In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 16

The NEFMC approved a high-risk 400 metric ton harvest level for Georges Bank yellowtail flounder. Photo Credit: NOAA

  • At its meeting this week, the New England Fishery Management Council took action on yellowtail flounder catch limits and the allocation of quota between the groundfish, scallop, and small mesh fisheries. Early in the day on Wednesday, the council heard a letter from New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who asked the council to reconsider the US/Canada agreement on a 2013 catch limit for yellowtail flounder of 500 mt (285 mt to Canada, 215 to the US). The mayor argued such a low catch limit would be devastating to groundfishermen and to the scallop fishery, which catches yellowtail as bycatch and thus requires a yellowtail allocation to fish for scallops. Mitchell promoted the maximum catch limit recommended by the Science and Statistical committee, 1150 mt.
  • Later in the day, the Council voted by a narrow margin to raise the yellowtail quota to 1150 mt for FY 2013 (655 mt for Canada, 495 mt for the US), in defiance of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee recommendation. The move was opposed by 8 members of the council and by NOAA regional administrator John Bullard, who warned that the move would be promptly struck down and had the potential to threaten the US/Canada resource sharing deal. The move will require NOAA approval and permission from the TMGC to reconsider the limit.
  • Recreational fishermen support efforts to enact strict caps on the menhaden catch, according to an editorial published in The Connecticut Post this week. Aside from the environmentalist stance that menhaden provide invaluable support for ocean food chains and ecosystems, recreational fishermen support menhaden conservation because more menhaden mean a healthier recreational fishery. The article notes that the once-routine sight of bluefish following massive schools of menhaden has now become a rarity, and asks that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission stand up to commercial interests and set strict limits on menhaden catch. The ASMFC is set to vote on catch limits and other management measures for Atlantic menhaden on December 14th.
  • The recent disaster declaration for the New England groundfishery has sparked debate on how potential disaster aid money should be put to use. While fishermen hope that direct aid will help their businesses survive the pressure of decreased catch limits, processors and distributors say that they are also hurting and hope to have a share of the aid as well. In addition, many stakeholders hope that funding will be provided for cooperative research and new stock assessments to increase industry confidence in fisheries science, as well as improvements to port infrastructure that would support coastal businesses. The federal government declared the New England groundfish industry a disaster in September; the industry and congressional delegations have asked for up to $100 million in aid, but none has been allocated.
  • The Foley Fish Company, a New England-based family-owned seafood company, has obtained Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification. The Chain of Custody certification is a traceability program that traces seafood back to a sustainably sourced fishery. Foley Fish will immediately begin to offer MSC certified Chilean sea bass, will offerings to expand in coming months. Laura Foley Ramsden, owner of Foley Fish, serves on the New England Fishery Management Council.

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