In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 14

Great white sharks have returned to Cape Cod for the summer season. Photo via EPA.

  • An editorial published in the Boston Globe this week acknowledges the “destructive potential” of the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley two weeks ago, which seeks to force NOAA to raise catch limits on key groundfish species. The article notes the culture of distrust between NOAA and the industry and expresses hope that Coakley’s lawsuit will help fishermen transition to healthier stocks. But it also points out the strong scientific evidence that cod stocks are severely depleted, and notes that the suit could allow the industry to deplete cod stocks to the point of no return. While catch limits will place a financial burden on fishermen, there will be no fishing industry if there are no fish.
  • Gloucester Daily Times journalist Richard Gaines was found dead at his home this week at age 69. Gaines had a 40-year journalism career in New England, including writing for UPI and editing the Boston Phoenix. For the past 11 years, Gaines covered politics and the fishing industry for the Daily Times.
  • Cape Cod fishermen are hoping to transition to cleaner, more efficient fuels. Some fishermen have added hydrogen electrolyzers to their boats, which help clean the engine and improve fuel efficiency, while others are hoping to switch to natural gas or biofuels. Some are also installing solar panels to power lights and radios.
  • Cape Cod’s first great white shark of the year has been spotted off Nauset Beach in Orleans. The shark is estimated to be about 13 feet long. Nauset Beach was closed for an hour as a result of the sighting, and surrounding towns were notified. The sighting was earlier than in previous years—the first great whites were spotted off Cape Cod in July last summer. The sharks have been attracted to the Cape’s growing population of gray seals, a favored prey species of great whites.
  • State House News Service conducted a question and answer session with Massachusetts senate candidates Edward Markey and Gabriel Gomez focusing on marine issues. When asked what he would do to assist Massachusetts fishermen, Gomez responded that he supports Attorney General Martha Coakley’s lawsuit to raise groundfish catch limits. Markey answered that he will continue the push for federal disaster funding for the groundfish industry and for NOAA to cover the cost of at-sea monitoring. When asked about Cape Wind, Gomez said he does not support the initiative and believes it is a “bureaucratic mess” without local support. Markey said he supports Cape Wind and will push for more offshore wind development in New England.
  • Connecticut has dramatically scaled back its efforts to stock the state’s rivers with Atlantic salmon fry. After over 40 years of stocking efforts that have involved placing millions of juvenile hatchlings in rivers, the program has not been successful, with only small numbers of salmon returning to spawn each year. Numbers of returning fish have declined steadily since 1986, and only 47 individuals returned this year in all of Connecticut’s rivers combined. Many believe that climate change has impacted the restocking program, with fewer fish surviving once they reach the ocean. The state will continue with a significantly smaller legacy program in a few rivers.
  • Maine’s House has defeated a bill that would have allowed groundfishermen to land and sell their lobster bycatch. Despite being passed by the Marine Resources Committee, the bill was voted down 106-38 on Tuesday, and has also been defeated in the senate. The measure was designed to provide economic relief to Maine fishermen whose quota for groundfish species like cod and haddock has been cut, but lobster fishermen are adamantly opposed to the proposal. Maine is currently the only New England state that does not allow groundfishermen to sell lobster caught in federal waters.
  • A Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health hearing held at the State House on Tuesday included discussion of a bill that would fine supermarkets and restaurants for mislabeling seafood and ban escolar, a fish often sold as white tuna that can have negative digestive effects. The discussion follows recent investigations by the Boston Globe and Oceana that used DNA testing to show widespread mislabeling of seafood in New England.
  • Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan has introduced two amendments to the Senate’s 2013 farm bill to help the fishing industry. One would implement a catch insurance program for fishermen, much like the federal crop insurance currently offered to farmers. The second would provide low-interest loans to fishermen. The bill has been passed by the Senate, but the House still needs to pass its own version and the two will need to be reconciled.

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