In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 17th

Massachusetts has cut daily limits and reduced fishing days for striped bass this year. (Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • Canadian lobster fisherman reached a deal with processors last Friday that secured higher prices for their catch. Frustrated that a glut of Maine lobster being processed at Canadian plants had driven prices down, Canadian fishermen last week had blockaded processing plants from receiving shipments of Maine lobster. By Wednesday, all New Brunswick processing plants were shut down; on Thursday, a court injunction stopped the protests. Late Friday night processors agreed to raise prices by 25 cents, to be matched by the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, raising the price for live market lobster to $3.53. Meanwhile, in Maine, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree asked cruise ships calling on Portland to buy Maine lobster in an effort to drive up demand; Holland America agreed to purchase local lobster when visiting Bar Harbor.
  •  A former New Bedford scalloper who was driven out of business by fines and penalties is suing the federal government for lost wages, lost property, and emotional damages. Larry Yacubian was fined in 1998 for allegedly fishing in a closed area and lying about his catch. In 2000, his right to fish was permanently revoked, and he was prevented from selling his boat and fishing permits. A federal judge vacated the penalties in 2004, but law enforcement officials ignored the order, and in 2005, Yacubian agreed to pay $430,000 to settle the case. In 2011, he was refunded $400,000 and received letters of apology as part of a review of several cases ordered by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, but he says the refund does not account for his lost wages or the harm caused to his family.
  • Viral and bacterial infections are becoming more prevalent in Massachusetts striped bass, according to fisherman and the state Division of Marine Fisheries. The infection rate, while still under five percent for all Massachusetts fish, is higher for the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay. Affected fish present with red lesions along the underbelly and darkened patches of meat. Mycobacteriosis, a potential cause of the lesions, is an extremely common infection in the Chesapeake Bay area; the disease has not been confirmed in Massachusetts fish, but samples collected by fishermen are being tested. Researchers are concerned that warmer northern waters may be enabling the spread of disease.
  • Rust-colored algal blooms have returned to northeastern Buzzards Bay, sparking concerns about nitrogen pollution from runoff. The “rust tide” has the potential to clog gills and cause fish kills.
  • New Hampshire governor John Lynch has signed a bill allowing for multi-year licenses for oyster farmers in the Great Bay Estuary. The measure is intended to promote startups, which had been hindered by the need for yearly re-licensing, and to revive the oyster population.
  • The Monkfish Defense Fund, in a letter to NOAA, has argued that a lack of good data has led to unnecessarily harsh catch restrictions on monkfish. Although current catch limits are not being met, fishermen argue the 40 fishing days per year limit, combined with the unpredictable behavior of the elusive fish, is preventing the fishery from reaching its potential. The ugly fish has sweet tail meet that has rapidly gained popularity since the 1990s, with revenues for the fishery increasing from $3.5 million in 1980 to $53 million in 2000. Monkfish are considered abundant, leading fisherman to argue they could be a strong, sustainable alternative for fishermen struggling with cuts on other groundfish species.

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