In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 6

Maine increased the age by which student lobstermen can complete an apprenticeship. Image via nsf.gov.

Lobster prices are historically low, causing many Maine lobstermen to worry.  Due to earlier-than-usual shedding possibly brought on by warmer water temperatures, the supply of lobsters currently exceeds demand, and lobstermen say they are losing about a dollar per pound when the costs of fuel and bait are accounted for.  However, some are optimistic that tourism in Maine will raise prices towards the end of the summer.

Check out this great video about the dangers of mercury and how it gets into our environment and our seafood.

On the 20th anniversary of the imposition of the northern cod moratorium, the World Wildlife Fund has released a plan to create a Financial Institution for the Recovery of Marine Ecosystems (FIRME), which would use loans to promote the sustainable recovery of marine ecosystems worldwide.  The report detailing FIRME’s formation, purpose, and operation can be found in the September 2012 edition of the journal Marine Policy.

The Most Important Fish in the Sea, by historian and author H. Bruce Franklin of Rutgers University, discusses the integral ties between the menhaden fishery, American society, and marine ecosystem health.  Menhaden is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are used by humans in everything from animal feed to health supplements.  However, they are also a forage fish, essential prey for marine animals and sea birds, and filter feeders, improving water quality and keeping phytoplankton populations under control.  There are no federal regulations on the menhaden fishery, and their populations have thus been severely diminished by the industries that use omega-3 fatty acids.  The negative effects of menhaden decline have cascaded up the food chain to their predators as well as down to the plankton on which they feed and the water they filter.

The 2013 Massachusetts state budget includes a $200,000 grant to UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST).  The grant will fund continuing research on groundfish and scallops, as well as Gulf of Maine cod.  Researchers at SMAST hope to provide more accurate stock assessments for many Gulf of Maine species.

This week scientists are mapping the ocean floor 15 miles off the Maine coast.  Efforts to map the sea floor are consistent with the National Ocean Policy, which promotes mapping in order to better understand ocean habitats that may need protection.  Though some mapping studies have already been conducted in the Gulf of Maine, never before has a study been conducted at these depths (up to 300 feet) or this far from shore.  The study is a collaborative effort between scientists from the University of Maine, the Departments of Conservation and Maine Resources, and the EPA.


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