In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 4

Harbor porpoises are frequently caught as bycatch in gillnets. (Photo credit: William Keener/Golden Gate Cetacean Research)

  • William Karp, the Science and Research Director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, wrote a letter to the New Bedford Standard-Times calling for cooperation between scientists and fishermen. In particular, he notes the “negative public rhetoric” that challenges the work of fisheries scientists and impedes their ability to work effectively with industry; he says he looks forward to building a more positive mutual understanding.
  • Leah Lopez Schmalz of Save the Sound published an op-ed in the Connecticut Post calling the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization process an opportunity for improved federal fisheries management. She calls for the adoption of amendments promoting ecosystem-based fisheries management, particularly the protection of forage fish. She also notes the additional stresses placed on marine ecosystems by climate change.
  • Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association President Angela Sanfilippo received the Offshore Mariners’ Wives Friend of the Fishing Industry Award at New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival, in recognition over her decades of work in support of the fishing industry. Former recipients have included Gloucester Daily Times reporter Richard Gaines, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Congressman Barney Frank.
  • In addition to numerous studies documenting the effects of climate changes on fish distribution, scientists are now using fish distribution to inform weather forecasts. Tarpon, for example, tend to follow the boundary of a particular isotherm, and the depth of this isotherm is a good indicator of the energy available to form severe hurricanes. By tracking the depth at which tarpon swim, scientists may be able to make better predictions on the potential strength of storms. Other studies involve attaching satellite tags to large marine animals, which can then record detailed temperature and other oceanographic information.
  • Opinion pieces in both Cape Cod Online and Seacoast Online promote dogfish as a tasty and relatively abundant seafood alternative. The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance hosted a reception last week to promote dogfish and skate, and industry stakeholders have suggested several options to drive up the low price of dogfish, including federal purchasing contracts and even a name change. The Seacoast piece notes that dogfish are currently abundant in New England, with a catch limit of 40 million pounds, and so are a good alternative for those hoping to continue to buy local fish even as groundfish species remain depleted.
  • NOAA released a final rule amending the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan regulations. The plan attempts to reduce bycatch of harbor porpoises by the gillnet fishery in the Gulf of Maine. The new amendments eliminate the consequence closures prescribed by the plan, which the new rule says may come into effect improperly when assumed porpoise bycatch rates do not accurately reflect real rates due to changes in fishing practices. The new rule means the gillnetting closure that would have gone into effect in the Coastal Gulf of Maine on October 1 will no longer occur.
  • UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) has been using autonomous robots, called gliders, to collect oceanographic information. The gliders run preprogrammed routes along the eastern seaboard to collect information on ocean conditions during hurricane season, because they have been shown to survive well and continue collecting data through severe storms. They can collect temperature and depth information as well as acoustic data from tagged marine life.
  • SMAST has also partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to create the 16-member Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute Advisory Council, which seeks to bring more outside expertise to the Institute. The MFI “aims to promote sustainable fisheries by providing timely information needed to protect, conserve, and manage Massachusetts’ marine and coastal resources.”

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