New England Fisheries

Talking Fish’s Look Back at 2012

A map of where Talking Fish's readers came from in 2012 - from the US to Mongolia.

2012 was a big year for fisheries management. Within the last several months, the ASMFC set the first catch limits for Atlantic menhaden; demolition  began on the Great Works Dam on the Penobscot River; the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legality of catch shares for the Northeast groundfish fishery; a glut of Maine lobster linked to warming waters lowered prices and caused conflict with Canadian fishermen; Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary celebrated its 20th anniversary; a disaster was declared for the New England groundfish fishery; the NEFMC voted to re-open groundfish mortality closures; John Bullard took over as NOAA Northeast Regional Administrator; and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco stepped down.

Through all of that, Talking Fish offered news and opinion pieces on New England fisheries management. We took a look at the Bottom Line and asked experts for their opinions, too. Here’s a look back at our most-read posts of 2012. Best wishes for a safe and productive year to come!

  1. January 13 – An Inconvenient Truth About Gulf of Maine Cod (Jud Crawford) – Many in New England were recently stunned by the news that the region’s prized codfish are in much deeper trouble than anyone had realized. The bleak conclusion of the most recent scientific assessment was unexpected, because just three years earlier cod appeared to show signs of recovery. Fishermen, scientists, and others have rightfully been asking, “What happened?”
  2. January 3 – Maine Shrimp: From Boom to Bust (Ben Martens) – Maine or “Northern” Shrimp (Pandalus borealis) have been targeted by fishermen in the Gulf of Maine for generations and are the small, delicious shrimp that normally make their way to our appetizer or dinner plates for the holiday season. This year though, Maine shrimp will be much harder to come by as the fishing season has been shortened due to a decline in the population according to the most recent population assessment.
  3. November 21 – Talking Turkey About Fish (Peter Shelley) – The air of optimism and relief that accompanied the creation of the sector system two years ago, the “end of overfishing” in New England, and the predictions that many stocks were rebuilding to high levels had presaged a new and better future. Any optimism is now gone, and in hindsight it seems ridiculous. The fox is not only guarding the chicken house; he is systematically demolishing it.
  4. April 11 – Bluefin Tuna: Value Beyond Measure (Brian Skerry) – I’ll never forget the first time I saw a bluefin tuna in the wild for I knew instantly that I was seeing a supreme ocean creature…I suppose I should have been afraid of being hit by something so large and powerful, but rather than fear I was struck with awe instead.
  5. May 21 – Congress, Catch Shares, and the Councils (Ben Martens and Nick Battista) – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives held a spirited debate and ultimately voted for an appropriations rider that prohibits NOAA, NMFS and the councils from developing new catch shares management plans on the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. While this debate was focused on catch shares as a means of management, which has been a lightning rod of controversy lately, the message it sends to the councils is far more concerning. If Representatives Frank (D-MA), Southerland (R-FL) and others are upset about how catch shares are being implemented in particular fisheries, the appropriate response should be to focus on addressing the issues in those specific fisheries and regions.



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