In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, April 19

NOAA has suspended posession limits on monkfish, effective May 1. Photo credit: NEFSC

  • The proposed rule under consideration by NOAA to open current closed areas to commercial fishing is facing strong opposition. Environmentalists, scientists, and recreational and commercial fishermen have all agreed that opening the protected areas does not make sense when most New England groundfish stocks are in poor shape, and have said that the economic arguments for opening the areas do not make sense in the long term.
  • NOAA has suspended monkfish possession limits in the Northern Management Area, effective May 1. The suspension will last for at least 180 days, and will allow fishermen with limited access multispecies permits and monkfish permits to catch more fish on a single trip. The move is intended to increase economic opportunity for struggling groundfishermen.
  • New England’s oyster populations face a growing threat from climate change. Finally recovering from polluted water and disease outbreaks, the oyster industry now faces new threats related to warmer waters, including the warm-water bacteria vibrio. In addition, ocean acidification could kill larvae and prevent shells from forming properly.
  • Lobster fishermen are also concerned about warming waters. Warmer temperatures in the Gulf of Maine were linked to a huge lobster glut last spring and summer, which lead to low prices and conflicts with Canadian fishermen. Temperatures so far this spring are 1 to 2 degrees higher than usual, feeding fears of another glut. Fishermen have already begun catching soft-shell lobster offshore; the season usually does not pick up until June.
  • New research suggests that Newfoundland cod populations may never recover. After a precipitous crash in populations, the Canadian government declared a moratorium on fishing for cod off Newfoundland in 1992. The research suggests that more rapid action to protect the stocks may have allowed for recovery within a decade, but the failure to act quickly has made recovery unlikely.
  • A bill under consideration by the Maine legislature would allow Maine groundfishermen to sell their lobster bycatch. Maine is currently the only state that does not allow fishermen to sell the lobster they unintentionally catch in their trawls. The Maine Department of Marine Resources supports the proposal, unlike a similar measure that was rejected in 2007. In Massachusetts, however, the proposal is unpopular. Many Maine boats currently land their catch in Gloucester to allow them to sell their lobster, and so the rule is expected to divert landing and processing business from Gloucester back to Maine ports.
  • The Obama administration has released the implementation plan for the National Ocean Policy. The plan does not create new regulations, but instead seeks to improve federal coordination on permitting decisions, marine management, and the development of god scientific information. Stakeholders have praised the plan as inclusive, comprehensive, and practical.

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