In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, December 21

A map of the New England groundfish closures. NOAA is considering action to open areas in orange that do not overlap with shaded areas to commercial fishing. Map Credit: NOAA Information Sheet

  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last Friday voted to cut the menhaden catch for 2013 by 20% from the previous three-year average. Environmental groups had pushed for cuts of up to 50%, noting menhaden’s value to ocean ecosystems and arguing that menhaden are experiencing overfishing. Members of the reduction fishing industry—dominated by Omega Protein—had claimed that anything beyond a 10% cut would severely hurt their ability to do business. Menhaden stocks have never previously been subject to catch limits, but have declined nearly 90% over the last 30 years.
  • The University of Massachusetts has replaced Dr. Brian Rothschild as head of the Massachusetts Fisheries Institute as part of a restructuring of the marine science organization. Steve Lorhenz, dean of the School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at UMass Dartmouth, will become the new co-director of the Institute. Dr. Rothschild was generally popular with industry stakeholders, as his stock assessments at SMAST often showed stocks—particularly scallops—to be in better shape than indicated by government surveys. Rothschild will retain his current professorship and salary. The move garnered harsh criticism from some in the fishing industry, who claimed the move was a “Kafkaesque” ploy to silence opposition to fisheries regulations.
  • Troublingly warm waters in the Gulf of Maine are causing rapid environmental changes, according to an article published this week in The Bangor Daily Times. Ed Monat, who frequently dives in Frenchman Bay, noted very warm waters this summer, an unusual abundance of lobsters, and a scarcity of sea stars and dogfish. Temperatures near shore are currently about 10 degrees higher than they were last winter. The warm waters could potentially interfere with lobster molting, lead to more intense and longer harmful algal blooms, and displace populations of cold-water fish like cod.

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