In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 31

  • NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard said emergency measures for Gulf of Maine cod, including rolling area and spawning closures, can be expected for mid-November. While, addressing the cod crisis is necessary, Bullard acknowledged the fact that emergency measures will likely have a “disproportionate impact” on ports such as Gloucester, Scituate, and Portsmouth.

o   New Bedford’s sea scallop fishery secured the port’s spot as the most valuable in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year. The port landed 130 million pounds, valued at $379 millions.

o   Gloucester lost greater than 25% of both its landing volume and catch, ranking the port at 22nd in quantity and 25th in revenue.

o   New England cod experienced a 50% decline in both landings and revenue.

o   Maine lobster, valued at $460 million, was ranked fifth for value among national fisheries.

o   Portland, ME equaled Gloucester, MA landings, but both ports remain in trouble.

  • A conversation about New England fisheries made for an emotional Massachusetts gubernatorial debate on Tuesday. Republican nominee Charlie Baker recalled an encounter with a fishermen and his two sons, and argued that the state needs to do more to help its fisherman rather than relying on federal fisheries assessments. Democratic nominee Martha Coakley also commented on the “unfair” nature of federal regulations that create difficult economic situations for fishermen and their families. She did, however, later question the authenticity of Baker’s story.
  • As part of an effort to replenish shellfish beds, the Town of Dartmouth planted 40,000 quahog seeds in the inner and outer harbor of Apponagansett Bay. The town was fortunate to procure the seed last minute from a private aquaculture business after storms damaged much of the existing seed earlier in the season. The quahogs—the number one commercially-harvested shellfish in the area—have time to settle in for the winter, and should be ready to harvest at a within two to three years, says Dartmouth Harbormaster Steve Melo.
  • NEMC announced its 2014-2015 member elections. Terry Stockwell and Dr. John Quinn have been re-elected as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively. Peter Kendall, Doug Grout, and Dr. David Pierce were also elected to serve on the Council’s Executive Committee for another term.
  • NEFMC released the meeting agenda for its November 17-20, 2014 meeting. The meeting is located at the Marriott Hotel, 25 America’s Cup Boulevard, Newport RI 02840.NEFMC must receive submitted comments for consideration at the meeting by Wednesday, November 12 at 12:30pm.
  • Warming ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are making scientists wary about a second straight season for northern shrimp. According to fishery regulators, the northern shrimp population has decreased by a factor of 14. A technical committee advised ASMFC to extend the current moratorium into next year, pointing to “long term trends in environmental conditions [that] are unfavorable for the shrimp.” ASMFC is expected to vote on the issue next week.
  • ASMFC set Maine’s 2015 elver quota at 9,688 pounds, a 2,000 pound reduction from this year. Maine’s elver fishery is its second most valuable fishery, earning $32.9 million in 2013, and is the only sizable elver fishery on the east coast. The new quota matches the amount of elvers harvested over the last season.
  • In response to increasing fishing pressure, ASMFC’s American Lobster Management Board approved an Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Jonah crab. Jonah crab has only been considered bycatch in the lobster fishery, but increased demand for the crabs has raised concerns about its sustainability. The Board also began drafting Addendum XXIV to Amendment 3 of the Interstate FMP for American Lobster which will attempt to improve lobster management between the state and federal levels.
  • A new fish bypass opened on Connecticut’s Naugatuck River. Migratory fish, such as shad, herring, trout, and eel, will now have access to the upper waters of the river for the first time. This is one important step in a long recovery process. As fisheries biologist for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Steve Gephard, said “People have to remember that this river was terribly degraded over the course of100 years. It’s not going to come back overnight.”
  • The Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education, an active research institute for the aquaculture industry located in Beals, ME, received a $2 million grant. DEI officials stated, “The grant will allow DEI to expand research opportunities…to create new opportunities for marine business incubation, and to increase the scope of existing educational programs with K-12 schools.”
  • Massachusetts has applied for $8.3 million in federal funds for the phase two of federal fishery disaster aid. The second phase will focus largely on increasing assistance to permit holders and crew members who did not meet the initial phase criteria.
  • The price of live, select-sized New England lobster fell 10% ($0.75 per pound) compared to last week due to a surge in larger-sized lobster landings from the Bay of Fundy. Most select-sized lobsters have gone straight to market, rather than to processors whom are unwilling to pay the higher boat prices. Processors and live lobster buyers are waiting it out until the larger November openings.
  • A Portland Press Herald article comments on the difficulty of securing a long-term workforce for the Maine lobster processing industry. Even though the jobs often pay more than minimum wage, the working conditions can be uncomfortable and schedules erratic. Also, most jobs are only seasonal. 46% of Maine lobsters go to Canada for processing. Maine’s economy could greatly benefit from increased lobster processing, however, “to reap that economic opportunity, the lobster processors must find a way to overcome the lack of workers.”
  • In a letter to the Boston Globe, Hingham resident, Jay Sadlon, points to what he calls the “glaring omission” of the mackerel fishery in New England fisheries management. He says that he has personally noted the decline of mackerel in New England waters and calls for an effort to revive the fishery.
  • A judge order Joe’s Lobster Mart owner, Joseph Vaudo, to sell off all lobster, fish, and other stock before closing. The judge’s decision came after “Vaudo and his attorney failed to demonstrate a likelihood they would be successful in appealing the state’s ruling to revoke the licenses.”
  • The Island Institute video, “A Climate of Change: Collapse and Adaptation in the Apalachicola Oyster Fishery,” documents the successes and struggles of Apalachicola, Florida oysters. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and years of combating climate change, in September 2014 Florida invested $4.5 million in oyster bed restoration. The Maine lobster industry is doing well now, but warming ocean temperatures are threatening its success. The Island Institute hopes that Maine will be able learn from Apalachicola, and properly address climate change issues so the lobster industry can continue to thrive.

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