An Unacceptable Solution – Ropless fishing gear is dangerous to fishermen

Oct 14, 2018

We spend a crazy amount of time looking for information on the internet that we think is of interest to the general public at large that read about the fishing industry, and is hopefully interesting to the thousands of fishermen that visit the website regarding the issues of the day. It is a running snapshot of the industry posted daily, and has been continuously for over seven years.

When we do start our day, we don’t know which direction we will be taken, but we go wherever we need to go.

Its not always exciting, and can be quite mundane at times.

One story we’ve followed extensively is the right whale entanglement issue which has the potential to derail a sustainable fishery, the lobster fishery in New England and Canada.

There is such irony at times, such as the articles trumpeting climate change as a cause for decline, and shifting populations caused by rising ocean temperatures, usually accompanied by the subline, warming faster than anywhere on the planet, as far as the storied Gulf of Maine is concerned.

There are a lot of special interests that support themselves on this talking point, and they capitalize on that for funding and grant funding. We all have to make a living, right?

One of the benefits of doing this, and sharing these stories on social media is making friends and reading the commentary of fishermen on the various subjects of interest.

The media has been especially busy writing stories about the troubled Right Whale population, and the large hit the whales took in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence last year, NOAA declaring it an  declared the die-off an “unusual mortality event,” or UME. This declaration demands a significant response.

There were plenty of those, from third party lawsuits to US Senators threatening action against Canada, which triggered the reaction of Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

New measures coming to protect right whales in Gulf of St. Lawrence: LeBlanc  August 12, 2017 – which led to rolling closures as whales were spotted from the air.

As an outside observer I was skeptical.

It is hard to ignore the success that there were no entanglement deaths this past year, and fishermen were cooperative to avoid another fiasco. It was a success.

As with another successful avoidance program in another fishery that was looking at closure when they hit their by catch limit, the NE Scallop fishery working with SMAST, and cooperating with each other, the solution was successful also.

One would think this would be the way forward for the lobster fishery, and other fixed gear fishery’s within the range of the Atlantic Right Whale, but, like so many other issues, its never enough, as the entrenched bureaucrats state that the only solution is ropeless fishing.

The various discussions about Rope less fishing preferred by regulators and possibly every whale group, the commentary can be quite colorful! It can be downright crude, actually, and why would anyone expect it to not be?We have working people being attacked and sometimes vilified by the talking heads of regulators, and Aquarium people thinking they have all the answers, expecting others that are affected to roll over and do what they’re told.

During discussion a fisherman brought up entanglement, it the comment wasn’t about the whales.

It was about fishermen being entangled in fishing gear being set.

We know this to be a reality of the job. Fishermen do get fouled in fishing gear, and are helplessly swept into the water during fishing operations, and rarely is there a positive outcome for them. Many die.

For the fortunate, the only reason they would be saved would be a determined skipper and crew that would retrieve the buoy line, and feverishly haul back the gear, hopefully with the unfortunate fisherman having a spark of life left in him to restart him through super human effort and shear luck.

Rope less fishing gear eliminates that last chance.

I find that absolutely unacceptable.