Josh Wiersma

Sector Manager, New Hampshire Groundfish Sectors

I guess the biggest part of my job is to manage the annual catch and titlement that our sector had been granted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. And what that is is the rights to catch a certain amount of groundfish, based on the fishing history of our sector members, you know what they are able to bring into the sector based on their fishing history and aggregate, is what our sector has to catch as a group of fishermen. But often that amount that they bring in doesn't necessarily meet the amount of fish they would like to catch for the entire year and so if that's the case then what I'll do is I'll go and try to make a trade for more ace, more quota, or try to buy it from another sector, try to lease it for that year. And so that is an important part of the job, because one of the rules of sectors is that if we exceed the allocation of one any one stock, and there are 14 total stocks that we have been allocated, then we are required to stop fishing until we are able to get enough more ace to bring us back into a positive level of allocation. But what I would like to see is for fishermen to get to the level of certainty in understanding what they have to catch so that they can take advantage of some of the flexibilities that have been afforded through sectors. These flexibilities range from being able to be much more independent in when and where they fish, the ability to share their fish and revenue and costs with other sector members. I have been able to work with a few different institutions on different research projects that involved my sector members. One of those projects was a true collaborative research project that was initiated and I believe through the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, through this Gear Net project, and working with GMRI and some researchers from the University of New Hampshire extension. Last year we developed two different research projects that were intended to modify gill nets to be more selective at catching fish and also to improve the efficiency of trawlers when they catch fish. And preliminary results of both of those projects have been really positive. It is very important that we are able to be both selective and more efficient when we catch fish as a sector and as a fisherman.  My personal relationship with the people who work at GMRI, you know I think that has been extremely important because I feel like we can discuss issues not necessarily just as colleagues but as friends and understanding what's important to the industry. I think has really helped shape some of the research objectives of the people who run and participate in the research at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.