Ocean Currents » fishermen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:30:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 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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Stop Congress from Fishing for Trouble http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/31/stop-congress-from-fishing-for-trouble/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/31/stop-congress-from-fishing-for-trouble/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:35 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8813

© Wesley Hitt / Alamy

We’ve made incredible progress in reversing overfishing. This has been good for both the environment and jobs in fishing. Through smart fishery legislation, we’ve been able to bring back fish populations that were crashing due to years of overfishing.

But all of our progress is about to be destroyed! In the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings (R-WA) is working to reverse the very legislation that has brought our ocean and fishermen such success. Rep. Hastings is trying to pass legislation that would create a new law that would allow overfishing and would eliminate deadlines to rebuild fish populations.


We can’t let this happen. Decades of progress will be reversed if this new legislation is passed. Will you help protect our ocean from overfishing?

Please take action today and tell your Congressional Representative to vote NO to Rep. Hastings’ legislation when it comes to the floor.

Healthy fish populations are essential to ocean ecosystems and to the local economies that depend on them. Please take action today! Together, we can truly make a difference.

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“Shifts Happen”: Maine’s Fishing Communities Talk Climate Change http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/12/shifts-happen-maines-fishing-communities-talk-climate-change/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/12/shifts-happen-maines-fishing-communities-talk-climate-change/#comments Mon, 12 Aug 2013 21:00:14 +0000 Corey Ridings http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6502 Lobster boats in Maine

Photo: rkleine via Flickr

On a recent day that would otherwise have been perfect for fishing, a group of Maine fishermen and lobstermen opted to remain indoors. They gathered to discuss an issue serious enough to tie up the boats: the future of fishing in the face of climate change.

Increasing carbon pollution and its impacts on the ocean is something that may seem distant and far away for many. But fishermen are seeing changes now and living new realities today. Members of Maine’s fishing communities met recently to discuss these changes during a workshop hosted by the Island Institute, a Maine group dedicated to sustaining local coastal communities.

Shifting fish populations due to warming waters are bringing new species to Maine and pushing others out. Lobsters are more plentiful than ever, a would-be boon except for an excess of “shedders” (also thought to be because of a warming ocean) that sell for a much lower rate than the usual hard-shelled individuals.

Green crabs, an invasive species, have moved north as waters have warmed, and are eating their way through the local shoreline, leading local clammer Walt Coffin to conclude, “We’ll be out of business in two years.”

Ocean acidification is another issue fishermen are contending with today. This process is occurring because of excess carbon pollution being absorbed by the ocean, resulting in an increase in the ocean’s acidity, which spells trouble for shell-building animals. While not as immediate or visible as a swarm of invasive crabs, it also has the potential to seriously damage local industries and cripple economically important fish stocks.

We already know that ocean acidification has caused alarming losses in the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry, and the East Coast is becoming equally concerned about how acidification will impact commercially important fish species.

There is no easy answer, but there is agreement from industry, scientists and conservationists alike—we can and must do something to ensure a future for our iconic fishing and shellfish industries in the face of these threats.

Change can’t come from the waterfront alone though. Local, state and federal leadership is needed to tackle a problem of this proportion. The Maine legislature illustrated this in June, when it passed a resolution recognizing ocean acidification as “a threat to Maine’s coastal economy, communities and way of life.” The resolution cites reasons for action including the high susceptibility of the Gulf of Maine to ocean acidification and the value of fisheries to Maine’s economy (over $600 million in 2012 for those who are counting).

In light of all the challenges the New England fisheries are facing, it’s hard to even think about a future threat so dark and seemingly hard to address as climate change and ocean acidification. But the workshop was inspiring despite the dire predictions. It is clear that solutions are out there, members of the fishing community want to take action and management can respond.

In summing up the meeting that day, speaker Mike Fogarty said, “shifts happen.” The real question is how we respond to them.

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