In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 15

The Penobscot River in Maine (Photo credit: NOAA National Weather Serivce Eastern Regional Headquarters)

  • Maine’s Lobster Advisory Council plans to discuss a $3 million marketing campaign aimed at raising the price of Maine Lobster.  Lobster prices have stayed relatively constant over the past decade, while fuel and bait prices have skyrocketed.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council is looking for a new executive director after Paul Howard announced that he will be stepping down.  A search committee will be reviewing applicants until August 31.  Howard served on the NEFMC for 15 years.
  • A few weeks ago, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute announced its new Out of the Blue campaign to raise awareness of underutilized, underappreciated local seafood.  The campaign’s first week, focused on redfish, wrapped up this past Monday.  Check out the campaign’s website  for recipes and information about the featured fish species, and to learn which one will be featured next as the second week (July 20 – July 29) approaches!
  • Town residents, government officials, environmentalists, and members of the Penobscot Indian Nation gathered on the shore of the Penobscot River in Bradley, Maine on Monday as demolition work began on the Great Works Dam. The Great Works Dam demolition is the first step in a large project meant to allow anadromous fish species, such as shad, alewives, and Atlantic salmon, to return to their historic spawning grounds in the Penobscot River.  NOAA cites the project as the “single best opportunity to recover endangered Atlantic salmon.”  The Veazie Dam, downriver, will also be demolished in the coming years, and two others will be renovated so that fish can pass through or over them.
  • On a related, optimistic note for anadromous fish, this spring saw record numbers of river herring and shad returning to spawn in the Connecticut River.  The recent decline in these stocks has been partly attributed to the increasing population of striped bass, which feed on shad and river herring.  Another factor in their decline is that they are common bycatch on boats targeting Atlantic herring. The last time comparable numbers of shad returned to the Connecticut River was 20 years ago in 1992.  David Simpson, the director of marine fisheries for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, calls this “great news…very encouraging.”
  • A study by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine and the US Geological Survey shows a five-fold decrease in primary productivity levels in the Gulf of Maine in recent years.  This decrease has been attributed to an increase in rainfall due to climate change, resulting in much more fresh water flow into the Gulf of Maine.  More fresh water means a more stratified water column and more detritus from land – both factors that decrease the availability of nutrients and light necessary for phytoplankton growth.  Phytoplankton are at the base of every marine food web, so when their numbers are low the productivity and growth of the entire ecosystem can be greatly affected.  CLF’s Peter Shelley says the study is “jaw dropping in terms of its implications” for the Gulf of Maine marine ecosystem.

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