In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 14

Massachusetts has cut daily limits and reduced fishing days for striped bass this year. (Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • A chemical in horseshoe crab blood is used to test every FDA-approved drug and many medical devices for bacterial contamination. Coagulogen forms a gel-like substance in the presence of bacterial endotoxins, providing a quick and cost-effective test. The necessity of this procedure, however, has created high demand for horseshoe crab blood. The procedure to harvest blood kills between 10 and 30 percent of collected crabs, and populations are already depleted due to a history of fishing the crabs for fertilizer and bait. Now new research suggests that even crabs that survive the procedure may be slower and behave differently, affecting their ability to spawn. Biomedical companies and scientists are working on creating synthetic versions of the endotoxin-detecting chemical.
  • Recreational fishermen are working to change the management of recreational fishing in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Groups like the Center for Coastal Conservation and the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management are trying to incorporate language that applies specifically to recreational fisheries into the reauthorization, distinguishing recreational fisheries management from commercial fisheries management in catch limits and conservation measures. The Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management recently released a report, “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” outlining their hopes for the reauthorization process.
  • Massachusetts has cut commercial striped bass limits for this year’s season. Regulators have halved the daily limit for stripers to 15 fish and have limited fishing to Mondays and Thursdays. The move is intended to lengthen the striped bass season, which ends when an overall limit is met; for the last two years, the season has lasted just 16 days as fishermen quickly reach the limit by targeting an aggregation of striped bass off Chatham. The opening of the season was also moved up to June 23 from July 12.
  • Maine’s new Lobster Marketing Collaborative has joined forces with the Culinary Institute of America to promote Maine lobster through digital and social media channels. The campaign will include the development of lobster recipes and tutorial videos, as well as an online course on cooking with lobster. The Collaborative was created last year and has a budget of $750,000 this year, which will increase to well over $2 million by 2017.
  • A Boston Globe piece highlights Boston seafood dealer Red’s Best, which was also recently featured on Talking Fish. Red’s Best, located on the Boston Fish Pier, uses innovative software to track the source of its seafood from boat to consumer. This method helps promote local seafood, provide consumers with reliable information, and improve prices to the fisherman. Similarly, Open Ocean Trading, based in Plymouth, is an innovative online seafood marketplace that helps fishermen ensure good prices and strong sales and provides buyers with information about the availability of local seafood. Experts say New England fisheries are ripe for this sort of innovation as consumers demand local, traceable seafood.
  • The Maine Department of Marine Resources has announced a closure of Maine’s smelt fishery along the southern half of the state’s coastline, beginning March 14 and lasting 90 days. The closure is in response to a decline in smelt populations, with the state reporting that 50 percent of surveyed spawning sites have experienced severe reductions in smelt numbers since the 1970s. Smelt are an anadromous fish, meaning they return to coastal rivers to spawn. The closure will cover the majority of this spawning period and stretch from Stonington to the New Hampshire border.
  • A report commissioned from the UMass Boston Urban Harbor Institute by the Gloucester Fisheries Commission says 210 commercial vessels currently berth in Gloucester’s inner harbor. The Gloucester Daily Times also reports that between the release of the first draft last spring and the release of the final draft in late February, this number declined by 12-15 vessels and five berths became available at the Jodrey Fish Pier, although the operators of  the pier dispute that assertion. The report also states the cost of berthing a 40-foot vessel in the harbor ranges from $1800 to $6600 per season, that most commercial vessels docked in Gloucester are under 45 feet in length, and that lobster boats make up the majority of Gloucester’s fleet.
  • Commercial fishermen Richie Canastra, Vito Giacalone, and Jimmy Odlin wrote to the Boston Globe this week to promote proposals they say will help fishermen catch more of their haddock allocation. The fishermen note that between 2004 and 2011, US haddock fishermen landed an average of 11 percent of their quota, while Canadian fishermen have been more successful fishing the same stock. They say minimum size requirements, minimum mesh sizes, and habitat closed areas are preventing fishermen from catching haddock, providing “one example of how current regulations are failing our fishermen.” 

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