In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 7

Northern shrimp remain at low biomass levels, a result of increased ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine. Photo credit: NOAA

  • The New England Fishery Management Council released the dates and locations for Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 public hearings. The public is encouraged to attend these hearings and submit comments. All written comments (sent to John Bullard) must be received before 5pm on January 8, 2015. For more information on the amendment, visit the NEFMC website.
  • In Tuesday’s election, 59.2% of Maine voters approved ballot question 7, Maine Marine Businesses Bond Issue. Moving forward, $7 million in bonds will be issued to grow Maine’s marine businesses.
  • A Seafoodnews.com article features the promising start to the commercial scallop season on Martha’s Vineyard. The Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group’s hatchery and nursery program has helped keep the declining industry alive by providing seed (young scallops). Also, efforts to reduce nitrogen runoff have been crucial in preserving eel grass beds, an important scallop habitat.
  • ASMFC cancelled the 2015 Gulf of Maine shrimp season for the second consecutive year. The decision came after a dramatic population decrease from 2011 to 2013 resulting in the lowest fishable biomass on record.  Scientists partly attribute this to rising ocean temperatures and a decline in phytoplankton abundance.
  • ASMFC released the summary document of its 73rd Annual Meeting that took place in Mystic, CT October 27-30, 2014. The document includes meeting summaries, press releases, and motions.
  • The ASMFC Spiny Dogfish Management Board approved an addendum to ensure spiny dogfish management is consistent with the Shark Conservation Act of 2010. This includes prohibiting at-sea processing and fin removal. Smooth dogfish now remain the only shark species that can be legally finned at-sea in the United States.
  • ASMFC awarded the Captain David H. Hart Award to Mr. Patrick Augustine, ASMFC Commissioner from New York and a fisheries advocate. The award is given to “individuals who have made outstanding efforts to improve Atlantic coast marine fisheries.”
  • NOAA Fisheries is proposing changes to its Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan as requested by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The Massachusetts Bay fishery closure, intended to help reduce the occurrence of whale entanglements, is likely to be delayed one month, starting on February 1, rather than January 1. The size of the closure area, however, will be increased. According to Regional Administrator John Bullard, these changes “would provide virtually the same conservation benefit as the planned closure but with less adverse economic impact on the commercial fishing industry.”
  • The Connecticut Sea Grant College Program is funding three new research projects that will benefit coastal communities and economies. The projects will focus on “a better understanding of the potential benefits of wetland ecosystem restoration, more sustainable resources for recreational anglers, and safer seafood for producers and consumers.” Researchers hope that the results will better assist in the management of more sustainable fisheries.
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) received a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study climate change impacts on Buzzards Bay, specifically sea level rise and water quality issues. WHOI says the study’s methods will be applicable to communities and fishing industries all along the coast.
  • The latest fishing industry newsletter from Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) comments on the importance of data in fisheries management. Proper fisheries management results in ever changing management plans and regulations, which means fisheries data must be constantly updated. GMRI specifies two essential aspects of proper fisheries data collection: a comprehensive reporting system and effective at-sea monitoring.
  • The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project developed an interactive, web-based dashboard for analyzing ecological, economic, and social trends in the Northeast groundfish fishery. The dashboard provides charts, graphs, and narratives representing data from 2002 and will be updated until 2016. The catch share program was implemented in the northeast in 2010, and the project hopes to address the effects of the program on the Northeast groundfish fishery.
  • On November 18 in Portland, ME, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute will be hosting an informal presentation and discussion, “Resiliency in Fisheries: Why Ecology Matters,” about fish population structure and dynamics in the Gulf of Maine.
  • The International Seafood Sustainability Fund (ISSF) is calling for 100% observer coverage in the tuna purse seine fishery. ISSF claims “ICCAT is currently behind the curve on observer coverage.” ICCAT is meeting next week to address the current state of the Atlantic bluefin tuna population.
  • Omega Protein Corporation released its first corporate sustainability report. The report will be used to establish a benchmark for the company on issues such as fishing, energy and water usage, and community involvement efforts.

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