In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 14

Nearly three months into the fishing year, the amount of cod reported as caught is as low as 13% of the ACL. Photo credit: Brian Skerry/New England Ocean Odyssey.

  • NOAA Fisheries announced Gulf of Maine cod interim management measures and Gulf of Maine haddock emergency measures in response to the most recent stock assessment that indicated cod stocks reached their lowest level in 40 years. Effective November 13, 2014 to May 12, 2015, the measures include: rolling area closures expanding on previously closed areas, a 200lb trip limit for commercial fishermen, a ban on recreational fishing in Gulf of Maine, measures to reduce the extent of gillnet fishing, prohibition on vessels fishing in more than one Gulf of Maine management area per trip. These measures are intended to protect cod spawning activities and areas of high aggregation and to discourage fishermen from targeting cod. In an effort to offset the negative impacts of the cod measures, NOAA Fisheries doubled the Gulf of Maine haddock commercial quota from 676,812 pounds to 1.3 million pounds.
  • Andrew Rosenberg was on WBUR talking about the cod crisis and offered a firm rebuttal to those who doubt the science saying cod are at historic lows. Rosenberg directs the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists and is the former deputy director of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Some New England fishermen are complaining that the new cod regulations unfairly exempt lobstermen in the region. Cod are a known bycatch of the lobster industry, with an estimate of 177,000 codfish caught in Maine lobster traps in 2008. One Portland fisherman says “you will not be effective in protecting the spawning grounds” if lobstermen are still allowed in the closed areas. According to the article, part of the problem is that the lobster industry is state regulated while groundfish is federally regulated.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council’s November meeting is next week, November 17-20. The Council will discuss 2015 fishing year management measures. The public is invited to attend the meeting or join online.
  • The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture at the University of Maine has established a new partnership with NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center that will grant students an internship with fisheries research in the Gulf of Maine. NOAA Fisheries will provide the funding for up to five undergraduate students.
  • The Gloucester Times will run a new series next week titled “Fish Tales.” The week-long series will document the stories of local fisherman through narrative pieces and video interviews.
  • Researchers at UMass Amherst’s Gloucester Marin Research Station received a $145,694 NOAA grant to estimate Atlantic bluefin tuna populations via autonomous aerial vehicle surveys. The technology has been used previously to study killer whale populations, but this is a first for bluefin tuna.
  • Concerned scientists and stakeholders gathered at last weekend’s Wellfleet harbor conference to express the need for increased shellfish and herring management. According to marine systems ecologist John Brawley, Wellfleet shellfishermen lost over $400,000 when the fishery had to close due to a vibrio outbreak.
  • NOAA approved a transition to mail surveys, rather than the current household phone survey, to collect recreational fishing data along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The surveys will collect information on the number of angler trips and the individual catch and discard of each angler to estimate the total number of fish caught. NOAA is organizing a team to help with the transition to the new survey process and expects it to be fully implemented by 2016.
  • According to a study by the National Fisheries Institute, United States per capita seafood consumption is gradually decreasing. In 2013, the average American ate 14.5 pounds of seafood compared to 16.5 pounds in 2006. The top five seafood consumed in the U.S. are shrimp, salmon, canned tuna, tilapia, and Alaska Pollock.
  • The Cape Cod Fish Share is struggling to stay open. The program has been unable to provide its subscribers with fish and owes up to $12,000. David Hency, who began the business in 2011, has not given up and hopes to repay his subscribers once the business gets going again.
  • Last weekend, the Massachusetts Audubon Society rescued nine Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Cape Cod Bay. The turtles are recovering at the New England Aquarium.
  • A Providence Journal article addresses how the recent midterm elections may affect fisheries in Rhode Island and in the United States, and states that “We need our Rhode Island Congressional delegation to remain strong for conservation.” Fish that are of particular importance to RI are cod, black sea bass, bluefish, striped bass, and tautog.
  • A new Smithsonian study found that the occurrence dead zones has doubled since the 1950s and predicts that climate change will only create more. According to the report, “coastal dead zones will be exacerbated by warming waters, rising sea levels, and the wind, rain, and storm patterns associated with global warming.” The increased dead zones are likely to affect the 40% of the world population that lives in coastal areas and those who rely on ocean resources.
  • According to a report from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the summer portion of the year in the Gulf of Maine region will increase by about two months. The resulting increased water temperatures will significantly impact marine organisms, such as lobster and migrating fish populations.  .
  • Ocean lovers gathered last week for the annual Blue Ocean Film Festival. Marine sanctuaries as a means for ocean conservation were a big topic at this year’s festival. The festival “is an epicenter of the ocean conservation dialogue that grows in strength with each succeeding year.”
  • On Thursday, NOAA established a new Ocean Exploration Advisory Board. The board “will advise NOAA on priority areas for exploration, investments in new technologies, and a strategic plan for greater understanding of our planet’s last frontier,” said NOAA chief scientist Richard Spinrad, PhD.
  • Under a new rule issued by the United States Coast Guard, oceangoing cargo ships are required to treat their ballast water with ultraviolet light and other chemicals prior to dumping in U.S. waters. The rule, the first ever requiring onboard treatment of ballast water, was issued in order to reduce the risk of invasive species.
  • Global Fishing Watch is a new technology developed by Google and SkyTruth programmers that allows public users to track fishing boats worldwide. Marine-advocacy group Oceana hopes that the technology can be used to better monitor illegal fishing.

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