In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, December 5

January to October 2014 had the highest global average temperatures on record. Image credit: NOAA

  • In a letter to the Boston Globe, Matt Mullin, Northeast Regional Director of the US Oceans Program for the Environmental Defense Fund, says that better monitoring is critical to saving the Gulf of Maine cod fishery. Roughly only 20% of New England fishing boats are currently monitored by human observers, compared with 100% of the successful Pacific groundfish fishery. Mullin says that outfitting boats with video and electronic monitoring systems would be a cost-effective and timely way to increase monitoring.
  • NOAA announced that global land and ocean temperatures between January and October 2014 are the highest on record. The average surface temperature was 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.
  • NEFMC released an updated schedule of the Omnibus Habitat Amendment public hearings. The location of the December 17th meeting in Gloucester has been changed.
  • Maine’s Department of Marine Resources will be holding three informational meetings on the Omnibus Habitat Amendment. These meetings are separate from the public hearings being conducted by NEFMC, and are “intended to help inform industry members about what the proposed actions include and how they can provide input during the public comment period.”
  • Recreational fishing boat captains are concerned about the survival of their businesses given the restrictions on landing Gulf of Maine cod. Recreational fishermen are still allowed to catch other species, but many customers only want to catch cod.
  • Recreational fishermen are also expressing concern over the possibility of a 55-square mile closure area in Stellwagen Bank. The closure is being proposed as an option under the Omnibus Habitat Amendment, but fishermen say that the area is “prime fishing grounds” for Massachusetts-based charter boats.
  • President of Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Christopher Brown, says NOAA’s cod restrictions will not directly affect Rhode Island fishermen. Rhode Island fishermen target Georges Bank cod and a range of other fish species, rather than relying primarily on Gulf of Maine groundfish.
  • In hopes to avoid the incidence of illness from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Division of Marine Fisheries are tightening oyster handling guidelines. Specific topics under review include cooling and transporting shellfish, proper training, and improved enforcement.
  • The Maine 2014-15 scallop season opened Monday with record high prices. Opening day prices were around $14-15 per pound.
  • New statistics show that between 1995 and 2012 Jonah crab landings have increased five-fold in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Fishermen are unsure as to why the crab populations have exploded (many say rising ocean temperatures are one cause), but they are pleased with the economic opportunity the species has presented, especially for the lobster fishery.
  • According to a new UMass study, Atlantic bluefin tuna reach sexual maturity between three and five years old, rather than the previously thought nine years old. This new information presents “the possibility that Atlantic bluefin spawning biomass is greater than traditional stock assessments have indicated.”
  • On Wednesday, Congress reauthorized funding for the US Coast Guard 2015-16 fiscal year and included in the bill was a fishing safety training grant programs pushed for by Massachusetts Representative Bill Keating. Rep. Keating says, “These grant programs will teach basic safety skills while saving in search and rescue costs.”
  • Rhode Island DEM’s “lean initiative” was seen as a success at Monday’s Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council meeting. Rather than dragging out the process, the Council combined the usual four nights of advisory panel meetings and public hearing into one night. At this meeting, the Council voted to maintain existing regulations for commercial scup, black sea bass, monkfish, and fluke for the 2015 season.
  • The Northeast Coastal Acidification Network is hosting a stakeholder workshop on December 10 at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, ME. The workshop will provide participants the opportunity to learn about ocean and coastal acidification from fishermen, clam harvesters, aquaculturists, and coastal water quality volunteers.
  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation set the pre-proposal deadline for the fifth round of Fishery Innovation Fund grant opportunities. The grant program is “designed to foster innovation in the fishing industry in order to sustain fishermen’s livelihoods while rebuilding fish stocks.”
  • Leading Boston whole fish distributor John Nagle Co. has hired a new team of fish cutters and managers. The expansion of the 127 year old business will allow the company to offer a greater variety of fresh cut and processed seafood.
  • Allied Whale, a marine mammal research organization located at the College of the Atlantic, photographed and logged the 8,000th whale into its database. This is seen as a huge milestone for the whales and the organization since it first created the database in 1977 with only 120 individual whales.

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