In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 3

Predictions for sharp reductions in groundfish catch limits for 2013 have many fishermen - and their congressmen - worried. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

  • Statements released on Thursday from NOAA and the NEFMC revealed plans for significant reductions in catch limits for groundfish for the 2013 fishing year.  In light of these cuts, New Bedford mayor Jon Mitchell is traveling to Washington, D.C. this week to discuss the status and concerns of the fishing industry with Massachusetts congressional delegates.  One of his top concerns is the lowering of the yellowtail flounder quota, which will have a huge economic impact on both scallopers and groundfishermen.  U.S. Representative William Keating joined these efforts by sending a letter to NOAA calling for a full review of the agency’s stock assessment process, echoing the concerns of many that current data collection and assessment models are flawed.
  • Here’s an opinion piece from the Bangor Daily News on why alewives should be allowed into the St. Croix River in Maine.  The Maine government has yet to remove Grand Falls dam, which currently blocks the alewives’ access to 98% of the river, in spite of a July 9th letter from the EPA to Maine Attorney General William Schneider instructing him that the dam violates the Clean Water Act.
  • The Ipswich River watershed in Massachusetts covers 155 square miles and includes about 70 dams.  The removal of Curtis Pond Dam in Danvers, MA in June was the first of many dam demolitions planned for the watershed in an effort to restore the health of the rivers and the watershed ecosystem as a whole.  Scientists and regulators alike are hopeful that a healthier watershed will increase the number of migratory forage fish that spawn in its rivers.
  • Beginning this week, NOAA will be conducting an extensive survey in order to better understand the social and economic impacts that fisheries regulations are having on commercial fishermen and fishing communities.  The study will entail mailing at least two surveys, focused on costs and socioeconomic factors, to boat owners in 15 ports from Maine to North Carolina, as well as personal interviews with crew members on docks.
  • U.S. Representatives Edward Markey and Barney Frank introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, or SAFE Seafood Act, to congress last Wednesday.  The bill is in response to a 2011 study that used DNA testing to show that almost 50% of seafood served in restaurants in the Boston area is mislabeled.  The SAFE Seafood Act would increase coordination between the FDA and NOAA, the two agencies currently responsible for seafood inspection, as well as requiring wholesale and retail seafood dealers and restaurants to label their seafood in much greater detail than today’s laws demand.  Markey and Frank emphasize that seafood fraud and mislabeling negatively impact the domestic fishing industry and undermine peoples’ efforts to eat local, sustainable, healthy seafood.
  • As the Maine lobster glut continues and lobstermen’s profits remain historically low, many are thinking about how to handle the crisis should it reoccur in years to come.  One of the major disconnects between supply and demand is that though live lobsters are very cheap, most people don’t want to prepare the lobster themselves – and the cost of the labor required to cook and prepare lobster at restaurants and for products like lobster rolls and lobster mac-and-cheese hasn’t changed.  Among the ideas presented are increased marketing, a heightened focus on lobster-based products, and potential changes to fishing regulations.
  • Sport Fishing Magazine gets a chance to ask President Obama about his administration’s commitment to fisheries management.  Read the Q&A – covering everything from quota reductions to stock assessments and National Ocean Policy – to find out what Obama’s administration has done and plans to do regarding fisheries management in the U.S.
  • At a recent conference at Bowdoin College, scientists working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute discussed the changes in the Gulf’s populations of the zooplankton Calanus finmarchicus over the past few decades.  Calanus is an abundant keystone zooplankton species in the Gulf of Maine – it is important both in its role as predator for phytoplankton and prey for larger marine animals like the endangered right whale.  Some studies suggest that changes in zooplankton communities may occur in the future as the Gulf of Maine waters get warmer and less saline.
  • Anglers and bait shops in communities along Long Island Sound are reporting that menhaden, an important forage fish and food for bluefish and striped bass, are abundant in the Sound this summer.
  • Read about the many challenges that will face John Bullard as he begins his new role as the head of NOAA’s Northeast office, which is currently located in Gloucester, MA and is responsible for fisheries between Maine and North Carolina.
  • The Maine Lobster Festival began on Wednesday this week in Rockland, Maine, and will continue until Sunday.
  • Check out New England Ocean Odyssey’s latest post about why the Atlantic wolffish – and it’s rocky bottom habitat – needs protection.  And while you’re at it, watch videos of wolffish eating sea urchins and starfish!

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