Short post this week with some recent comments from fishermen. At the Spatial Sales Conference I wrote about last week, the last panel was a group of four fishermen and one sector manager. They were asked about their observations on the water and how they reconcile with some of the emerging scientific consensus that was the focus of the conference.
One fisherman when asked if his experiences on the water match what the scientists are finding out responded by saying he always thought of fish as flocks of birds moving underwater. Most of the other fishermen had similar analogies.
When it came time to talk about new management ideas one fishermen said to the room full of scientists, NGO staffers and NOAA/NMFS/NEFMC staff, "You all are the fishermen now. You are the ones with steady jobs, benefits."
He went on to say what a lot of fishermen have said in recent years, that there are more people employed in regulating, lobbying and managing fish than there are people catching fish. He concluded by saying, "Whether this science is right and the old science is wrong, or the new way is better at managing fish I don't know. I just hope you get it right, so the fishermen can get back to fishing."
All of the fishermen agreed that the numbers of fish "out there" in the Western Gulf of Maine was the largest they had seen in their fishing careers. They all said they no longer have to think to catch fish, they just go to whatever area is not closed drop their nets and pull them back full of fish.