In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, January 16

A sea turtle entangled in a ghost net. A new Science journal paper says humans harvesters are driving evolutionary change in the ocean. Photo credit: Doug Helton/NOAA

  • This week we saw an interesting juxtaposition of two studies on the health of our oceans. The front page of the NYTimes highlighted a Science journal paper warning of “mass extinction of ocean life.” The paper states, humans are a driving force of change in the oceans as we increasingly expand our use of its resources, but we may be able to slow or even reverse the negative impacts through habitat protection and careful ecosystem-based management. And on the other side of that conversation, a Nature article on a Bioscience journal study cautioned against “ocean calamities” and called for more skepticism in marine science research.
  • Commonwealth magazine interviewed NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional Administrator, John Bullard. Mr. Bullard answers questions regarding the recent Gulf of Maine cod crisis and interim measures.
  • In a letter to John Bullard, Gloucester fishermen have offered to surrender 60 metric tons of their annual cod catch if NOAA lifts the 200-pound limit and relaxes the closed areas. A NOAA spokeswoman said they received the letter during the comment period for the interim rules and are considering the request.
  • Some lobstermen are extending their season later into the winter due to the shrimp season shutdown. A larger supply of winter lobsters may keep prices down, but other factors such as foreign demand affect winter prices as well. Also, the colder water temperatures make lobsters harder to catch.
  • Fall 2014 Gulf of Maine sea surface temperatures were unusually high according to a recent Gulf of Maine Region Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook report. The report included data from NOAA and Environment Canada. The report describes some of the effects warmer temperatures will have on marine ecosystems, as well as fisheries.
  • Maine fishermen are in favor of an ASMFC mandate reducing the allowable number of recreationally-caught striped bass. The mandate requires Atlantic states to reduce recreational striped bass catch by 25%. Striped bass catch has been in a steady decline since 2006; Maine fishermen hope the tighter regulations will help the population rebound.
  • Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs issued the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. The plan is the first amendment to the original 2009 ocean plan that must be updated every five years.
  • Provincetown Conservation Commission ordered fishermen to cease and desist hydraulic clam dredging within the town’s jurisdiction, 40 feet offshore. The town says that the dredging is prohibited without a permit and damages marine habitat. Unfortunately, the state Division of Marine Fisheries has final say and deemed the area suited for hydraulic dredging in 2007.
  • A Center for American Progress report shows that New England fishermen are concerned about climate change because it impacts their businesses and livelihoods. The report is based on a survey of 600 New England groundfish and lobster permit holders conducted by Edge Research last summer.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding six public hearings on the Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. The amendment addresses fishing gear impacts on deep sea corals.
  • The U.S. government adopted new regulations for seafood imports setting high standards for protecting whales and dolphins. Foreign fisheries now must comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, or they will be denied import rights.
  • ASMFC and NOAA Fisheries are funding two research projects on river herring populations and conservation. The first received $166,659 to study fishery impacts and identify spawning areas in New England. The second received $78,000 to study the historic and current distribution of river herring in New Jersey bays.
  • NOAA Fisheries approved Framework Adjustment 52 to the Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. Effective immediately, fishery managers are allowed to adjust accountability measures for southern and northern windowpane flounder.
  • NOAA Fisheries proposed new guidelines for National Standards 1, 3, and 7 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The purposes of these guidelines are to prevent overfishing, better manage stocks, and to minimize cost in management. The proposed guidelines will not require regional councils to revise their management plans.
  • Two new climate change studies were released this week. Harvard and Rutgers University scientists reported that sea level increased an inch less than was previously thought, five rather than six inches. Also, scientists reported that 2014 was the earth’s hottest year in recorded history.


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