In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, April 26

Acadian redfish is one species of "trash fish" that New England chefs are increasingly offering on their menus. Image via NOAA FishWatch.

  • The New England Fishery Management Council met this week in Mystic, Connecticut. On the agenda were a range of issues, including the development of a suite of measures to combat fleet consolidation, an overview of the recent white hake stock assessment, discussion of a potential sector management approach for the monkfish fishery, and the upcoming reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Given particular focus was a discussion of the Council’s approach to incorporating climate change into fisheries management decision-making. The Council agreed to map changes to groundfish distribution and spawning sites, consider the development of an ecosystem-based management plan, and calculate new biological reference points. The Council also voted down a motion to petition the Secretary of Commerce to approve a second year of interim measures for a number of groundfish species, which would avoid sharp cuts in catch limits by authorizing the fishery to reduce, rather than end, overfishing.
  • A Maine bill to allow groundfishermen in the state to sell their lobster bycatch has encountered a serious roadblock. The Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources voted unanimously to defeat the bill, which means likely defeat when the full House and Senate vote on the measure. The bill faced opposition from lobstermen but was supported by Maine groundfishermen. Maine is currently the only state that does not allow fishermen to sell their lobster bycatch, leading many Maine boats to land their catch in Massachusetts ports. Meanwhile, over 250 lobstermen have now joined the newly-formed IAM Maine Lobstering Union, following a season in which lobster prices hit their lowest levels since 1994.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service has approved an exemption allowing multispecies permit holders to use 4 ½” mesh to target redfish for the remainder of the 2012 fishing year. Fishermen, however, have argued that the move will not help them—those fishing with the smaller mesh size will require 100% observer coverage, and the cost of this at-sea monitoring will fall on the fishermen.
  • Maine’s bill to restore access to the St. Croix River watershed for alewives has come into effect. Although Governor LePage did not sign the legislation, under Maine law, after 10 days on the Governor’s desk the bill became law automatically. The bill requires the opening of fishways on the St. Croix to alewives by May 1, a move that fishermen and environmentalists agree will aid the recovery of the small river herring that provide food for species like cod and bass.
  • Cuts to the federal budget will likely mean furloughs for NOAA employees at the Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester. Although the dates of the furloughs have not been finalized, they will likely last four days and occur after the start of the 2013 fishing year on May 1. NOAA has been forced to cut 5 percent of its budget to comply with the sequestration measures.

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