In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 13

Fisheries managers should take an ecosystem-based approach, including protection for forage fish like these river herring. (Photo Credit Tim and Doug Watts)

  • On July 9th, in a major victory for alewives, the EPA directed Maine’s Attorney General to take action to allow alewives and other small fish species to access habitat above the Grand Falls Dam in the St. Croix River.  A story from this weekend’s Portland Press Herald covers the history of the 17 year effort to open the St. Croix to these important forage fish, which are at the base of many commercially and ecologically important marine food chains.
  • While fishermen and environmentalists don’t often see eye to eye on fishing regulations and fisheries management, recent decisions by the New England Fisheries Management Council have brought them together over the regulation of the industrial Atlantic herring fleet.
  • Interested in Community Supported Fisheries?  Read about their role in promoting both environmental and economic sustainability – good news for fish and fishermen.  Also watch this video from the 2012 National Community Supported Fisheries Summit that spells out the benefits from the perspectives of both fishermen and customers.
  • Removal of the Spoonville Dam on the Farmington River in Connecticut began this week in an effort to allow anadromous fish species to return to their native spawning grounds upriver.  This effort will especially benefit forage fish such as river herring and American shad, whose populations are currently struggling because of a combination of overfishing and habitat loss.  The project was timed so as not to coincide with fish spawning or migration, and is expected to be complete by early August.
  • Did you know that fisheries and aquaculture worldwide produced 128 million tons of seafood for human consumption in 2011?  Or that the two industries combined currently employ 55 million people?  A new UN report focuses on the importance of fisheries and aquaculture in ensuring livelihood and food security, cautioning that poor management and under-protection of habitat may be jeopardizing both wild fisheries and aquaculture.  The authors encourage sustainable management of both wild and farmed fish production in order to maintain and even increase food security in the future.
  • The North East Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) announced its participation in the new Global Alliance of Continuous Plankton Recorder Surveys, a worldwide collaboration among scientists studying plankton.  Since plankton are at the very base of nearly every marine food web, studying their biology, abundance, and responses to changes in ocean temperature and acidity is essential to understanding how our ocean ecosystems will evolve in the face of climate change.
  • The NEFMC has accepted a river herring bycatch avoidance program for Atlantic herring trawlers developed by students at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology.  Under this program, Department of Marine Fisheries employees meet returning herring trawlers in port and sample their catch as it is unloaded.  When they find high numbers of river herring bycatch, data on where those fish were caught is disseminated to other trawlers who can then avoid those areas.
  • On June 29th, 2012, NOAA approved the last of the 46 fisheries management plans required by the Magnusson-Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2007, making US fisheries some of the most well managed in the world.  Each fishery management plan describes annual catch limits (ACLs) for the stock or stocks at hand.  When well-enforced, ACLs aim to ensure that overfishing does not occur, and support rebuilding efforts for stocks that are already overfished.  This is a historic achievement for NOAA and United States fisheries.  However, it is essential that fisheries science remains at the core of these management plans, and that those fisheries are continually studied and monitored such that their management plans can be continuously improved in the future.
  • With new leadership at the North East Fisheries Science Center at Woods Hole and the northeast region of NOAA Fisheries Service, some are hopeful that science, policy, and enforcement together may bring some relief to New England’s struggling fish stocks and fishing communities.
  • The Pew Environmental Group is urging people to write to NOAA to show their support of continuing fisheries regulations that take long term environmental and economic sustainability and ecosystem resilience into account.
  • 20 years after Canada’s government placed a moratorium on cod, some scientists in Newfoundland are seeing signs that the health of the northern cod fishery could be improving.  Cod seem to be slightly more abundant and larger than they have been in the past 20 years.  While the fishery is not expected to re-open in the near future, many say that these biological signs are reason for hope that the stock will eventually recover.
  • After 45 years of working to restore Atlantic salmon to the Connecticut River, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will no longer be raising salmon fry in its two Vermont hatcheries.  The FWS said their decision was based on the habitually low numbers of salmon returning to the river each summer, despite their best efforts, which include releasing as many as 5 million salmon fry each spring from the White River hatchery in Vermont alone.  This year only 29 returning Atlantic salmon were counted at the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station in Sunderland, VT.
  • John Kerry, as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, stated his plans to hold a committee review of the health of oceans worldwide.   The review will cover topics from fisheries to climate change and pollution.

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