In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 21

Photo credit: Joachim S. Mueller.

  • The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) cut the Gulf of Maine cod quota to 386 metric tons for the 2015 fishing year, a 75% reduction from the current 1,550 metric ton quota. This decision adds onto the interim measures set by NOAA last week, which did not include any quota cut, and will come into effect in May 2015.
  • NEFMC voted 14-1 to reject a ban on lobster gear in Gulf of Maine cod closure areas saying that there is not enough data to support such a ban. Lobster traps will continue to be allowed in closure areas during the 2015 fishing year. Lobstermen had been pulled into the cod stock debate as fishermen complained about cod bycatch in lobster traps.
  • The Environmental Defense Fun (EDF) is calling for 100% monitoring of New England groundfish boats. Monitoring will allow managers to better understand what species are being caught and how much, as well as the discard amount. EDF is also developing strategies for fishermen to avoid cod and is calling for more focus on climate change implications for New England fisheries.
  • The new cod restrictions will likely make local cod more expensive, which will have to compete with the steady supply of Icelandic and Norwegian cod. Local fish sellers will have to stress that freshly caught cod is worth the higher price, says executive director of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Ben Martens. But given the current cod crisis, perhaps we should be dissuading people from eating local cod.
  • Governor-elect Charlie Baker continues to voice support for Massachusetts fishermen. Baker questions the science and research behind the federal cod stock assessment and says that the state needs to do more to support its own industry.
  • Worries are rising that tourism may replace Gloucester’s fishing industry, a shift that locals have long resisted. Massachusetts declared Designated Port Areas in Gloucester in 1978 in an effort to protect working water fronts, but construction began last Friday on a new hotel just outside the Designated Port Area. In the wake of the new cod closures and quote cuts, fishermen are worried that tourist-related development will take away from the infrastructure needed to rebuild the fishing industry.
  • NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on the Multispecies Framework 52 Proposed Rule, which “would enable fishery managers to adjust accountability measures put in place if annual catch limits are exceeded for southern and northern windowpane flounder.”
  • NOAA Fisheries proposed a handful of new specifications for the 2015 fishing year. The specifications include a butterfish quota increase, a mackerel quota decrease, no adjustment of the current longfish and ilex squid quota, and a cap on river herring and shad catch in the mackerel fishery.
  • NEFMC voted to expand two scallop area closures in the Northeast Atlantic. The closure will have short-term economic impacts, but are predicted to payoff in the long-term. The closures are expected to reopen in 2017.
  • ICCAT agreed to increase the Atlantic bluefin tuna quota by 20% over the next two years. The western Atlantic bluefin tuna population quota was increased by 14% to 2,000 metric tons. Some are concerned that these increases are too drastic and will hurt the still recovering tuna populations.
  • New England seafood suppliers are short on product due to the second-straight shrimp moratorium. Maine regulators closed the shrimp fishery on November 5 because of record-low population numbers.
  • Maine fishermen hope that a million dollar renovation of the Portland Fish Exchange, the state’s only live seafood auction, can boost the fishing industry. 95% of Maine’s groundfish go through the auction, but as the groundfish industry declined, so did the fish exchange. General Manager, Bert Jongerden, hopes that the “the improvements can help the fish exchange weather a difficult period in the industry.”
  • A UMass Amherst PhD student is tagging and tracking individual river herring in order to study the effects that culverts and tidal gates have on fish when migrating upriver. Early data suggests that tidal gates impact bluebacks more than alewives.
  • Oyster restoration in Great Bay and surrounding estuarine rivers is thriving thanks to the community-based Oyster Conservationist program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. A total of 4.5 acres of oyster bed in Great Bay have been restored.
  • Acadia Harvest Incorporated and the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research have partnered to develop a yellowtail aquaculture business. Still in the development phase, the company currently has 16,000 young fish that it will grow to market size.
  • The Northeast Eel Aquaculture Team gathered at the University of New England to discuss the possibility of domestic eel aquaculture as an alternative to overseas production. Eel aquaculture would greatly benefit marine jobs and revenue in Maine and New England, as well as help restore wild populations.
  • The Providence Public Library has a new exhibition of whaling artwork from the 19th century. The paintings are from the 1842-1845 logbook of a New England whaling ship.


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