Anthony Lucia stands on a wide, red fishing boat in Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich, a video monitor and a tangle of wires behind him, the sound of a drill in the background.
In his hand is a bright white board with perfectly spaced black marks, interspersed with red lines, which will measure fish from nose to tail down to the centimeter.
“I just made this last night,” he says.
Lucia had driven down that morning from Portland, Maine to install four cameras on a fishing boat recently signed up for an electronic monitoring program run by the Fishermen’s Alliance.
Lucia, from New England Marine Monitoring, and Matt Roux, with TEEM Fish, do several installs a year. The long white board is used to measure fish that come aboard to see if they are legal size or need to be “discarded.”
At its core, using cameras to document what is happening on a fishing vessel is a tool to get specific types of data. To paraphrase Half Moon Bay fisherman and Pacific Council member Bob Dooley, electric monitoring data provides certainty, a better understanding of what comes out of the water. That certainty is key to accurate fishery science. That accuracy is what allows for full quota allocations, abundant stocks, and little to no need for uncertainty buffers.
But there is often disagreement about how to get that accurate data.
How much precision is necessary? Does it matter if we’re estimating weights from half full totes or do we need to measure every single fish? What exact data do we need to collect? Is it enough to just have cameras running to change fishermen’s behavior and prevent illegal, unreported discarding? Do we also have to watch all that video? What about all the extra data we could be collecting for science?
EM projects have been testing what EM can do, which encourages innovation but also creates “mission creep.”
Your cell phone is a perfect example of mission creep.
The year 1916 went down as one of the greatest in the fishing history of Massachusetts.
Here’s Dr. David L. Belding’s description, author of the 51
st annual report of the Massachusetts Commissioners on Fisheries and Game (meaning the first report was written in 1865, as the Civil War ended):
“Prosperity ruled the waves for the salt-water fishermen of Massachusetts in 1916. Even the most grizzled ‘old timer’ who is wont to lounge about the wharves and ‘gloom’ each bright, present-day fishing success story with ‘That reminds me,’ and ‘Nuthin like in ’78 when I,’ etc., was forced to admit, ‘I never see nothing like it, no, sir.’
For amount of fish landed in comparison with tonnage engaged, as well as for the enormous stocks and shares made by vessels, crews and fish-curing and shipping concerns generally 1916 will long be known as ‘the record year,’ unless old ocean should decide in this, or some other year to come, to just dump all at once her whole Klondike wealth of finny, swimming treasure on the decks of the fishing fleet.”
The fog is a chest, a magical chest! What wonders are hidden in it, the only way to see them is to dive into the fog!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
Chatham is known for fog and commercial fishing and in this photo gallery we celebrate both. The photos are a blend of old and new and accompanied by a well-known, or obscure, fog quote. There is something about the fog that draws us in and we hope it does for you as well.
Calendars can be arbitrary, highlighting particular dates for no obvious reason -- why is Groundhog Day always February 2? Why was Presidents’ Day February 17 when no president was born that day, the closest being Washington’s birthday February 22, or Lincoln’s February 12?
But regardless, calendars have a way of focusing the mind. And at best their dates give us a moment to stop, consider the big circle that is a year, take stock of where we are and where we’ve been.
We'll do that at our annual meeting on Thursday, March 26, 5 pm, at the Alliance’s home in Chatham.
These annual meetings usually cover a fair amount of ground. We report on the year just concluded, everything from financial performance to policy achievements, challenges and successes. I’ll give my small equivalent of a State of the Union for the Alliance, reporting to the board of directors and the community at large.
Other staff members will join in, and of course the board will offer both feedback and direction. We’ll open it up for questions and comments from whomever might like to offer perspectives, whether that be congratulating us, informing us, or taking us to task.
We also invite someone we think the community would like to hear, always with a unique perspective on the fisheries and the work we try to accomplish.
This year I’m very pleased to report that our keynote speaker is Dan McKiernan, presently acting director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
Dan has been in the trenches of fisheries management (maybe “in the trough” is a better nautical term) for a long time now. He has worked through pretty much every issue that has come up in state waters for decades. He has gone to more fisheries management meetings than anyone I know – even me! – and probably has sat on more hotseats, faced more tough questions, tried to explain more marine-related policies, than anyone in Massachusetts. He is now running an agency he knows from bottom to top. He also understands the Cape fishing community and the broader Massachusetts community, which do not always see things the same way. He makes the regular drive to Boston from his home in Sandwich, so he also understands and lives with the rugged commute many of us try to avoid.
I’d welcome Dan talking about most anything and everything he’d like to at our annual meeting, but a topic top on our minds will be a major port study he’s been working on in partnership with us and UMass Boston’s Urban Harbors Institute.
At his strong suggestion, we’ve been pulling together a report that profiles commercial fishing activity in every town in Massachusetts (that has it), gathering information from harbormasters and fishermen, landings data and insights from people who use ports up and down the coast.
The final rundown should be ready soon after the weather warms up and our hope is that it offers all kinds of great information, a better appreciation of how important waterfront access and infrastructure can be to our economy, and ways we can improve our facilities.
I’m looking forward to hearing from Dan but even more importantly getting us together to catch up, look ahead, and turn the arbitrary calendar on another year for the Fishermen’s Alliance.
Run for Fish and Fishermen! We are looking for 15 runners to join the #fishrunfalmouth team for the 2020 New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Sunday, August 16. We will help you train for the iconic 7-mile race and reach the $1,500 goal. We are also thrilled to have Lizzie Lane back on our team for the third year! Lizzie says she is excited to run again because it makes her feel more connected to the Cape, in addition to the thanks she has received from fishermen and others who are passionate about the Fishermen’s Alliance mission. “It makes me feel great!” she said. Contact our volunteer race team manager, Caroline or Brigid for more info!
Special thanks to our growing list of 2020 Sponsors: Balise Ford of Hyannis, Canyon View Capital, Cape Cod Life Publications, Chatham Bars Inn, The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, evolutioneyes, inc., Gibson Sotheby's International Realty, Hog Island Beer Co., Marder Seafood, Nauset Disposal, Nauset Marine, New England Sales Solutions, Quahog Republic, The Red Nun, Sara Campbell, TD Bank and UBS Financial Services. If you would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please reach out.
We invite industry and community members to join us for our annual meeting on Thursday, March 26 starting at 5 p.m. at the Fishermen's Alliance. We are excited to announce our keynote speaker, Dan McKiernan, acting director of Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Among Dan’s topics will be an overview of a soon-to-be-released port study. Enjoy appetizers from
Chatham Bars Inn and locally crafted beer from
Hog Island Brewery. Please RSVP as space is limited!
REGISTER ONLINE HERE or
We are partnering with Cape Cod Healthcare and hosting a Blood Drive. The bloodmobile will be on site from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, April 6. Every pint of blood donated stays on Cape Cod.
On the Water
Ever wonder how a boat, or a fish, got its name? Want the word on what people are catching --- or how to cook it?
We got a call the other day from a man with impressive academic credentials and experience who wants to leave that world and start anew – on the water. Another has already worked on the back of a commercial fishing vessel, but wants to expand his skillset. They, and others, will be part of the inaugural class of our crew training program, shoving off next month. There has been a lot of interest in the free program and we plan to hold more than one session. If you are interested jumping in for March, or want to put your name on the list for later in the year, reach out to
On the Shore
This community thrives in large part because of a constellation of non-profit organizations and engaged businesses.
As part of Pleasant Bay Community Boating’s Coastal Ecosystem Speaker series, Seth Rolbein, director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, will be giving a talk entitled, “More than a yellow slicker; what it takes to be a commercial fisherman.” The premise: Local fishermen are a far cry from simplistic stereotypes, they are savvy, sophisticated entrepreneurs navigating not just our waters but the worlds of regulation, market pressures, and climate change. The event will be on Friday, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the non-profit’s Science Education Center on Route 28 where Orleans and Chatham meet.
A group of students from Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts called us because they want to make fishermen’s lives easier with engineering creativity. Fishermen can reach out to them here with ideas on useful gadgets, technology or other items they can engineer.
With help from a grant from Cape Cod Hospital we have reached out to assisted living residences and others who serve meals to seniors in the hope that we can introduce more local fish into their operations. Once the surveys are in we will map out next steps, which we will share with you. We wanted to thank our friends at Broad Reach Health Care, owners and operators of The Victorian and Liberty Commons, for their support and interest so far. Reach out to Doreen for more information.
On the Hook
We do a lot of reading, searching through the wide world of fisheries, and often find intriguing pieces to share. In the old days, you might call this your clipping service.
Fishermen depend on ocean currents, and the area off our coast is particularly rich in resources because it is where currents come together. The following story is worrisome for that reason alone.
This story in the Boston Globe on the Boston waterfront is a bit gloomy, but it is also a story of rebirth and the possibilities of a successful working waterfront when heritage is valued by people and government. And Provincetown scallops help start the
Many worried about consolidation the fishing industry are concerned about Blue Harvest purchasing 15 vessels and their associated permits, previously owned by the now jailed “Codfather” Carlos Rafael. Blue Harvest’s CEO argues in this
piece that their presence will be a good thing because they will build markets for abundant fish such as haddock, and independent fishermen will benefit. We still think the permits should have gone to fishermen and fishing communities up and down the coast who were hurt by Rafael.