In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 8

Ocean acidification affects larval cod, and the Gulf of Maine may be particularly vulnerable. Photo credit: Julie Skadal

  • The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Canadian government have expressed concern that New England fishermen may be intentionally misreporting the location of their catch, resulting in caught fish being classified as a different stock. New England Fishery Management Council called the problem a “significant issue”, and a preliminary analysis by the Council indicated that reported locations sometimes do not match satellite tracking data. The state is particularly concerned about Gulf of Maine cod being misreported as Georges Bank cod, which has a significantly higher catch limit. One potential proposed solution would see federal observes required on all trips where a vessel would fish in more than one species management area. Ed. Note: In reaction to this post, New England Fishery Management Council Chairman Rip Cunningham has informed Talking Fish that while the Canadian government has not expressed concern over the potential misreporting issue, they have been briefed on the matter and asked to be kept apprised of any future information or developments.
  • Despite dramatic cuts to commercial catch limits for cod, recreational limits for cod have remained similar for 2013 in measures sent by the New England Fishery Management Council to NOAA for formal approval. Anglers will still be able to keep nine cod, and the minimum length remains at 19 inches. The minimum size for haddock has been increased to 21 inches with an unlimited bag limit.
  • Tom Nies, recently selected as the new executive director of the New England Fishery Management Council, took over the post from Capt. Paul Howard on Monday. Nies has worked with the Council since 1997, including as a technical coordinate and groundfish plan coordinator. In an interview with Seacoast Online, he acknowledged the difficulty of rebuilding groundfish stocks and the uncertainty of environmental factors, and said he would promote an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.
  • A new New York Times discussion series focuses on the consumer demand for sustainable seafood. The discussion features opinion pieces from stakeholders like author Callum Roberts, who strongly advocates habitat protection and the creation of new areas closed to fishing. It also features a contribution from Gloucester fishermen and Northeast Seafood Coalition head Vito Giacolone, who claims that all American seafood should be considered sustainable due to the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and argues that the rebuilding guidelines are unnecessarily strict and ecologically oversimplified.
  • A new scientific study suggests that ocean ecosystems in the northeast will be disproportionately affected by ocean acidification. The study, based on acidity and alkalinity measurements of water samples taken along the east coast, suggests that an equal amount of carbon dioxide entering the waters of the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of Mexico would have larger impact on the Gulf of Maine, due to the lower capacity of northeastern waters to buffer changes in pH. The Gulf of Maine’s buffering capacity was the lowest of the entire eastern seaboard, potentially due to the influx of fresh, low-alkalinity water from the Labrador Sea. More acidic waters affect shell-forming organisms like molluscs and pteropods and damage the health of cod larvae.
  • In a letter to the NOAA, New England Fishery Management Council member Dave Goethel has claimed that the calculation of the discard rate for groundfish trips is inaccurate and harmful. The discard rate is extrapolated for all groundfish trips from data collected by fisheries monitors on some randomly selected trips. The estimated discards are changed against the catch allocation of each fisherman. Goethel claims that the extrapolation is inaccurate because discards vary dramatically depending on which species is targeted, and because fisheries monitors cannot get accurate weight measurements on rolling boats. He proposes that at-sea monitoring be done away with, and that fishermen bring all fish—including discards—into port to be weighed.
  • The property that currently houses Cape Pond Ice has been put up for sale. The ice company featured in the movie The Perfect Storm has been owned by Dick and Scott Memhard since 1983, but diminishing demand for fish ice—used to keep catch cold on fishing vessels—has led them to sell the 35,000 square foot building. In addition to fish ice, the company sells ice to local restaurants and consumers and sells T-shirts and other souvenirs, and these other portions of the business will continue to operate.

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