GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Glosta Daily

June 3, 2014

My red herring

Sometimes we don't get things completely right and that's a bit unnerving on this end because our job is to get things completely right. But sometimes we don't.

Case in point: Last week I wrote a story about NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service imposing severe restrictions in a portion of the Gulf of Maine offshore herring fishery _ and area called 1B _ because 92 percent of the total allowable catch for this area already had been caught. You can see the story by clicking here.

I mentioned the restrictions. I mentioned the most recent NOAA stats on cumulative catch. I even included a description of the geographic size of the Atlantic herring fishery. I talked to NOAA and got a quote. I alluded to it being yet another piece of bad news for Northeast commercial fishermen.

All good, that. All accurate, that.

But here's where I dropped the rock (and thanks to public affairs officer Pat Fiorelli and herring plan coordinator Lori Steele from the New England Fishery Management Council for pointing this out, and nicely, I might add, without once applying the term "incompetent bonehead"):

I failed to provide the proper perspective, which usually means I failed to ask the right question, which is exactly what happened here. I failed to ask what percentage of the fishery's total catch comes out of Area 1B. Seems like a natural question, doesn't it.

It is and I'm a dope for not asking it.

So, here's the skinny: Area 1B, with a quota of 3,000 metric tons, accounts for only 2.8 percent of the total herring quota of 107,000 metric tons.

That was a wee nugget of info that would have found a nice, warm comfy spot in the bosom of the story. It's absence, as Steele correctly pointed out, made our story a bit over-dramatic. So, I failed in my job for not providing the details and the subsequent perspective they proffered.

So, that is my red herring. Red for embarrassment.

This, that and the other . . . 

We tend to get immersed in the groundfish disaster here in our little paradise, but the reality is that the crisis exists in one form or another, whether it's declining stocks, overfishing, suffocating quotas et al, all over the world.

Consider this: According to Undercurrent News, a U.K.-based fishing industry periodical, the Spanish blue fin tuna fishing fleet caught its entire quota of 2,540 tons in less than 48 hours _ this despite fishermen claiming that they saw "swarms of tuna crossing the Mediterranean."

That, according to the story (click here), has rekindled the always-lurking friction between commercial fishing interests and environmentalists, as well as re-igniting Spain's insistence that its blue fin tuna quotas, which were slashed by more than 50 percent by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in a 2010 management plan, be increased.

"Environmental organizations must acknowledge now that stock levels are extremely healthy," said Juan Serrano, general director of Balfego, a Catalonia-based company that is one of Europe's largest blue fin tuna fishers. "It is true that six years ago there was overexploitation, but not that blue fin tuna was approaching extinction."

Suck the head, indeed

If you love crawfish, the mini-me of lobsters, and don't plan on heading down to the bayou any time soon, perhaps you'll want to check out Crawfish for Cancer's Boston Crawfish Boil from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday on Pier 4 of the Charlestown Navy Yard.

The menu calls for unlimited crawfish (no quotas!), corn, potatoes and an open bar (really no quotas!!) with beers from Sam Adams, wine and assorted Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka cocktails, with proceeds to benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Tickets are $80 in advance and $100 at the event. Check out online ticket info here.

Dial-a-fish

Remember Sea Hunt? No? Well, your loss. Sea Hunt was a great television show that ran from 1958 to 1961 starring Lloyd Bridges, before he became one of the famous crepe-making Mendelbaums and Jerry Seinfeld's personal trainer.

I thought of that show when I saw a release today from the state's Department of Fish and Game trumpeting its MassFishHunt licensing system that now allows anglers to use their smart phones to purchase and display recreational saltwater fishing permits, freshwater fishing licenses and trapping licenses.

A new electronic signature allows applicants to download freshwater fishing and trapping licenses and saltwater fishing permits to their mobile devices without having to print and sign documents as long as they have valid email addresses to receive confirmation messages, with licenses and receipts attached) from MassFishHunt.

Hunting and sporting licenses are not yet available for purchase with mobile devices, but are expected to be later in the year.

Last Song Out the Door: Ian Matthews 'Brown Eyed Girl" off his 1976 album "Go For Broke" 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT and check out his blog, Glosta Daily, on gloucestertimes.com

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