In the News
Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, August 9
From time to time, we like to keep you updated on the other news sources that have been “talking fish.” Here’s a quick look at some recent stories and websites that we think might interest Talking Fish readers:
- Last week, the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance‘s Science and Policy Coordinatoor, Boyce Thorne-Miller, blogged about ecosystem-based fishery managementFishery management actions aimed at conserving the structure and function of marine ecosystems, in addition to conserving the fishery resource. (EBFM), a method of managing fishery resources that addresses the health of the marine ecosystem and the various fish species it supports as a whole, rather than managing each fish stockA geographic management unit for a portion of a fish population usually defined by a particular migration pattern, specific spawning grounds or because it is fished in a specific area. Single species are sometimes managed as several stocks based on biology, fishery activities, management practicalities or some combination of these. For example, Atlantic cod is currently managed as the Gulf of Maine cod stock and Georges Bank cod stock. Within these stock areas there may be distinct sub-populations. indivdiually and in isolation. Ms. Thorne-Miller supports the shift from traditional management approaches to EBFM, describing it as a change from “dead fish management” to “living fish management,” because “the numerical data about catches that must be reported to fisheries managers is important, but so is information about how living populations of fisheries and their support species are behaving and moving.” She also writes that “Data and observations from government scientists, academic scientists, social scientists, and fishermen-scientists alike will be needed to make this new management work. And that means the toxic mistrust among these groups of professionals must end and a mutual willingness to improve techniques and coordinate information must begin.”
- There’s been a lot of news about menhaden lately, and The Baltimore Sun‘s Outdoors Girl blog reported last week on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries CommissionA deliberative body made up of representatives from the coastal Atlantic states that coordinates the conservation and management of the states' shared near shore fishery resources – marine, shell, and anadromous – for sustainable use.’s (ASMFC) decision to approve for public comment a suite of options for managing menhaden. Menhaden are a small, oily fish that are an important source of food for striped bass and other fish, but they are also used as bait for lobster and blue crabs and are ground up for use in ever day products like dog food and cosmetics. The stock has been declining and is currently at its lowest point in history. According to the blog, “The five options ranged from maintaining the status quo—an action that would almost certainly continue overfishingThe act of removing fish from a population faster than they can reproduce, which will thus deplete the population, or stock. Note that both healthy and depleted (i.e., overfished) populations can be subjected to overfishing (see definition of overfished).—to reducing the harvest by as much as 45 percent from 2010 levels.” Public comment on these options will take place now through October, and the ASMFC will reach a final decision on menhaden management in November. To learn more about menhaden and the problems the species is facing, read this article from Gilt Taste.
- NOAANational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A government agency responsible for the regulation and protection of the atmosphere and marine resources. This federal agency is based in Washington, D.C. and falls under the Secretary of Commerce. Fisheries released an online mapping tool that lets users view a spatial representation of essential fish habitatThe habitat fish require for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. Thus, the protection of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is crucial to supporting and maintaining healthy fish populations. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that Fishery Management CouncilsEight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to develop fishery management plans for fisheries in federal waters. Council members include representatives from each state fishery agency, the federal government, commercial and recreational fishing interests and the conservation community. The councils have staff that conduct technical and policy work and serve on the various committees of the council. Councils meet at least five times per year and various committees meet more frequently. identify and take action to minimize, to the extent practicable, the adverse effects of fishing on EFH. (EFH), habitat areas of particular concernAreas within Essential Fish Habitat that are ecologically important, sensitive to disturbance, or rare. (HAPCs), and EFH areas protected from fishing. It can take some time to load, but it’s interesting to see which species are near you!
- Last Friday, a federal judge in California upheld the recently-enacted Pacific GroundfishBottom-dwelling, or demersal, fish species such as Atlantic cod, haddock, flounders, hake and pollock. These species often share the same habitat and are managed together as a stock complex. Though groundfish spend much of their lives near the bottom, the eggs and larval fish live near the water surface and even adults move up into the water column at various times, such as when pursuing their food. Trawl Rationalization Program. This news release from the West Coast Trawlers’ Network explains the case and court decision in more detail. The Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program is a catch share program featuring Individual Fishing QuotasA conservation and management tool that sets catch limits for individual vessel owners or operators. IFQs are a form of catch shares. (IFQs) and Harvest Cooperatives. According to the West Coast Trawlers’ Network, the “lawsuit alleged, among other things, that the fishery rationalization program violates national standards requiring management measures to prevent overfishing and to minimize bycatchSea life unintentionally caught while fishing for another species. This sea life is either brought to shore and sold, or discarded at sea, with much of the discarded sea life ultimately dying. and bycatch mortality to the extent possible.” The judge rejected these claims in favor of the federal government’s argument that the program would increase individual accountability for total catch and bycatch, thereby allowing fishermen to optimize their catch of abundant species and avoid bycatch. This is the second time this year that a federal judge has upheld a catch shares program; earlier this summer federal judge Rya W. Zobel upheld New England’s sector management system for the groundfish fishery.