In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, April 4

The IPCC released a new report on climate change impacts and adaptation this week. Image: IPCC

The IPCC released a new report on climate change impacts and adaptation this week. Image: IPCC

  • This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Working Group II report titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. The report included a notable focus on the effects of climate change on marine environments, including chapters on both coastal and ocean systems. Impacts highlighted by the report include the redistribution of fish, changes in primary productivity, and further vulnerability due to ocean acidification. Report co-author Ove Hough-Goldberg noted in an interview that the ocean is absorbing more than 90 percent of the increased energy in the climate system, leading to a rapidly changing marine environment and shifts in species distributions towards higher latitudes. Meanwhile, National Geographic included North Atlantic cod on a list of seven species particularly threatened by climate change, noting that environmental changes may be hampering the recovery of cod stocks depleted by overfishing.
  • NOAA is seeking comments on the possible development of its own sustainable seafood certification program. NMFS Deputy Administrator Sam Rauch says NOAA is considering the option at the request of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), but has not decided whether or not it will proceed. MAFAC’s recommendations say a NOAA certification program should focus on a business-to-business certification that would be visible to buyers, but not necessarily to consumers, in an attempt to reduce the costs of the program. It would focus first on seafood caught in federal waters before expanding to include state fisheries and aquaculture. Comments should be submitted by April 20 to nmfspolicy@noaa.gov.
  • Maine’s Department of Marine Resources has warned the state’s lobster industry to prepare for a decline in lobster populations. Maine’s lobster landings reached a record high in 2012, but according to DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher’s comments at an industry meeting this week, the current good state of the resource means now is an ideal time to plan for an eventual drop-off. Keliher said he hopes the state can create its own lobster fishery management plan to complement the federal plan developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, allowing Maine to respond more quickly to drops in the lobster population. Lobsters are vulnerable to ocean warming, ocean acidification, and shell disease, and landings have already fallen off sharply in Southern New England and Long Island Sound. Keliher also said he hopes to address the issue of unused or underused lobster licenses, which complicate management models.
  • Dogfish are abundant in the Gulf of Maine and their numbers appear to be increasing, but fishermen can’t find a market for them, according to the Portland Press-Herald. There are an estimated 230,000 metric tons of spawning dogfish in the region, compared to just 10,000 metric tons of spawning cod. Fishermen currently receive only around 14 cents a pound for their dogfish catch, and there is nearly no domestic market for the small sharks. PCB contamination is also a concern, with some exports to Europe denied due to high levels of the chemical. The New England and Mid-Atlantic Councils are currently considering whether to eliminate the current 4000 pound trip limit for dogfish to try to make dogfish trips more profitable.
  • The alleged culprits in last summer’s Cape Cod oyster thefts have been indicted in Barnstable courts. Michael Bryant is facing charges related to the theft of over $40,000 of oysters and equipment from several oyster farms. Joseph Vaudo, owner of Joe’s Lobster Mart in Sandwich, has pleaded guilty to receiving the stolen oysters and misleading police.
  • Gloucester’s Large Pelagics Research Center will host a series of talks by local marine scientists on Thursday nights in April at Maritime Gloucester. Topics will range from bluefin tuna research to efforts to reduce vessel strikes on right whales to underwater acoustics.
  • NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory in Beaufort, NC may be targeted for closure under the proposed 2015 federal budget. The budget calls for the closure of one NOAA laboratory to save money; NOAA says the Beaufort lab’s aging infrastructure would require expensive repairs, making it a good choice for closure. Scientists, fishing groups, conservation organizations, and members of the North Carolina congressional delegation say the lab is a critically important scientific resource and will fight the closure.
  • Maine elver fisherman Danny Deraps has pleaded guilty to reporting less than half of the $700,000 he earned from fishing the baby eels in 2012. The guilty plea to tax evasion and theft will result in jail time and the loss of his elver license for the 2014 season. The prosecution was potentially a result of Governor LePage’s “Elver Project,” an ongoing effort to investigate income underreporting and welfare fraud by elver fishermen. Along with individual quotas, Maine has introduced a swipe card system for this year’s elver fishery that will help track landings and revenues.

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