In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 18

As Pacific shellfish show the effects of ocean acidification, Washington is making efforts to reduce impacts. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

  • The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit against the EPA in federal court, claiming the EPA has failed to act appropriately on the threat ocean acidification poses to oysters and other marine life off the Oregon and Washington coasts. This region has acidified more rapidly than many other areas, and studies have demonstrated that more acidic water adversely affects larvae of oysters and other shellfish. The suit argues that the EPA has violated its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act by failing to adequately address ocean acidification.
  • A Gloucester Daily Times editorial this week called the NEFMC’s Omnibus Habitat Amendment “so flawed it’s not worth the considerable paper on which it’s written.” The article questions the validity of the years of habitat research conducted by the Closed Area Technical Team and calls attempts to protect fish habitat a form of “ocean zoning.” It also takes issue with proposals that would restrict commercial but not recreational fishing in some areas and says that the closures would cause economic harm to fishermen, despite the fact that nearly all of the current alternatives would actually result in significant reductions in protected habitat compared to the status quo.
  • Lobsters are “the new symbol of climate change”, according to a Boston Globe opinion piece. Rising water temperatures have led to a population explosion of lobster in the Gulf of Maine, while lobster landings in southern New England have plummeted. A recent study found that lobster populations have shifted 43 miles north in the last decade. Despite the current population boom, climate change is a serious concern for the sustainability of lobster populations, as warmer temperatures drive lobsters to lay eggs farther offshore, where they are less protected. Overharvesting of rockweed, an important habitat for juvenile lobsters, is also a concern.
  • In response to last week’s news that NOAA is beginning to reopen surf clam beds on Georges Bank to fishing, the Boston Globe called the move a great example of cooperation between fishermen and regulators. The FDA worked with one clamming vessel to test clams over a five year period to ensure they were free of algal contamination, and is now training dozens of other fishermen to use the testing kit. The State of Massachusetts also just reopened 250 acres of clam flats in the Merrimack River estuary that have been closed for 80 years due to bacterial contamination.
  • Gloucester and New Bedford both received $75,000 grants this week to assist in the recovery of their coastal economies. The grants will be used to develop Port Recovery and Revitalization plans for each city. Funding for the grants was provided by an amendment to the state budget authorizing $150,000 to assist fishing communities in identifying and maintaining critical port infrastructure.
  • The recently ended government shutdown has caused delays in seafood processing plant inspections. Maine’s state-run inspections of seafood plants, contracted by the FDA, have been delayed by several weeks. Meat and poultry inspections have continued uninterrupted, since USDA meat inspectors are considered essential employees.
  • Early ASMFC surveys indicate that Gulf of Maine shrimp populations are in abysmal shape and that the 2014 shrimp season may be even worse than last winter’s disaster, when the harvest was the lowest since 1978’s fishery closure. Early data show that shrimp stocks could be at their lowest levels since surveys began in 1984.

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