In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, February 13

Blue crabs are becoming more abundant north of Cape Cod. Photo credit: Maryland DNR

  • As the city runs out of room, Boston may have to consider dumping snow into Boston Harbor or the Charles River. Dumping is not illegal, but should only be resorted to in extreme circumstances. The snow will contain lots of salt, sand, oil, and other debris that could pollute the water. The city does not need approval before dumping, but must notify the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Boston Conservation Commission.
  • A Newsweek article highlighted the impacts of climate change on New England fishing communities: the northern shrimp industry was cancelled, lobsters are molting earlier, and groundfish stocks are slow to rebuild. Fishermen and managers are aware of the issue and view climate change as a threat to the industry’s future.
  • Green crabs continue to invade New England shores, posing a threat to native species such as mussels and clams. Seafood chefs are working creatively to use the crabs in dishes, but creating a market for the critters is difficult. Cooking the crabs in a broth is one simple option, and inspired by an Italian delicacy, chefs are experimenting with soft-shell green crab.
  • A once depleted industry, Maine’s scallop population and fishermen are seeing the benefits of a new rotational management system. The new system includes a shorter season, daily catch limits, closures, and mandatory harvest reports. Scallops are also allowed two years to grow before they can be harvested. Even though scallop landings and value are increasing in Maine and fishermen there can supply a fresher product, they are still having difficulty competing with the New Bedford scallop industry, the leading port by value in the U.S.
  • Connecticut Governor Malloy approved a $1.5 million project to map the Long Island Sound seabed for important aquatic life and habitat, such as shellfish. The governor will submit the proposal in his budget next week.
  • The recent decision by NMFS to not list blueback herring as threatened under the Endangered Species Act has led environmental groups to file a complaint in federal court seeking reversal of the decision. Earthjustice and NRDC along with fishing and watershed protection groups say that blueback herring populations have declined 99% over the last fifty years due to habitat destruction and pollution. They are asking that the court order NMFS to make a new status determination within six months.
  • In previous years, Maine has set aside 5% of the elver quota to prevent overfishing, but, instead, this year the Department of Marine Resources will suspend 13 licenses as a fine for exceeding individual quota or failure to report landings. The suspensions equal about half the quota that was set aside last year.
  • The Atlantic Menhaden Management Board is considering how to proceed with stock management. Fishermen say that new science supports increasing quotas, but environmentalists urge caution. ASMFC is expected to make a decision at its May meeting.
  • program run by ASMFC and Maine’s Department of Marine Resources will collect northern shrimp samples to provide managers better information on the currently closed fishery. Data will be collected on egg hatch, size, gender, and development.
  • ASMFC is considering establishing a limited entry program for the northern shrimp fishery through what is known as the public information document. The program would put a cap on the number of licenses distributed. Managers are concerned about increased pressure on the already declining shrimp population. Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire have scheduled public hearings on document.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council postponed its decision to protect Atlantic deep-sea corals from harmful fishing practices. Council members say they are working on an agreement with fishermen to establish boundary zones, and a final decision is expected in June. The New York Times also highlighted this issue in a recent story.
  • A nationwide NOAA report shows that mussels and oysters have experienced lower occurrences of disease and parasites since 1995. The report, however, does not include all parasites and diseases that can affect shellfish.
  • Blue crabs are becoming more abundant along the North Shore coast and Plum Island. The crabs were usually never seen north of Cape Cod, but warming ocean waters have led to a population shift.

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