In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 22

Striped bass caught on Chesapeake Bay fishing charter. Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

  • Senator Cantwell (WA) and Senator Begich (AK) are drafting federal legislation to create a national strategic plan to combat ocean acidification. The legislation calls for an assessment of at-risk critical marine habitats and fisheries. Scientists say the current levels of CO2 in the oceans can already have adverse effects on water chemistry. With commercial fishing nationally valuing at $70 billion and 1 million jobs, the economic implications of ocean acidification are potentially staggering.
  • An article featured in The Working Waterfront discusses the upcoming decisions facing NOAA fisheries and the NEFMC regarding marine protected areas (MPAs). The article cites a recent global study by Graham Edgar and 24 co-authors published in Nature of research associated with 87 MPAs around the world. Identifying five key features of MPAs—no-take, well-enforced, ten-plus years as a protected area, larger than 100 km2, and isolated by deep water or sand—the researchers found MPAs corresponding with at least three of these features as correlating with a presence of not just more, but larger fish. The authors found that MPAs with fewer than three features were largely indistinguishable from with unprotected areas.
  • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court voted to deny the claim that the proposed 1.9 acre Popponesset Bay oyster farm in Mashpee, MA be reviewed by the Cape Cod Commission on the grounds that it is a commercial development. Local homeowners who filed the claim say the oyster farm is a nuisance and a potential safety hazard.
  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission put forward new regulations on striped bass fisheries. Officials are proposing a 25% reduction in harvest based on stock assessments indicating female spawning stock and biomass stock are near threshold levels of being overfished. According to the head of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries service, spawning stock biomass has been in decline for the past 10 years.
  • On Aug. 11 the National Marine Fisheries Service alerted the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils that the 2014 Trimester 2 longfin squid fishery will be closed until Aug. 31. Regulations require the NMFS to close the fishery when 90% of the quota for each trimester has been caught. Until the third Trimester opens up, only “incidental” catch is permitted.
  • For the last ten years Boston Sword & Tuna has sold family-owned Market Basket 30,000 pounds of salmon per week, along with 25,000 pounds of other seafood items. The recent employee protests have affected deliveries and created a series of subsequent payment issues leading Boston Sword & Tuna to sell their product to other grocers.
  • The Buzzards Bay’s herring population has reported to be at its largest levels since 2011. Over 10,000 herring swam up the Acushnet River, a 68% increase from last year; the Mattapoisett River population experienced a 156% increase; and the Agawam River experienced a greater than 100% increase. River herring, a forage fish, have been in decline through the early 2000s, with populations decreasing by 90% in the last 90 years.Scientists suggest a Massachusetts 2006 state ban on the river herring fishery could explain the population surge.
  • The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries also enforced new striped bass regulations this spring. The regulations shortened the number fishing days in each week from four to two and cut the daily catch limit from 30 to 15 striped bass per fishermen. Commercial surf fishermen, fishing from the beach, were limited to two fish each day. These new regulations are partially driven by low spawning stocks in Mid-Atlantic States, affecting the numbers of adult fish reaching Massachusetts waters. However, critics say these regulations just provide fishermen with the incentive to head to Rhode Island waters, fish in federal waters, fish individually on separate vessels, or store fish improperly.
  • A Piece in the Boston Globe tells readers to consume seafood sustainably. According to the World Bank Sustainable Development Network, roughly 85% of the ocean’s fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted. A lack of variety in the consumer diet is a large reason for the pressure placed on fisheries. Shrimp, tuna and salmon comprise 55% of American seafood consumption, and the top 10 commercial species make up 88%.

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