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In the News
Fish Talk in the News – Friday, January 11
Maine increased the age by which student lobstermen can complete an apprenticeship. Image via nsf.gov.
- 2012 Maine lobster landings were the highest on record, jumping by over 18 million pounds to 123.3 million pounds from the 2011 catch of 105 million pounds. The 2011 catch was the first ever to top 100 million pounds. The abundance of lobster, and particularly a large glut of soft shell lobster unusually early in the season, has been linked to remarkably warm waters in the Gulf of Maine. The large harvest, combined with lower demand due to the lagging economy, has led to very low prices—on average just $2.68 per pound, and at one time under $2. These low prices meant a decrease in revenues compared to 2011, despite the rising costs of bait and fuel. A series of industry meetings are planned this month to discuss options for managing the abundance of lobster.
- Disaster relief aid for Hurricane Sandy, including funding for fisheries in New England, Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico, continued to struggle through the House of Representatives this week. Just before the close of the 112th Congress, the Senate passed a $60 billion aid plan that included $150 million in fisheries aid, but the House did not vote on the plan before the close on January 3rd. The 113th Congress has already approved $9.7 billion in flood insurance reimbursements, which did not include any aid for fisheries. Proposals for a second round of aid in the House have included far less than the $150 million approved in the Senate, ranging from $0 to $5 million, but included $261 million for NOAA Regional Ocean partnership grants and weather satellite monitoring. Republican Congressmen largely dismissed fishing aid as “pork”, while Massachusetts representative John Tierney criticized the limited allocations and promised to file an amendment for $150 million in aid. The aid package will be debated in the House on January 15th.
- Brian Rothschild, of UMASS Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology, published an article this week calling the biological reference points used to determine catch limits arbitrary. He suggests that the Council adopt a lower reference point for the acceptable level of a stock relative to its unharvested population. Rothschild also stated that cuts to catch limits would be devastating, despite the fact that to date, the industry has caught less than half of its 2012 catch limit for almost all groundfish stocks.
- An op-ed published in the New Bedford Standard-Times this week supports Barney Frank’s attempt to be appointed interim senator following John Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State. It points in particular to his willingness to collaborate with Republicans and his advocacy for the Massachusetts fishing industry.