In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, December 19

Lobster are heating up in New England. Photo Credit: Zachary Whalen/Flickr.

  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute developed an interactive map viewer for the proposed habitat alternatives in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment currently under review by the Northeast Fisheries Management Council. The viewer allows users to activate different layers in order to visualize the various proposed closed areas under each alternative.
  • OceanAdapt, a new online tool developed by Rutgers University, tracks fish population shifts as a result of warming ocean waters. Lobsters and black sea bass are two examples of species that have already relocated to cooler waters. OceanAdapt users will receive up to date information of marine species distribution, information that will be helpful for fishermen and fisheries managers adapting to climate change.
  • Maine’s 2014 lobster season appears to have a lower catch than in 2012 and 2013. The lower catch, possibly a result of a later shell shed, has increased the value of the lobsters which has translated to slightly higher market prices. Although catches were lower, lobstermen seem happy with the catch and say it was still a productive season.
  • The Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Bigelow Laboratory will be issuing weekly forecasts of lobster migration from deep to coastal waters in Maine. Gulf of Maine waters are expected to be warmer next season which may cause an earlier lobster shell shed and migration as seen in 2012. The research institute says that the forecasts will allow fishermen and processors be better prepared for the 2015 season.
  • Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to develop a management plan for forage fish species in the region which will prevent development of a directed fishery. Forage fish are a key prey species and energy source for larger fish and help to sustain the overall marine ecosystem health.
  • NMFS is currently seeking public comment on a Northeast Region Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) through February 13, 2015. MAFMC and NEFMC jointly proposed the SBRM which would apply to all management plans in both regions and would standardize reporting and monitoring as well as establish new observer procedures in the regions.
  • A New York Times Sunday article says the Gulf of Maine’s waters are warming faster than any other on earth at a rate of one degree every two years. The rising temperatures are affecting numerous marine species in the region as well as the fishermen that work in these waters—Maine’s lobster and shrimp industries have already begun to feel these effects. Some are in disagreement however as to whether climate change is the reason for the change in fisheries or if poor management is to blame
  • In a recent opinion piece, president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods Roger Berkowitz names climate change as the “real problem” facing New England fisheries. He says that cod cannot survive in the warmer waters and have moved to colder areas, and he claims that better stock assessment methods are needed to document changes such as this.
  • A handful of New Hampshire Seacoast schools are now offering locally caught fish through a community- based “Fish to School” program. The Seacoast Online article features the Oyster River High School program that is currently serving Acadian redfish in its cafeteria. Oyster River High School is one of nine schools participating in the program.
  • ASMFC approved a new amendment for summer flounder management in 2015. The proposed document includes status and background information on the fishery as well as alternatives for stock management. The document will be available for public comment soon.
  • The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud issued a strong set of recommendations on how to combat this major problem in the United States. A media note released by a Washington DC spokesperson stated, “The recommendations include input from various stakeholders and aim to level the playing field for legitimate fishermen, increase consumer confidence in sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S., and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks.”
  • NMFS and the scallop industry prevailed over Oceana on every challenge related to their compliance with the Endangered Species Act in regard to sea turtles. In a court challenge, Oceana claimed that NMFS used the wrong standard to assess the industry’s impact on sea turtles, failed to consider climate change impacts, and the manner in which NMFS estimated sea turtle takes each year was unlawful. The United States District Court ruled against Oceana on all three claims. This is seen as a major victory for the scallop industry.
  • Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill was introduced in the Senate, although it may be some time before the new bill is finalized. The 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary marine fisheries management law in the U.S. that established eight regional fishery management councils and a 200 mile exclusive economic zone. The act must be reauthorized every seven years.
  • NOAA Fisheries is conducting voluntary surveys on river herring. They will be gathering firsthand information from commercial and recreational fishermen in order to better understand the fishery population along the east coast over the last 20 years.
  • NOAA Fisheries is hosting public webinars to provide information on the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (Amendment 7) which is aimed at reduced bluefin discard. One webinar was held on Wednesday, and the next one will be on December 22nd, 1-3pm.
  • NOAA Fisheries is seeking input on guidelines for safely deterring marine mammals. The agency is directed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act to establish national guidelines.

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