From: nilsstolpe at RR
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 2:17 AM
Subject: [Fishfolk] "Industrial" fishing?

Is there any consensus on what constitutes "industrial" fishing, and is the world of commercial fishing divided only into "industrial" and "artisanal" fishermen, with the "artisinal" fishermen being by definition "non-industrial?"

In those parts of the world I'm most familiar with - East Coast U.S. - I guess the closest we come to artisanal fishermen are baymen/watermen, who are disappearing at an alarming rate, which seems to be as much a function of coastal overdevelopment as anything else. But the average owner operated vessel that I'm familiar with, whether 30 feet or 80 feet long, doesn't feel like it's "industrial." In fact, many of those owner operators are much like the baymen/watermen, except that their boats are bigger, their expenses are greater and they fish farther offshore.

From: Charles Menzies
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 2:29 AM

The French have a legal definition of artisanal fishing that combines form of ownership (typically family-based small firm) and vessel size (under 24 meters). While few fishing people in BC (where I am from) would, for example call themselves artisanal, most who own their own boats would fit under that label. Again, for the french, industrial is a legally defined category that relates to the structure of ownership and vessel size.

We have just completed a video about a community of family-based fishermen in France (Le Guilvinec) which is in english and in french. It will be available for viewing shortly.

From: James Kirkley
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 2:42 AM

Nils: You raise an excellent question and one for which I have no answer. Your question is similar to the question of large vs. small boat fleet; what is large and what is small depends upon the reference. In the Gulf of Mexico inshore fishery, is 50 feet large or small; many individuals view it as large. In the New England offshore trawl fishery, 50 feet is definitely not large and probably does not belong very far offshore. Normally, many of us think of industrial as a fishery for which product is harvested not directly for human consumption. Other individuals, however, think of industrial to include the large offshore purse seine operations on tuna and other fisheries, which are harvested for human consumption. Oddly, i would not consider the west coast pollock fishery to be an industrial fishery, even when Tyson was heavily involved. Other folks, however, do view it as an industrial fishery. Maybe it is time for a name change?

From: Menakhem Ben-Yami
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 2:41 AM

...//...Is there any consensus on what constitutes "industrial" fishing, and is the world of commercial fishing divided only into "industrial" and "artisanal" fishermen, with the "artisinal" fishermen being by definition "non-industrial?"...//...

Normally accepted technological classification:

  • Small-scale (incl. artisanal) go fishing in boats up to 40-60 ft, depending on capacity; fishing inshore and in neighbouring coastal waters;
  • Medium-scale - larger than the above, up to 120-150 ft and fishing in coastal waters;
  • Large-scale (incl. industrial that fish for reduction) larger, ocean-going.

Social classification:

  • Privately/skipper/family/small partnership/small coop - owned operations =
  • Big business (incl. family owned large companies), $ corporate ownership = large sc./industrial
From: John Rice
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:11 AM

nilsstolpe at RR wrote:

In those parts of the world I'm most familiar with - East Coast U.S. - I guess the closest we come to artisanal fishermen are baymen/watermen, who are disappearing at an alarming rate, which seems to be as much a function of coastal overdevelopment as anything else.

Nils, All-

I take issue with this statement, especially in the context.

Baymen, as you put it, are also disappearing from the ill effects of the very industry you claim them to not be a party to.

Fishermen are suffering from, fishermen., or really from the privatization of fisheries rights, which has slowly but surely become the private property of fewer and fewer **FISHERMEN**. The whole thing, from a clam digging part time weekend guy all the way to Tyson and Omega are all one industry, period. Our interest's in making policy that preserves any semblance of what fishing was here in America even ten years ago is tremendously shadowed by the fact that it is the industry itself that refuses to actually change, to actually fish in ways that are truly"sustainable".

I don't wanna hear any more yada yada yada about how who is and who isn't the "industry", we are all the industry.

Remember the word greed.......

From: John Rice
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:17 AM

I should have added that the recreational fishery is an industry within the industry as well......

From: JD O'Malley
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 4:11 AM

Maybe the word "industrial" should include some consideration of the amount of capital needed to construct the vessel. Is it within the reach of the individual?

Of course, it's all relative. The 120-footer looks at the entry of the 250' vessel and runs to his Senator to get a size limit of 249 feet, or better yet, 121 feet. This is pretty much what happened in herring.

Or, it comes down to this: A boat that is a foot smaller than mine is a goddam bathtub, and you don't need to listen to anything that fellow says. A boat that's a foot bigger than mine is a monster and shouldn't be on the ocean.

From: nilsstolpe at RR
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 7:15 AM


You wrote I claim baymen to not be a party to commercial fishing. I didn't claim - or I didn't mean to claim - anything like that. They are, and should be, as much a part of commercial fishing as anyone else, and I hope I've never written anything that would make anyone think otherwise.

From what I've seen and read, and from his comments I think Jim Kirkley has observed the same thing, their unfortunate disappearance is due as much to the "yuppification" of coastal areas as to any other factor - but that's certainly not the only factor. Resource problems and management problems (which are far too often distinct from one another) and politics and ecoonomics also play a large role.

From: John Rice
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 8:40 AM

Now I don't want to sound too contentious (slim chance eh?). But....I offer another view-

I see the downfall of the workaday type comm'l fisherman as being greatly due to influences within the industry and from outside the industry to rationalize the fisheries. Look at the crab fishery in Alaska, look at the entire federal management system from Hatteras to Mexico, how'd that happen?

Less fishermen oughta mean less fisheries managers, but with less and less folks employed directly as fishermen, we have a management system that has a budget of some small nations. Why?

I hear so much from industry voices- save our fisheries save our fisheries- save the for whom? From whom?

These questions are screaming at the top of their lungs for anwers. answers that no one seems to want to offer up, instead always more empty talk, less fishermen.

Most "yuppies" I speak with in length about fisheries feel that our fisheries would better affected by small scale hand gear fisheries that have little or no by-catch or associated discard mortality and they usually seem to think that "fisheries management" is an enormous joke. It's the elitist's- the wealthy- who actually seem to get off on getting rid of the little guys. We're an antiquated eyesore to them.

Much like the windmills that my local billionaires berate, mine is one profession they'd just rather not look at.......

From: nilsstolpe at RR
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 8:58 AM

"Influences within the industry?"

Not in the fisheries I'm most familiar with, though in some there are occasional and isolated voices for ITQs (as well as for sectors). But nothing like a majority and certainly not overwhelming pressure. I have to stress that has nothing to do with pressure from the manages or the "conservationists." That's a whole other ball park.

Not too surprisingly, some guys - who would without a doubt qualify as artisanal under Menakhem's definition and are definitely not industrial - in some fisheries would accept ITQs, but only because they've been so worn down by the existing management system that they think it might end the endless hassling that they now have to endure. A possible, long-term goal of some management/conservationist cabal? I haven't a clue.

But, as you and Jim correctly point out, the baymen/watermen are exceedingly valuable - far more valuable than their econimic contributions - and if we loose them, we all loose. And I don't know of any fisherman, or anyone in the fishing industry, who doesn't agree with that.

From: Dean Bavington
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 9:13 AM

I second John's comments on this one. We need to understand small as well as large scale interactions and dynamics.

Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:41 PM

It is a bit interesting! Discussions about fishermen, large vs. small scale, industrial vs. non-industrial appear to be like clothing styles--they are recycled every few years or so. And no, I am not making light of the situation. My first introduction to this issue was in 1977 as a new employee of NMFS. A conference on this exact topic was held in Woods Hold and hosted by NMFS. I can't remember all the participants, but an anthropologist from Louisiana stated that what was small scale in NE was large scale in his area.

It is an interesting topic with some connotations. I remain more concerned, however, about what is happening in fisheries. Young folks are not entering! Vessels are regulated to "heck" and back. We talk about privatization as though it is the magic bullet for all fisheries--it is not! We have resource and economic problems--just like Nils and others have pointed out! Then we have global climate change and ecosystem issues. We also cannot forget the various user group conflicts! And the list of issues goes on!

IN this area, we have an emerging problem of labor shortages for shucking and crab picking facilities. So that even if the local watermen can supply the product, the shucking and crab picking facilities cannot process the product without H2-B workers. Also, we do not have a lot of high-value fisheries left in this region (Bay-based and not the sea scallop fishery). Our oyster population is way down and our crabs appear to be in a state of serious decline. These are both relatively high value fisheries, and both suffer from depressed resource levels, foreign competition, and increasing production costs.