In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, February 20

A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. Photo by Brian Skerry.

  • On Wednesday, NOAA Fisheries stated the alternative cod management proposal put forth by Gloucester fishing sectors in a letter by Rep. Seth Moulton “warrants further consideration.” The letter proposed a cod bargain deal for more relaxed emergency measures as well as the elimination of the 200 pound trip limit for cod and the reopening of the broad stock area closures. The letter was originally turned down during the last New England Fishery Management Council meeting because officials did not have adequate time to review the proposal.
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute is reaching out to New England colleges to carry their “responsibly harvested” label for seafood products. The labels are already seen in regional supermarkets, and now Wellesley College and UNH are the first colleges to agree to use the label. GMRI offers the label to vendors who can trace their products back to the Gulf of Maine and verify that it was “harvested in a way that contributes to the long-term health of the stock.”
  • Unusually low winter temperatures have led to a buildup of ice in Portland, Maine’s harbor—a normally ice-free port—and have limited fishing vessel activity. Some larger vessels are able to steer through the ice, but small boats are unable to leave the pier. The ice also poses a threat to marinas and docks as it rises and falls with the tide. Waterfront veterans say they have not seen the harbor conditions like this in 35 years.
  • The especially harsh, snowy winter has been difficult on Maine clam diggers. Snow banks block their pathways, and the frozen ground cuts down on dig time. Landings have dropped by about 90% in the last month according to local seafood buyers.
  • Maine lobstermen and seafood processers have benefitted from increasing lobster consumption in China over the last few years. Chinese New Year, which occurred on Thursday, is becoming Maine’s second-biggest lobster shipping week, behind Christmas. The owner of The Lobster Co. in Arundel, ME says at this time of year, she ships 100,000 pounds of lobster a week to China.
  • $8.3 million in second round federal fishery disaster aid will begin to be distributed to Massachusetts fishermen, businesses, and stakeholders in early March. Gloucester city officials, however, were caught off-guard that they would play a role in distributing the funds. The city is now working quickly to develop a distribution plan. The funds will be released in waves: the first $3.8 million to permit holders, the next $3 million to crew members, and the remaining to businesses and stakeholders.
  • Maine’s northern shrimp fishery is closed, but fishermen participating in the population sampling project can to sell some of their catch at market. Due to the scarcity, prices reached a record high, averaging $4.02 per pound.
  • NOAA Fisheries proposed expanding critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales by 600% in the area Gulf of Maine and George’s Bank region. The area would be expanded to nearly 30,000 nautical miles. The proposal does not include any new commercial fishing restrictions, but federal agencies would have to consult with NOAA Fisheries prior to planning projects. The proposal will have a 60 day comment period.

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