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Posted on Oct 1, 2008 in Top Shots
A Longline Skipper's Imperfect Storm

I suspect a lot of SF-site visitors will find this of interest. A skipper who has to be the world's most famous longliner ended up in handcuffs on the wrong side of a Canadian judge over the weekend for allegedly breaking (into) and entering that country's waters. Canadian fisheries officials maintain that when a patrol plane spotted her, Greenlaw's boat, Sea Hawk, had gone where no U.S. fishing boat was supposed to be. After that, Greenlaw (made famous in The Perfect Storm and with her own best-selling books including The Hungry Ocean) was summarily treated to an appearance in a St. Johns, Newfoundland, courtroom. The skipper was released on $10,000 bail and is due back in court October 27.

I haven't been able to find any comment from Greenlaw; perhaps keeping her head down is a wise course of action at this point. But the incident hardly went unnoticed. For one thing, the entire incident (including her appearance in handcuffs) was filmed by an American NBC film crew aboard her boat to film an upcoming TV series. Also, the incident got plenty of attention in eastern Canada. While reports on the internet from U.S. news source got little or no reaction, our neighbors to the north seemed to be outraged that a U.S. boat would apparently attempt to flout Canada's exclusive economic zone. "Typical Americans - run roughshod over everyone else and flout the laws of another country," griped one comment, which seemed mild compared to many.

Not sure how most sport fishermen would feel about this celebrity's arrest. As a long-time commercial longliner who has publicly defended what many of us consider to be a particularly destructive, nonselective fishing gear, Greenlaw probably won't be the source of many tears from anglers.

And speaking of longlines and the damage they do, on another matter that could be some very welcome news indeed for Atlantic bluefin tuna, NMFS has recommended that the western stock's only spawning grounds - the Gulf of Mexico - be designated essential habitat for bluefin. That would improve the odds for long-overdue, critical protection from longlines that continue to operate in much of the Gulf. You can take action to let NMFS know you support this designation at www.savethefish.org/action_items_bluefin.htm.