Tyler Silvy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The rush to renew a North Coast New Year’s tradition — feasting on freshly caught Dungeness crab — may help ease the pinch of a late start to the season for fishermen and retailers, but mediocre early returns have so far added a little lemon juice to the cut endured this year by the fleet.
“I won’t say it’s poor,” said Bodega Bay fisherman Dick Ogg, before offering a laugh. “I’ll say it’s less than good. It’s not exactly what we had expected. Our original anticipation was that there were a fair quantity of crabs in the area. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”
The prediction of a mountain of Dungeness crab lying in wait at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean prompted a number of fishing boats from outside the area to descend this month on Bodega Bay.
They had time, as the season was delayed a month until Dec. 15 to allow endangered humpback whales time to clear the area and head south to their winter home off the coast of Mexico.
Ogg, the vice president of Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association, said the added pressure didn’t help matters, but it ultimately comes down to this: There just aren’t as many crabs as predicted. And at this point, Ogg said, “the majority have been caught.”
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/10528717-181/north-coast-tradition-renewed-as
Associated Press, THE GUARDIAN
A rare environmental success story is unfolding in waters off the US west coast.
After years of fear and uncertainty, bottom trawler fishermen – those who use nets to catch rockfish, bocaccio, sole, Pacific Ocean perch and other deep-dwelling fish – are making a comeback here, reinventing themselves as a sustainable industry less than two decades after authorities closed huge stretches of the Pacific Ocean because of the species’ depletion.
The ban devastated fishermen, but on 1 January, regulators will reopen an area roughly three times the size of Rhode Island off Oregon and California to groundfish bottom trawling – all with the approval of environmental groups that were once the industry’s biggest foes.
The rapid turnaround features collaboration between the fishermen and environmentalists who spent years refining a long-term fishing plan that will continue to resuscitate the groundfish industry while permanently protecting thousands of square miles of reefs and coral beds that benefit the overfished species.
Now, the fishermen who see their livelihood returning must solve another piece of the puzzle: drumming up consumer demand for fish that haven’t been in grocery stores or on menus for a generation.
“It’s really a conservation home run,” said Shems Jud, regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s ocean program. “The recovery is decades ahead of schedule. It’s the biggest environmental story that no one knows about.”
Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/26/fishing-groundfish-trawlers-oregon-california-environment
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
North Coast fishing crews idled by an early end to the Dungeness crab season will have a longer 2019 salmon season than in recent years after fishery managers finalized dates Tuesday, a reflection of this year’s healthier projected adult spawning run.
In fact, this generation of returning adult king salmon is thought to be the most abundant since 2014, allowing for a season opener beginning May 16 and stretching to at least late September in coastal waters between Point Arena on the southern Mendocino Coast and Pigeon Point on the coast of San Mateo County.
That 122-day span is nearly twice the 73 days provided to commercial boats in 2018 — a reflection, experts say, of abundant rainfall when this year’s adult spawners were juveniles two years ago, making their way down freshwater streams to the Pacific Ocean.
The brighter forecast comes amid generally declining conditions across ocean fisheries and continued restrictions needed to rebuild West Coast salmon stocks, twin blows that have landed hard on California’s struggling commercial fishing fleet.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9505574-181/best-salmon-return-since-2014
Andrew Jacobs, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Once upon a time, the seas teemed with mackerel, squid and sardines, and life was good. But now, on opposite sides of the globe, sun-creased fishermen lament as they reel in their nearly empty nets.
“Your net would be so full of fish, you could barely heave it onto the boat,” said Mamadou So, 52, a fisherman in Senegal, gesturing to the meager assortment of tiny fish flapping in his wooden canoe.
A world away in eastern China, Zhu Delong, 75, also shook his head as his net dredged up a disappointing array of pinkie-size shrimp and fledgling yellow croakers. “When I was a kid, you could cast a line out your back door and hook huge yellow croakers,” he said. “Now the sea is empty.”
Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. From Russian king crab fishermen in the west Bering Sea to Mexican ships that poach red snapper off the coast of Florida, unsustainable fishing practices threaten the well-being of millions of people in the developing world who depend on the sea for income and food, experts say.
But China, with its enormous population, growing wealth to buy seafood and the world’s largest fleet of deep-sea fishing vessels, is having an outsize impact on the globe’s oceans.
Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries, their journeys often subsidized by a government more concerned with domestic unemployment and food security than the health of the world’s oceans and the countries that depend on them.
Read more at: China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink – The New York Times