"Each year hundreds of millions of dollars of fish that could be caught under rigid conservation regulations are either not caught or thrown back into the sea as dead bycatch. How can such waste be tolerated in a climate of severe economic and employment challenges?" Feb, 18, 2010
Pay special attentionto "Trawl-Gate" and "Data-Gate": These are unbelievable cases in which data were collected using the wrong fishing methodology; and then bureaucrats managed to mangle data handed to them by the fishermen, because as the National Marine Fisheries Service's Gloucester-based regional administrator, Patricia Kurkul, with total impunity stated, "given the amount of data we receive and process each year, currently exceeding 1 million records, errors do occur. ..." Feb, 19, 2010.
After 15 years of sacrifice to rebuild fisheries, at the cost of jobs and infrastructure and upheaval in fishing communities, stocks are rebuilding at an unprecedented pace, and groundfish stocks are at their highest levels in generations....Al wants the promise kept that if the fishermen did their part, they would be allowed to fish when the stocks were rebuilt. Feb, 27, 2010
The recent Pew report, "Design Matters," speaks of "science-based" catch limits. But this is a bogus concept. Science can tell us the approximate size of a sustainable fish stock. But the selection of an annual limit requires a judgment about how fast the sustainable fish stock should be reached. March1,2010
March 10, 2010
The Gloucester Daily Times Wed Mar 10, 2010, 05:40 AM EST
To the editor:
One only needs to review the dramatic results we have achieved over the last 20 years to observe that over the long haul, stocks can and will recover.
They have. It was fishermen who suggested and supported mesh size increases and their respective fish size increases, to dramatically increase juvenile escapement.
It was fishermen who designed nets to virtually eliminate ground fish retention and greatly increase size selectivity in the shrimp and whiting small-mesh fisheries.
It was fishermen who have been inextricably entwined in ground fish, tuna, monkfish, and many more successful co-operative research projects, that have greatly increased our understandings of gear selectivity, migratory habits, reproductive rates, and our overall interaction withe marine environment — all programs gutted by the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget.
And it was fishermen who proposed viable alternatives all along to government proposals that, while being within the accepted confidence margins, were vetoed by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service — which would then, predictably, accept its own proposal after brow-beating the New England Fishery Management Council into submission.
The overall ground fish biomass has recovered to its highest levels in nearly 30 years, and those fishermen who've survived the last 25 years have done the heavy lifting.
Those who haven't, perhaps, have borne the heaviest burden of all. When you do the "old math," NOAA's management philosophy seems to be, "Same old carrot, just a longer stick."
And to reach it, you only need long arms, long enough arms, to dig into deep enough pockets.
PAUL COHAN Gloucester
"I just want to make sure the urgency is there of the yellow tail . It kinda makes me sick to my stomach just hearing Jimmy saying zero possession will get us through one year when in my opening statement our TACwas 13,000 metric ton, and we have to focus on the survey. Everything comes down to that survey. If the survey is wrong, the calibration is wrong, it flows right through the system. That's when management is wrong, the Science Center is wrong, you're doing your best job, but the information you're getting is wrong, it comes to be flawed science. Management, or where we are today, what we can do, between bothfleets, it stems from that survey. As mentioned earlier we need industry surveys. Someone also mentioned the flat fish net, doing a survey on the flat fish."
"We need that." Richie Canastra, May 23, 2012
After reviewing the audio tapes of the working group meeting, I was struck by the impromptu appearance of Russ Brown, and his open, and unexpected revelations that Bigelow which does have a cookie sweep for the net that is too small, towed to fast, and is used to sample the eco- system as a whole clearly stated there were trade offs that were made to achieve that mission.
I talked to a friend of mine that knows Russ Brown. He had nothing but praise.
In 2002 he was named chief of the NEFSC’s Ecosystems Surveys Branch, which is charged with conducting long-term and broad-scale offshore surveys of finfish and invertebrate resources from Cape Hatteras to the Scotian Shelf. The Ecosystems Surveys Branch is responsible for conducting three multispecies bottom trawl surveys, a northern shrimp bottom trawl survey, scallop and clam dredge surveys, and an Atlantic herring acoustics survey.
“Russ Brown is well-known to everyone at NEFSC and to others who work in NOAA’s Fisheries Service and in the broader community. He is well-respected for his scientific work, his leadership and his administrative skills,” said Acting NEFSC Science and Research Director William Karp. “Since joining the NEFSCstaffin 1994, Russ Brown has taken on increasingly complex and challenging responsibilities and has demonstrated an ability to work well with staff and stakeholders and to advance the science of NEFSC and the Fisheries Service.”
That is a small consolation when the New England Fishing industry is dying because of the agency sampling the eco system as a whole. The future for our fishermen depends on the science that will tell us what is out there, utilizing the best technology, in this case, a cookie sweep that will flip up flounders instead of roller gear that misses them.
From different conversations, I've learned the Bigelow operates 24 hours a day, while at sea, doing survey work.
When I was fishing, I always had the night tows so the skipper could get some bunk time. The night tows never produced like the early and daylight tows. Why this is not considered is troubling. Maybe its an operational economic issue, but it is also having a negative effect.
Fishermen know how to catch fish. They know when to catch fish. Bureaucratic bean counters, and scientists are not fishermen. No one on the Bigelow can call themselves a fisherman.
I do not have confidence in the current mission of R/V Bigelow. No one does. The lack of confidence has been apparent for quite awhile. While digging for information about collaborative research, I stumbled upon some PDF's that had concerns going back to 2007- 08.
PROBLEMS IN THE FUTURE? From the article
Surveying the Data a Look Inside the NEAMAP Project
The Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program Aims to Improve Fisheries Information and Fisheries Management by Karen E Wall
Ruhle said the frustrating part of being involved inNEAMAP and on the panel that helped design the net, and the trawl survey is the advice solicited, from the panel was now being ignored.
The nets were developed for use on the near shore trawls are also slated to be used for the trawl surveys by NMFS's new research vessel, the Bigelow, both Ruhle and Gartland said. While the idea of using the same nets sound sgood on the surface, Ruhle said he foresees a big problem with it, namely the fact that the Bigelow is significantly larger than the Darana R, and as such, the net won't work as well or as accurately............Other commercial fishermen sitting on the panel with Ruhle sent a letter in April to Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, The Under Secretary of Commerce in charge of Oceans and Atmosphere , expressing their concerns about the fact that NEFSC ignored the panels advice on the gear settings, and the survey design, among other issues. Read more here.
Well, here we are, now in the future, and the future looks as bleak as ever, while fishermen tell us the fish are out there to be caught, while the government says they are not. Russ Brown told us why.
What is the way forward?
Monday, May 16, 2011
Reed Joins Local Fishermen, Scientists to Support Collaborative Fisheries Research
POINT JUDITH, RI -U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined local fishermen, officials from the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF), and the captain, crew, and researchers of the Darana R to discuss collaborative fisheries research and the latest efforts to collect more accurate fisheries data along the northeastern United States.
The work being done onboard the Darana R matches up scientists with fishermen who have the local knowledge and expertise to conduct a survey of Rhode Island waters that will develop data that can help inform management decisions.
The Darana R is a 90 foot trawler operated by the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP) and staffed by a team of researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). The NEAMAP survey work is an integrated, cooperative state-federal data collection program where fishermen work with scientists to conduct at-sea survey work to help the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in their stock assessments. This project has value for Rhode Island's fishing industry because it augments NMFS survey work conducted by the 209-foot NOAA survey ship, Henry B. Bigelow.
"Rhode Island's fishing industry is a vital part of our economy and our traditions. Our commercial fisherman do some of the most dangerous work there is, and I am pleased to have secured federal funding to boost ccollaborative research between fishermen and researchers to address challenges facing Southern New England fisheries. The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation deserves great credit for bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to develop practical solutions. This NEAMAP survey provides one more data set that can help inform fishery management decisions," said Reed.
The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation recently issued a $191,000 sub-award for the second year in a row to this team to cover the costs of doing the survey work in southern New England waters. The CFRF's ability to do this is directly attributable to Senator Reed's past efforts to secure over $3.4 million in federal funding for cooperative fisheries research for the CFRF to administer since 2008.
This is the way forward. Collaborative research between fishermen and marine science university's.
The track record of SMAST, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and commercial fishermen utilizing commercial fishing vessels like the F/V Darana R, is already established. The success of SMASTS Yellow tail avoidance, their scallop surveys, and the VIMS NEAMAP Program stand on their merit.
We need a small fleet of real fishing vessels doing this important work. With real fishermen.
Put the Bigelow in mothballs, or just scrap it.
The survival of New Englands Commercial fishing fleet depends upon that.
A record number of fish populations
By Michael Souza, About.com GuideMay 29, 2012
According to the annual report to Congress by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries arm, NMFS, a record number of fish populations have been rebuilt in U.S waters, although problems still plague the high-profile New England fishing industry. The report was released early May............ 27 fish populations have been rebuilt, showing years of effort and sacrifice by fishermen to follow rebuilding plans. Regulators also applauded a decrease in the percentage of species where overfishing is occurring, from 16 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2011.........a 22 percent cut in the catch of cod in the Gulf of Maine and an 80 percent cut in the yellow tail flounder catch on Georges Bank..........Fishermen have predicted catastrophe for the industry by next year unless something changes. Also, fish reproduction on important stocks has recently lagged in New England, compared to other regions, and it is unclear why.
Many fishermen believe the problem is flawed fishery science. Their doubts have recently been fueled, and rightfully so, by odd test results. For example, Gulf of Maine cod were expected to be sustainable this year, but a study last year decided the opposite, causing the 20 percent cut.
In the first quote, Hundreds of millions of dollars of fish that could be caught.....think of the ramifications! The multipliers in the chain of commerce, and those effected by that. The revenue shortfalls through out communities is a staggering figure. These are human issues. This is about people.
Research Vessel Bigelow is, A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. The term derives from the story that the kings of Siam (now Thailand) were accustomed to make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc., considered to be without use or value.