In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 1

The Hopewell Mills dam site on Taunton's Mill River after removal. 51 dams were removed in the US in 2013, according to National Geographic. Photo: MA EEA

  • An opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News by State Representative Mark Devin points to the negative effects ocean acidification will have on Maine’s inshore fisheries. In particular, more acidic ocean water will stunt the growth of juvenile lobsters and weaken the shells of urchins, pteropods, marine worms, and shellfish. Representative Devin has introduced a bill to the Maine Legislature that would establish a panel to research ocean acidification and make recommendations on adaptation to changing marine chemistry. The bill is modeled after a similar measure from Washington State, where ocean acidification has already resulted in large economic losses for shellfish farmers.
  • Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has announced $10.4 million in funding from the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for four wetland and salt marsh restoration projects. The Massachusetts funding includes grants for Taunton, MA’s Mill River Restoration Project, $2.2 million for Round Hill Salt Marsh Restoration in Dartmouth; $3.7 million for Parkers River Restoration on Yarmouth; and $3.8 million for Muddy Creek Wetland Restoration in Chatham and Harwich. The projects were funded through the federal Superstorm Sandy relief bill, and are intended both to mitigate flooding and to restore river herring and other wildlife.
  • New Bedford Standard Times columnist Steve Urbon published an opinion piece in response to the NRC’s “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Stock Rebuilding Plans in the United States,” claiming that the report “ basically told fishing regulators that they’ve been doing it all wrong.” Despite the report’s indication that regulators should find ways to mitigate economic impacts without weakening 10-year rebuilding guidelines for overfished stocks, Urbon says the report supports eliminating that management system entirely during the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
  • Last Friday night, the sinking of the 65-foot fishing vessel Terra Nova claimed the lift of fisherman David Oakes, 46, of South Thomaston. The vessel was reportedly most recently a hydraulic clamming vessel. It had recently undergone repairs at a Gloucester shipyard and was en route to Portland when it began taking on water off Rockport, MA. The surviving member of the two-man crew, Jason Randall, credits his father-in-law Oakes with pushing him to safety and saving his life.
  • Last week, NOAA announced new guidelines to open electronic trip reporting to all Northeast region fisheries. The system, which allows fishermen to complete their trip reports via onboard computers rather than paper forms, was previously limited only to some groundfish vessels. Some fishermen say the system was constantly changing and cumbersome, particularly for fishermen catching both groundfish and other species, since those other species could not be reported electronically. The expansion of the program to other fisheries should allow more fishermen to use the system.
  • NRDC has released a film called “Ocean Oases”, narrated by Philippe Cousteau. The video highlights the submarine canyons along the edge of the continental shelf off the eastern United States as well as the chain of seamounts formed by underwater volcanoes. The canyons provide important habitat for numerous fish species, as well as deep-sea corals and marine mammals. The canyons are vulnerable to bottom trawling, but the Mid-Atlantic Council will soon ask for public comment on a suite of measures to protect corals in these and other areas.
  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has agreed to keep Maine’s elver fishery open for the 2014 season. The plan will involve Maine regulators working with local fishermen and the Commission to reduce catch by 25 to 40 percent. The ASMFC will vote on new rules for the elver fishery next spring. These rules will go into effect in 2015 and could shut down the fishery entirely. Only Maine and South Carolina currently allow fishing for the juvenile eels called elvers, which can fetch around $2000 per pound and are currenrly Maine’s second most valuable fishery.

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