Ever wonder what it feels like to be king of the oysters? It’s another day in the life of the Taylors at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington. From its origins in the 1880s, this fifth generation family-owned business is the largest shellfish aquaculture producer in the country. Yet the company faced its biggest hurdle yet in 2009 when ocean acidification caused millions of oyster larvae to die. Brothers Bill and Paul Taylor reflect on how they manage their operation while staying true to the strong environmental stewardship values their father instilled in them.

Half-shell Hero

The golden years of Chesapeake Bay’s wild oyster fishery have almost faded away; however, innovative watermen are bringing back the vibrant waterfront culture. Oysters, the ocean’s water filter, are ultra-efficient at clearing excess nutrients from the water and can drastically improve water quality. Policies requiring cutbacks in nutrient runoff support a bright future for a healthy Chesapeake ecosystem; allowing oyster farms, such as Hoopers Island Aquaculture Company, to thrive while also improving local water quality.

Want more stories? Follow our Scoop.it page to learn more.

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Red Snapper Season Starts June 1: Not All Smooth Sailing http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/29/red-snapper-season-starts-june-1-not-all-smooth-sailing/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/29/red-snapper-season-starts-june-1-not-all-smooth-sailing/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 18:44:03 +0000 J.P. Brooker http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10278

Photo: Ned Deloach / Marine Life Images

Anglers all over the Gulf of Mexico will spend their weekend getting ready for Monday, June 1,  the first day of the 2015 Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper fishing season. Thanks to the hard work of fishermen, managers and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, fishermen will be able to catch more red snapper this year than the past 8 years.  While we are seeing increases in the allowable catch of red snapper, recreational fishermen have witnessed red snapper fishing seasons shrink year after year. This year the private boat-owning public can fish for a short 10 days while anglers fishing with charter-for-hire captains get 44 days. The charter-for-hire season is a solid increase over the 2014 season, which allowed only 9 fishing days for both components of the recreational fishing sector, but the short 10-day private recreational remains problematic. While there is no arguing that the longer charter-for-hire fleet is fantastic news for captains and their charters, the short private boat-owner’s season illustrates the need for management innovation for the private recreational fishing component that will help anglers access and enjoy the fruits of a healthy and growing Gulf red snapper population.

Federal managers must manage the Gulf’s red snapper as a total body from the beach to the edge of U.S. territorial waters, even as the individual gulf states increase their anglers’ access in their territorial waters by lengthening state-water seasons. Federal managers must account for the states’ longer state-water seasons when setting federal days, therefore being forced by the states’ actions to shorten federal-water fishing to limit the risk of jeopardizing the Gulf red snapper’s rebuilding progress. The states’ actions makes managing the red snapper’s rebuilding plan much more challenging and forces anglers to place more pressure on state-water fisheries. Managing red snapper consistently across state and federal waters makes sense, since fish do not respect political borders, swimming freely throughout their range regardless of state- or federal-water boundaries.

Though fish do not have to respect borders, anglers do. Inconsistent state seasons lead to an inequality in the recreational fishery that left the non-boat-owning public that uses the federally permitted charter-for-hire fleet to access red snapper for only the 9 days that federal waters were open, while the private boat-owning public was able to enjoy their longer state-water seasons plus the days available in federal waters. The inequality faced by the charter fleet and its anglers also threatened the coastal communities that thrive on healthy tourism economies that are serviced by the charter fleet.

Fortunately, for the general public that uses the charter-for-hire fleet to access red snapper and for our coastal communities and their economies, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council adopted an amendment called Sector Separation that splits the recreational red snapper fishery into two subcomponents: the charter-for-hire fleet and the private boat owning public. Sector Separation allows each subcomponent the ability to develop management measures that ensure each sub-sector is not exceeding its share of the recreational quota. This is great news for the resource and the general public that uses the charter fleet that gets 44 days since there is a limited number of federally permitted boats servicing a large number of anglers. But unfortunately, as the states continue increasing state-water seasons, their actions create a perceived inequity for the private boat-owning public that watches their federal-water access remain stagnant or shrink because of a lack of innovative and accountable, component-specific management tools.

The perceived inequity between the two recreational components can be remedied with new approaches to private management.

If the private component is to enjoy longer federal-water seasons, exploring new management ideas for its anglers is essential. More comprehensive data collection for recreational anglers can improve accountability and prevent the sector from exceeding its allowable catch, but other solutions should be addressed, too, beginning with state consistency that would allow greater federal-water access for all anglers and allowing managers the stability to place durable and resilient private angler management tools into place. Improved accountability in the private recreational fishery is the first step to more days on the water for anglers and more fish in coolers for all, while ensuring that red snapper rebuilding efforts continue to be successful.

Tight lines to any and all targeting red snapper!

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