Posted July 2014

Atlantic Forage Fish Need Public Oversight of the Industrial Trawl Fleet

Scientists and fishermen agree that the industrial midwater trawl fleet is taking a toll on many species on the Atlantic Coast. The massive nets of these vessels kill millions of river herring and, increasingly, the juveniles of some commercially important groundfish such as haddock. Unfortunately, an important action to rein in this damage is facing a substantial delay. … More Info »

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 25

Gray Seals

In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, Chatham fishermen criticize plans for the distribution of federal disaster aid to Massachusetts fishermen; WBUR highlights Cape Cod fishermen struggling with the effects of depleted stocks; Massachusetts bans the possession of shark fins; Senator Begich releases a new version of his Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill; WGBH discusses the effects of climate change on fisheries; Senator Murkowski introduces legislation to block the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument; NEFMC executive director Tom Nies says Oceana’s bycatch report is misleading; growing gray seal populations cause controversy; local lobstermen oppose rules intended to reduce whale entanglements; the Portland Press Herald talks to a lobsterman who has been fishing for 77 years. … More Info »

Little Fish Reveal the Big Picture on Cod

Why did fishermen see a bounty while scientists in fact called it a bust? Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center say a change in the forage fish, or small prey species, the cod were eating offers an explanation. … More Info »

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 18

In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, the Boston Globe features Cashes Ledge; Maine grapples with its green crab problem; menhaden catch limits may mean higher bait prices; Massachusetts officials describe their plans to distribute federal fisheries disaster aid; the Maine Lobstermen’s Association may be released from a 1958 consent decree; Matt Jacobson is selected as the director of the Maine Lobster Marketing collaborative; Maine’s fishing stories are preserved through an oral history initiative; an abundance of jellyfish requires more research; Maine’s lobster season starts slowly due to a cold winter; Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations executive director Zeke Grader argues for a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act. … More Info »

Building on Success

In late fall of 2006, Congress came together to strengthen the primary law that governs our nation’s ocean fisheries—the Magnuson-Stevens Act, originally passed in 1976. A push from leaders on both sides of the aisle, combined with strong support from President George W. Bush, helped overcome political differences.Now the House Committee on Natural Resources has advanced a bill to reauthorize and amend the act. Unlike eight years ago, however, this measure lacks significant bipartisan support—and a number of its provisions would undermine key reforms that have proved instrumental in rebuilding depleted U.S. ocean fish populations. … More Info »

Habitat Protection Works for Now and for the Future

With the opportunity to extend and improve ocean habitat protections in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment (OHA), the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) should not bury its analysis in the practices and politics of the past, but look towards the very real needs of the present and future. But rather than moving deliberately to improve protection of Essential Fish Habitat and exercising precaution to protect large areas like other fishery management councils are doing, the NEFMC and even NMFS appear poised to promote a final Omnibus Habitat Amendment that will drastically reduce the extent of protected areas and allow trawling and other commercial fishing gear in areas that have served as refuge for innumerable species for nearly twenty years. … More Info »

The Beer-Reviewed Stock Assessment: A Fisheries Phenomenon

We’ve all heard about peer-reviewed stock assessments. That’s what you get when a team of biologists assesses the health of one stock of fish, and another panel of expert scientists, unrelated to the first, reviews that team’s work and determines whether it is good enough to use for fisheries management purposes. If it is, it represents a sort of “gold standard” for fisheries managers, who can then establish regulations based on the assessment, and be reasonably certain that they’re doing the right thing. However, if you go down to the docks, pick up a press release put out by one of the anglers’ rights groups or read some of the comments on Internet chat boards, you’ll find that a lot of people don’t give the peer-reviewed assessments, or the scientists who provide them, much weight. … More Info »

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 11

In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, Governor Patrick announces a series of meetings to discuss the allocation of $8.2 million in federal disaster aid; Cape oyster farmers are angered by a letter from the District Attorney in defense of a fish seller who sold stolen oysters; USFWS and NOAA designate critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles; scalloped hammerhead sharks are added to the endangered species list; research suggests whales play a large role in buffering marine ecosystems against environmental stresses; oyster farms thrive in Maine and Rhode Island; the Western Pacific Council opposes President Obama’s expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine Sanctuary; a California town emulates Cape Cod in creating a community quota fund; the federal government investigates a set-aside program in New York; NOAA awards grants to SMAST for scallop research. … More Info »

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 4

In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, NOAA revises carryover rules to comply with a court ruling; the ASMFC discusses elver regulations; dam removals on the Kennebec River have helped river herring populations recover; the Nemasket River herring run declines; dead menhaden found floating off Virginia may be linked to an Omega Protein vessel; an editorial calls byatch “a frightening waste of fish”; Maine lobstermen are unhappy about new rules to reduce whale entanglements; Massachusetts lifts red tide shellfish closures; oyster reef restoration in the Great Bay estuary is making good progress; an editorial highlights the threat of ocean acidification and calls for local responses; a letter to the editor argues a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act can strengthen local seafood markets; climate change alters the marine life of Long Island Sound. … More Info »

Now Here’s an Idea We Can All Get Behind

For a law that determines so much of the health of the ocean and the ocean economy and serves as the de facto management framework for our nation’s ocean wildlife, the bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) received fairly brief treatment before being passed from the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee in late May. However, during the markup of the bill there was a rare bright spot. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) offered an amendment that would require that every fishery management plan and every rebuilding plan for overfished stocks be required to have a probability of success that at least has a 75% chance of success. What’s not to like about that? … More Info »