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Sam Pfeifle

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Posts posted by Sam Pfeifle

  1. This is a pretty interesting piece in Real Clear Policy about who gets a say when the "fishing industry" speaks:


    They are using the powerful lobbying voice of “the fisherman” to push an agenda that’s neither good for the ocean nor for the long-term success of any species we fish. I’m a fisherwoman and a marine scientist, and I’m here to tell you that protecting at least 30 percent of our ocean is critical if we want to keep fishing into the future.

    As someone who covers the industry but doesn't work inside it, this piece says a lot to me about why fishing can sometimes seem inaccessible and hard to understand. No industry should be expected to speak with one voice on hugely important topics. 

  2. It's good to see Massachusetts and other government agencies investing some time and money in investigating new trap technology:



    The gear designs use submerged buoys, activated by time-release mechanisms or signals transmitted from the surface, to surface carrying a line to retrieve the traps.

    West Coast fishermen, gear designers and conservation groups have worked at testing ropeless gear for the Dungeness crab fishery, which is subject to shutdowns to lessen dangers of entanglements with migrating humpback whales.

    The Massachusetts study would bring that effort to East Coast lobster waters.


    But there's so much more to be done. Even if this tech worked wonders, it's not like everyone can just turn their gear over overnight. The government is going to have to both subsidize the development of the tech, subsidize the swap of old traps for new, and then subsidize the difference in price for a significant period of time. And that all assumes they work in a way that allows for lobstermen, et al, to harvest in the same way. It may be more labor and diesel intensive to find these things when they pop up - who knows? 

    But this is not a "build it and they will come" situation. 

  3. An interesting program down in North Carolina where the NC Coastal Federation is hiring fishermen to go out and collect old fishing equipment that's been left to rot. 



    Mr. Frost has been volunteering with the federation for about four years now for the NCCF’s Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project. The federation hires commercial fishermen each year to collect derelict crab pots and other gear from the sounds, where they otherwise would pose a threat to navigation and marine life.

    As Mr. Frost and his grandson tied up their boat at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission boat launch in Emerald Isle, a pile of crab pots stacked in the bow, Mr. Frost said they’d collected about 114 derelict pots that day.

    “It’s extra income during the winter months, and it’s good to keep our (water) resource clean, healthy and viable,” he said. “A lot of times you find it (derelict fishing gear) in the marsh. They’re a hazard, especially the one without buoys.”


    We'll just pretend that "volunteering" generally doesn't create "extra income," but that's probably the reporter, not Mr. Frost. 

    I guess the bigger question is: Who's paying fishermen to clean up after other fishermen? Is that like non-profit money-laundering?

  4. In general, we don't use the forum to just promote everything that National Fisherman is doing, but you really shouldn't miss the panel we've put together on the future of offshore wind. 

    In short, the wind industry isn't going away. With the Biden administration, you're going to see a huge burst of activity and these states have made renewable energy promises they're going to have to keep. New York along has committed to too much wind energy to just have this whole industry dry up and go home. 

    And the panelists they've put together know what they're talking about and are dialed in to what's actually happening. 

    It's Thursday at 3p Eastern. Sign up here

  5. Surely, it's not news to you, but stark to see NOAA come out with a report showing a 29% drop in fishing revenues January through July 2020, after a 3% increase in January/February. That's a ton of money not being put in people's pockets. 45% down in July alone:


    According to analysts, COVID-19 protective measures instituted in March across the United States and globe contributed to an almost-immediate impact on seafood sector sales. There was a strong start to the year, with a 3 percent increase in commercial fish landings revenue in January and February. However, revenues declined each month from a 19 percent decrease in March to a 45 percent decrease by July. This translates to a 29 percent decrease across those 7 months, as compared to 5-year averages and adjusted for inflation.

    Are things getting better at all? It seems doubtful given the current state of the pandemic in the U.S. 

  6. One of Donald Trump's last acts as president has been to sign the Young Fisherman's Development Act, which creates a $2m pot of money, taken from fines paid by fishermen, to create a grant program that will award up to $200k at a time to organizations working to get more kids into fishing.

    Read the text here.

    Of course, you also have to match 25% of the grant, but the list of organizations who are eligible is pretty large. Contact the National Sea Grant Office in the Department of Commerce to figure out how to apply. 

    Anyone got good ideas?

  7. This story about a lawsuit filed by commercial fishermen in Michigan isn't new, but I was really struck by that line I pulled out for the topic title. There's gotta be something wrong when literal "Fishtown" is fresh out of fishermen. 



    “Here in Leland, you can’t fish,” says Joel Petersen, the last state-licensed fisherman working out of Fishtown. “We’re done.”

    Michigan’s DNR director Dan Eichinger wrote the order late last year. It would prohibit fishing in water deeper than 80 feet. Petersen says they can’t catch fish at those depths except for a couple weeks in the spring. 

    The order would also close the whitefish season for October in Lake Michigan, a month that can be lucrative. 

    “That’s when we catch most fish,” says Robert Ruleau III, of Ruleau Bros. Inc., a seventh-generation fisherman in Menominee. 


    There's gotta be a movie in there somewhere, right? Starring Matt Damon or something?

  8. Surely, everyone in the east is aware that the government released proposed rules for whale protection on the eastern seaboard on New Year's Eve (how convenient!). If you're looking to see the proposed rules and weigh in on them, you can find them here

    Technically, the proposed rule would:


     amend the regulations implementing the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury to North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in northeast commercial lobster and crab trap/pot fisheries to meet the goals of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. In addition, this action also proposes a small revision to Federal regulations implemented under the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commissions' Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Lobster to increase the maximum length of a lobster trap trawl groundline. This action is necessary to reduce the risks to North Atlantic right whales and other large whales associated with the presence of fishing gear in waters used by these animals. 

    If you want to comment, go HERE and just write your comment or upload your files. It's pretty simple. The comments are open until March 1. If you want to leave your comment here as well, maybe we can all help fine-tune what you've got to say!

  9. Though it groups the charter industry and commercial fishermen, it looks like Washington is one step closer to distributing $50m to folks who have seen a revenue drop from last year (so, basically, everyone):



    Under the draft plan, industry members who experienced a gross revenue loss from January through July 2020 greater than 35 percent of their 2015-2019 average would be eligible to apply for federal relief funding. (Exceptions are available for industry members without a full five-year history). Applicants can choose smaller window periods within the timeframe so long as the period is at least 28 days. Washington-based commercial fishers who fish in Alaska are also eligible.

    Money earned from freshwater species and retail sales are excluded. Eligible commercial fishery participants must include all their revenues regardless of whether they landed the fish.



  10. This is pretty incredible. A new study out of Rutgers finds that 40% of commercial fishermen did not go out on the water this season. 




    With restaurants and supply chains disrupted due to the global coronavirus pandemic, two-fifths of commercial fishermen surveyed from Maine through North Carolina did not go fishing earlier this year, according to a Rutgers study that also documented their resilience and adaptation.

    Of those who kept fishing, nearly all reported a decline in income compared with previous years, according to the survey of 258 fishers in the Northeast published in the journal PLOS ONE.


    That's a pretty significant hit to the eastern fishing industry. 


  11. This is a big deal. 




    The proposed restrictions, which could be devastating for hundreds of fixed-gear fishermen from Buzzards Bay to Ipswich Bay, would prevent commercial lobstermen from setting their traps between February and May, and potentially longer if whales remain offshore. They would also require the state’s 800 lobstermen to use special rope that breaks more easily under pressure from whales, limit the state’s recreational lobster catch, and curtail the use of vertical mesh lines known as gillnets.

    State officials said the rules, which were proposed a few weeks after scientists estimated that there are only about 356 right whales remaining, are likely to take effect as soon as February, after a public comment period.



  12. Just came across this obituary for Ethan Ward of the Emmy Rose in the Sunday paper. So young, and such a classic Mainer. RIP, Ethan, and everyone on the crew. Just a very sad thing. 


    At a young age he set himself from others by always wanting to do things his way, which seemed to everyone the hard way. At approximately age 3 he managed to figure out how to unlock the house door lock, dead bolt and security chain and escape to an L L Bean concert, no shirt and bare foot. There was quite a team looking for him, police, fire rescue, family and friends. He was found by an off-duty policeman. He was dancing and having a grand time. This affinity for doing things his way having no fears from ditching his bike with training wheels at age 4 to getting on an adult bike and breaking his arm at daycare, then onto skateboarding, rollerblading, snowboarding, dirt biking, and four wheeling got him the name “Dare Devil.” He loved going to the mud parks. Hence, many trips to the hospital. He also enjoyed swimming in the family pool and pole fishing, rain or shine, with anyone who would go with him.


  13. We've got a piece this week on what folks are forecasting for Alaska Salmon in 2021, which is ... an inexact science, especially this year. Mark Palmer, president and CEO of OBI Seafoods, and Allen Kimball, vice president of global operations and sales for Trident Seafoods, spoke on a webcast hosted by United Fishermen of Alaska. 

    Both are cautiously optimistic:



    “We don't see entering the 2021 season with any real big carryovers. And that's always one of the downsides as we head into a new season, if there's an abundance of 2 to 4 (pound) sockeyes or something. We've gone into seasons like that, and it influences the new season pricing. But as we go into 2021, we should have a pretty clean slate and be ready to buy and ideally put it up in a better product form than we did this last year,” said Palmer.

    What are you seeing? 2021 can't possibly be as bad as 2020, can it?

  14. I'm sure many of you have been watching what's going on in Nova Scotia with the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq so much at odds. Well, today is the start of lobster season up there, and the clash has made the mainstream media



    The largely white Acadian commercial fishermen are upset that the Mi’kmaq have been fishing outside the commercial season and are concerned about the sustainability of the lobster fishery. They see themselves, their culture and distinct language, as having survived and prospered despite their own expulsion in Nova Scotia two and a half centuries ago. 

    The Mi’kmaq have been historically mistreated and marginalized by settlers, and endured a cultural genocide for which reparations have not been made despite promises from Justin Trudeau’s government. They want to earn a moderate livelihood on the water, a legally protected treaty right affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada more than two decades ago with the Donald Marshall Junior decision.


    Maybe the saddest part is that both populations have been historically oppressed and now, due to concerns about their livelihoods, they find themselves enemies, when they have so much in common. 

  15. Obviously, the online Expo will continue and we'll be offering more virtual programming, at least until it's safe to gather in numbers again. 

    How might we do it better?

    How can we integrate this forum better?

    Any feedback you have, please let us have it. I promise, there's no way to hurt our feelings! (But maybe don't, like, try to hurt our feelings...)

  16. On 11/19/2020 at 4:41 PM, BLY said:

    The last fish expo my family and I attended was back in 2018.  My girls loved everything about it and have since talked about wanting to go back.  I think loading up on all the chocolate, pens, hats and even new boots was the highlight of their trip that year.  A bonus was for our girls to see their Papa’s boat named after their daddy on one of the displays! 🙂 I hope we will be able to attend another expo in person in the near future!  I hope everyone stays safe, and I look forward to checking out the new cookbook from the Salmon Sisters! 🌊


    This is awesome!

  17. Scary news off the coast of Massachusetts for the Portland-based Emmy Rose:



    The 82-foot fishing vessel  sank about 20 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, according to the Coast Guard. The First District Coast Guard Command Center in Boston received a notification at 1 a.m. Monday from the Emmy Rose’s emergency position indicating radio beacon, which is automatically activated when a vessel sinks or capsizes.

    Coast Guard crews discovered debris and an empty life raft in the area of the vessel’s last known position. There are 30-knot winds and seas of 6 to 8 feet in the area Monday morning.



  18. 39 minutes ago, A.E.Duck said:

    I am incredibly grateful and proud that our community has been able to adapt to these times, and find a way to hold the expo in any form. The spread of information and opportunity in the ever evolving maritime industry is invaluable.

    The inability to come together in person is a blow in many ways. We will miss visiting with friends and colleagues to exchange stories of the season and remember times gone by. We will be unable to truly see and assess products on display that may greatly impact our capability and capacity. For a large number of the aging segment of our industry, who hold a wealth of wisdom and experience, the online forum seems too impractical and inaccessible to participate.

    What I will miss most is the camaraderie; the exchange of ideas and experiences; being with my family and friends. Also all those free pens. I love all the pens.

    Ha. Seriously. Am I going to have to buy a pen this year?!? What about a new squishy toy for my desk?

    • Like 2
  19. An online Expo is ... not the same. No one is feeling that more than Salmon Sisters. We all miss the connections we make every year in Seattle.  

    The Salmon Sisters don’t want you to go away empty-handed. Enter to win some epic show swag, including a pair of Salmon Sisters Xtratuf boots,  a salmon home pack, signed copies of their new book, and the new design of their Young Fishermen of America hoodie.

    Leave a comment telling us what you miss about Expo this year, and you'll be entered to win one of these prizes, courtesy of Salmon Sisters.

    • Like 1
  20. Hopefully, there are good news stories like this throughout the industry, but here's a great one out of Maine. The Maine Coast Fisherman's Association has begun a Fishermen Feeding Mainers program where some of the under-valued groundfish being caught can go directly to Mainers facing food insecurity, which is unfortunately rapidly increasing during the pandemic, both in the families of fishermen and in the families of Mainers at large. 

    Fishermen in Maine have seen the value of landed groundfish drop 73% during covid. Nearly 20 percent of all Mainers face food insecurity - meaning they're not sure where their next meal is coming from - right now. 

    So, the idea is that people donate to Fishermen Feeding Mainers, it compensates them for the fish they're catching, and then delivers that fresh fish to Mainers who would love a locally caught and healthy meal, via local processors who package and freeze the fish and then deliver local food banks and schools.

    It's food on the table, money going into the local economy, and keeping people safe, all in one fell swoop. Let me know about any other local programs that are developing in your area. 

  21. Looks like the inland Maine Coast area has new Herring limits, as of tomorrow:



    As of 00:01 local time on November 11, 2020, through December 31, 2020, no person may fish for, possess, transfer, receive, land, or sell more than 2,000 lb of herring per trip or calendar day in or from Management Area 1A from a vessel issued and holding a valid federal herring permit.  Vessels that have entered port before 00:01 local time on November 11, 2020, may land and sell more than 2,000 lb of herring from Management Area 1A from that trip. 

    This action prohibits federally permitted dealers from purchasing, possessing, receiving, selling, bartering, trading or transferring, more than 2,000 lb of herring per trip or calendar day from Management Area 1A through 24:00 hr local time, December 31, 2020, unless it is from a vessel that enters port before 00:01 local time on November 11, 2020.

     During this directed fishery closure, vessels may transit through Management Area 1A with more than 2,000 lb of herring on board, provided all herring onboard was caught outside Management Area 1A and all fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use. 



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