In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 10

With industry support, scallop catch will be cut in 2013 and 2014. Photo: NEFSC/NOAA

  • A number of industry members, state and federal policymakers, and environmental groups gathered in Washington, DC this week for the third Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries conference. The conference has involved discussion of the upcoming reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Presentations included Pew’s Peter Baker, who called for better protection of the forage fish that serve as important prey species for commercially important species, and Northeast Seafood Coalition’s Jackie Odell, who called for the end of the rebuilding guidelines in the Magnuson-Stevens Act that require catch to be reduced to levels projected to rebuild overfished stocks within 10 years.
  • On May 8, NOAA announced its Atlantic sea scallop regulations for fishing year 2013. The regulations include lower catch limits for 2013 and 2014, adjustments to the timing of seasonal closures, and changes to yellowtail flounder bycatch accountability measures. Despite the cuts to catch, the measures have been widely supported by the scallop industry.
  • An article in the Bangor Daily News surveys the history of alewives in Maine and notes the new attention placed on these forage fish due to ongoing restoration efforts. These small river herring were once an important food source for the people of Maine. While they are no longer commonly eaten by people, they are still an important food source for other marine species like whales, cod, and bass. A new Maine law that went into effect on May 1 opened fishways on the St. Croix River to alewives, providing unrestricted access to the watershed for the first time in nearly two decades. The move is expected to help the recovery of alewife populations.
  • The School of Marine Science and Technology at UMass Dartmouth continues to work on developing a new method to survey yellowtail flounder populations. Researchers at SMAST are testing a net with an escape hatch that forces all fish past a camera, so they can be individually identifies and tallied without needing to land the fish. On Wednesday, they demonstrated this technology to a small group of industry stakeholders. A number of problems with the net apparatus are still being addressed, including mud clouds, image quality and automated fish identification.
  • NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard published an opinion piece in the Gloucester Daily Times this week defending the new regulations for the 2013 Fishing Year, which began May 1. Bullard acknowledges the economic difficulties that will be caused by the sharp cuts to catch limits, but notes the ecological and legal necessity of these actions. He also draws attention to the other actions taken by NOAA to mitigate the economic impact on the fleet, including reduced size limits, carryover of unused quota, and eased limits on monkfish and white hake.
  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced $1.6 million in new grants through its Fisheries Innovation Fund. The grants will go to 15 projects aimed at providing technical support to fishing communities nationwide. The projects include efforts aimed at improving fisheries monitoring, making data collection more efficient, and reducing discard mortality.
  • Two new sensors will soon be placed in the Gulf of Maine to automatically monitor blooms of the toxic microorganisms responsible for red tide outbreaks. They will also measure water quality, and will transmit the data to onshore laboratories. The buoys are expected to aid in predicting and monitoring coastal harmful algal blooms, which create poisons toxic to humans that concentrate in shellfish, leading to potential illnesses as well as economic losses for the shellfish industry.


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