In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 3

Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic windowpane flounder is now considered rebuilt. Photo: NEFSC/NOAA

  • On Thursday, NOAA also released its 2012 Status of Stocks report. The report indicated that the number of overfished stocks in United States waters decreased from 45 to 41 since last year, and that 29 stocks experienced overfishing this year, relative to 36 last year. Three New England stocks—Acadian redfish, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic windowpane flounder, and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder—were added to the list of rebuilt stocks.
  • New data released by NOAA this week indicates that in the second half of 2012, sea surface temperatures off the Northeast United States reached their highest levels in 150 years. Average sea surface temperature in the region was 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit and has apparently risen 2-3.5 degrees over the past four years. The increase in 2012 was the largest yearly jump in average temperatures ever recorded. The information is based on a record of shipboard temperature measurements collected by NOAA, dating back to 1854. The warmer waters have been linked to changing species distributions, bacterial outbreaks, altered plankton blooms, a glut of Maine lobster, and declining shrimp catches.
  • An effort in the Acushnet River to remove dams and install fishways has helped river herring return to valuable spawning habitat. The dams were replaced with herring-friendly fish ladders between 2002 and 2007. Since 2007, numbers of herring spawning in the river have increased by 1,140 percent, and even more herring are expected to migrate through the river this year. River herring are an important food source for cod and other commercially significant species.
  • An op-ed published in The Cape Cod Times this week, written by a commercial fisherman who has fished for over forty years, blames NMFS for consistently bowing to fishing industry pressure. By allowing those with a financial interest in the fishery to serve as Fishery Management Council members, NMFS has created a lack of accountability that has allowed the industry to push for high catch levels. The author, Tony Austin, argues that NMFS should limit Council membership to scientists and laymen without a financial stake in the fishery.
  • New research from Maryland’s Oxford Cooperative Lab suggests that menhaden and bass abundance may be linked to an Atlantic-basin-wide temperature pattern known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The warming and cooling pattern has a roughly decadal periodicity. High spawning and recruitment of striped bass seems to be associated with warmer periods, while cooler periods bring more menhaden reproduction by suppressing storms and allowing spawners to move into estuaries more easily. This pattern may explain why higher menhaden abundance seems to accompany lower bass abundance (and vice versa).

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