In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 17

Research shows that many leatherback turtles spend much of the summer in coastal Cape Cod waters, where they are vulnerable to boat strikes and entanglements. Photo: Brian Skerry/New England Ocean Odyssey.

  • An AP article on Atlantic herring catches in New England was widely circulated this week. The article addressed concerns over the industry’s massive herring catches and its effects on the ocean ecosystem. Atlantic herring are a forage fish species that play a critical role in balancing the entire ecosystem. The article emphasized the need for ecosystem-based fisheries management, and Peter Baker (The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Herring Alliance) told AP that the herring fishery needs closer monitoring.
  • NOAA Fisheries denied a request to ban cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine. The petition to close the fishery until the population recovered was submitted by a group of environmental organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace. NOAA, in response, said that the current restrictions on cod fishing are sufficient.
  • NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center will host outreach meetings for fishermen regarding the upcoming stock assessment for 20 Northeast groundfish stocks. The meetings will be held next week on Wednesday, July 22 in Portland, Gloucester, Woods Hole and New Bedford.
  • Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries developed a plan for distributing $3 million in the second phase of federal fishery disaster aid to eligible groundfish crew members, dock workers, and operators. 525 out of the 601 Massachusetts-based crew members who applied for aid are eligible. The payments to be received every Friday will range from $1,209 to $10,080 per year. 120 applicants will receive the maximum $10,080.
  • Calls to lobstermen to schedule observer trips on boats have decreased. NOAA hosted a meeting in Gloucester last month outlining its plans for observer coverage, at which many lobstermen expressed their opposition to the new plans. NOAA Fisheries officials said that the expanded coverage will focus on lobstermen who hold both state and federal access permits.
  • Four new shark-detecting buoys were installed off the coast of Duxbury and Plymouth, MA. The buoys will track tagged sharks that swim within 200-yards of the buoy, and Mass Division of Marine Fisheries scientists will download the data every few weeks. Greg Skomal told the Boston Globe, “We’re trying to get a sense of local movements of white sharks and their behaviors for the purpose of public safety.” Shark tracking buoys have been used off Cape Cod since 2010.
  • It was a very rare sight on Monday when a juvenile great white shark became beached on a Chatham beach. Beachgoers threw buckets of water on the shark to keep it wet until state officials arrived to safely return it to the water, but not before attaching an acoustic tag. The tag will allow scientists to track the shark’s movements. Unfortunately, scientists say that the shark was likely injured.
  • The Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement Response team successfully disentangled a humpback whale on Stellwagen Bank. The animal had become essentially immobilized by fishing gear, and had suffered bites from a 15-foot great white shark. The whale quickly swam away once freed. Please report any entanglement sightings to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline or the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Boaters and beachgoers should be aware of migrating leatherback turtles, says the New England Aquarium. Leatherback sea turtles, capable of growing up to 850 pounds and 8 feet long, migrate up past Cape Cod during July and August and can become beached or entangled in fishing gear. If you see a distressed sea turtle, the best way to help is to call the Coast Guard.
  • A Maine fishing crew hauled up a 3-foot long, 20-pound lobster while fishing in the Gulf of Maine. The lobster was caught in late May, but made waves when deckhand Ricky Louis Felice Jr. posted a photo of the crustacean to his Facebook page on Monday. Lobster scientists estimate it to be between 25 to 50 years old.
  • The Chicopee, MA school district is the first in the state to join the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s seafood certification system. Students in the district will be able to eat responsibly harvested and traceable local seafood.
  • According to a NOAA Fisheries survey of 3,500 independent, small businesses, bait and tackle retailers added $2.3 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013. The industry also supports nearly 16,000 jobs nationwide. This was the first economic survey of its kind and was based on the most recent available data.
  • The American Meteorological Society released the State of the Climate in 2014 report concluding that 2014 was Earth’s warmest year on record, on land and sea. According to the report, 2014 sea surface temperatures, global ocean heat content, and global sea level were all record highs. 413 scientists from 58 countries contributed to the report.

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