In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 15

Sea scallop with 100 eyes at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Dann Blackwood, USGS

  • On August 10th the Maine Department of Marine Resources authorized commercial fishermen to harvest and sell green crabs without a special license. Fishermen will also no longer have to report their green crab harvests. The new regulations also enable lobstermen to take green crabs as bycatch. The invasive green grab species, averaging from 2 ½ to 5 inches in length, threaten the declining softshell clam industry. In 2013, the 10.6 million pounds of softshell clams landed in Maine valued at $16.9 million, down from the 11.1 million pounds landed in 2012.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded $20 million to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research at University of Maine to found a Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network program in Maine. In partnership with the University of New England, other institutions in Maine, and a diverse group of other partners and stakeholders, UMaine plans to use the grant to improve understanding of the interactions between sustainable ecological aquaculture, coastal communities and ecosystems.
  • A video-based survey, conducted by scientists at UMass Dartmouth over nine weeks, found a 32% increase in the scallop population on Georges Bank since 2012. This increase translates to 243 million pounds of scallop meat weight in 2012 to 320 million pounds today. The survey also uncovered 20 billion juvenile scallops in the Nantucket Lightship and along the Southern flank of Georges Bank. Department of Fisheries Oceanography Chair Kevin Stokesbury says this report will enable fisheries managers to take steps to help protect the stocks.
  • A piece in the Washington Post’s Food & Lifestyle section discusses the boom of lobster, and cultural consumption trends caused by recent surges in availability. The article details opinions on whether the effects of lobster size, cooking technique or water temperatures have the greater capability of satiating a consumer’s taste buds.
  • The Maine Department of Marine Resources appeased the Scallop Advisory Council, announcing the number of days in the 2014-15 scallop fishing season will be the same as in the previous one. The DMR proposed a 2014-2015 season of 70 days in Zones 1 and 2 (making up most of the coast), and 18 days in Zone 3 (scallop-rich Cobscook Bay region). The proposal also calls for a 15-gallon daily limit in Zones 1 and 2 and a 10 gallon daily limit in Zone 3. In 2009, 20% of Maine’s waters were closed to scallop fishing but were reopened to limited access in 2012. The three zones were established as a targeted management approach.
  • NOAA announced its approval of Massachusetts’ grant application for federal fishing aid, providing the state with $6.3 million of direct federal financial assistance. The aid will go to approximately 200 Bay State permit holders, for $32,500 per permit. More than 50 of these permit holders fish out of Gloucester. Another incoming $8.2 million in aid will to be distributed to Massachusetts in a state-specific grant program to help crew members, charter operators and shoreside fishing-affiliated businesses.
  • Humpback whale sightings have increased dramatically off the coast of New York and New Jersey this summer. Researchers attribute the greater prevalence of humpbacks to cleaner New York Harbor waters, which have provided for larger bait fish populations. NOAA marine mammal specialist, Mendy Garron, says the whales’ presence is an indication of an increased food source. Meaning, an abundance of menhaden could enable humpback whales to remain feeding in New York rather than migrate further north to Cape Cod or Maine.

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