In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, January 31

Barnstable police say they have identified the culprit in last summer's string of oyster farm robberies. Photo credit: Chefs Collaborative

  • The New England Fishery Management Council met this week in Portsmouth, NH. Much of the first day of discussion focused on the Council’s perspectives on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, following up on Executive Director Tom Nies’ letter regarding the first House discussion draft of a reauthorization bill. The Council called for increased flexibility in rebuilding timelines and discussed provisions that would support electronic monitoring but limit the usefulness of these data for enforcement, management evaluation, and marine spatial planning. The Closed Area Technical Team also provided updates on the development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Omnibus Habitat Amendment, but no action was taken. On Wednesday and Thursday, topics included catch limits for spiny dogfish and scallops, the development of measures to encourage fleet diversity, and an Omnibus Amendment for Industry-Funding Monitoring.
  • A casting call went out this week for lobstermen to appear in a proposed reality TV show on coastal lobster fishing in Maine state waters. A producer told the Portland Press-Herald they have already spoken to dozens of fishermen. The show would follow other recent reality shows on Gloucester tuna fishermen (“Wicked Tuna”) and Maine’s elver fishery (“Cold River Cash”).
  • A new study on North Sea groundfish and herring shows a link between rising sea temperatures and declining fish size. Over a 38-year period, maximum body length of haddock, whiting, herring, pout, and plaice decreased by up to 29%. Since the same decrease could be observed across species with different diets and levels of fishing mortality, scientists linked it to one common factor all species experienced—a rise in sea temperature of one to two degrees Celsius. The researchers say that warmer water leads to a higher metabolic rate for juvenile fish, which results in earlier maturity at a smaller size. Cod, notably, did not conform to this pattern, and sole experienced only a slight decrease in length.
  • Barnstable police say they have identified the culprit in a string of oyster farm robberies last summer. Several oyster farms in Barnstable and Dennis were hit by the left of over $40,000 in oysters and equipment. Police say a tip led to their catching the guilty party red-handed. They have not yet made an arrest but expect to do so within weeks after a grand jury considers the charges.
  • The State of Maine and the Passamaquoddy tribe are approaching an agreement on management of the elver fishery. During a Marine Resources Committee meeting on Wednesday, officials announced an agreement that would limit tribal fishermen to a 1,650 pound harvest, limit fishermen to dip nets rather than fyke nets, and would require them to use electronic swipe cards when selling their catch. Though both the Committee and tribal representatives supported the deal, it was tabled due to constitutionality concerns regarding equal protection. The elver season opens in March.
  • A new study published this week recommends an integrated, multifaceted approach to ecosystem-based fisheries management. Using a formal framework to evaluate EBFM strategies in southeastern Australian fisheries, the authors find that a combination of quotas, spatial management, and gear controls was most effective in improving the ecological and economic performance of the fishery.
  • Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September suggests that depletion of fish stocks due to overfishing can be predicted decades in advance. In multispecies fisheries, vulnerability can be calculated based on how a species’ growth rate is affected by fishing effort. Species with higher vulnerability than the key species in the multispecies complex are likely to be depleted, since the fishery can continue to be profitable through catching the key species even as fishing effort reduces the levels of more vulnerable species. The researchers tested their methods on eight Pacific tuna and billfish populations and found that this index could predict the depletion of species several decades in advance.
  • Former NEFMC Chair Rip Cunningham wrote a piece for Reel-Time.com recommending caution in fishing species lower in the marine food chain. Cunningham points to increased fishing pressure on species like sea cucumbers, sand lance, and rockweed, which provide important food or habitat for other marine life, and recommends careful monitoring and management to protect the base of the food web.
  • Maine lawmaker Walter Kumiega has introduced legislation to ban two common pesticides to protect Maine’s lobster populations. Methoprene and resmethrin were both found in the tissue of dead lobsters in Long Island Sound in the 1990s, and many have connected declining lobster numbers in Connecticut and New York to the use of these chemicals to control mosquitoes. Kumiega says he believes the pesticides are used sparsely in Maine and there should be little opposition to banning their use, but that the law is necessary to prevent future damage to Maine’s valuable lobster fishery.

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