In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 24

Mercury levels in bluefish have decreased 43% in the last forty years. Image via mass.gov

  • A new study published this month reports that mercury levels in adult bluefish collected off North Carolina have decreased 43 percent in forty years. Mercury from power plant emissions is released into the atmosphere and deposited into the oceans, but tighter federal restrictions on coal emissions have decreased the levels of mercury present in the environment. The positive effects on the marine environment have occurred much more quickly than scientists expected.
  • NOAA awarded a $264,516 grant for an inshore trawl survey, a joint project between Maine’s Department of Marine Resources, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and commercial fishermen. The survey, conducted twice a year (spring and fall), collects data on groundfish and lobster populations in the inshore Gulf of Maine.
  • A new study published in nature examines different human pressures on the ocean and concluded that stressors from climate change are the driver behind most impacts on the ocean. According to the global study, nearly 66% of the ocean has experience an increase in human impact over the last five years, and 5% of the ocean is heavily impacted with increasing pressures.
  • NEFMC and NOAA Fisheries published for public comment the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 18 is intended to promote fleet diversity and enhance sector management. The Council will hold five public meetings on the Amendment throughout August, as well as a webinar. The comment period is open until August 31, 2015.
  • Recreational fishermen and charter boat captains are unsatisfied with the current cod catch limits. They are claiming the strict regulations have forced trips to be cancelled, boats to be sold, and put some out of business. NOAA will conduct cod and groundfish stock assessments at the end of summer.
  • The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) held industry outreach meetings on Wednesday regarding the upcoming assessment of 20 commercial stocks. NEFSC summarized its process and timeline for the assessments and addressed how fishermen observations will be incorporated.
  • A minke whale carcass washed up on the shore of Straitsmouth Island in Rockport, MA last weekend. Rockport’s harbormaster alerted NOAA, who said they do not have any plans to retrieve the whale.
  • Herring runs this year have shown mixed results. While some rivers have seen record numbers of migrating herring, blueback, and alewife populations, others are seeing dramatic decreases from previous years. Officials are attributing the successful herring runs, such as on the Mystic River, to recent restoration efforts. It’s more difficult, however, to determine why herring are not returning to other areas, such as the Buckeye Brook in Rhode Island.
  • The environmental group Riverkeeper petitioned NMFS to study the impact of Tappan Zee Bridge construction on Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon populations. Riverkeeper claims that the numerous boats involved in the $3.9 billion project have led to increased mortality rates of these endangered fish. NMFS said they are looking into the matter.
  • Oceana launched a campaign to mandate “one name for one fish” on U.S. products, menus, and packing. The current FDA rule causes confusion for consumers about fish source and type, claims Oceana, because it only requires the market name to be used on “consumer-facing” labels. Oceana wants to use scientific names in place of market names.
  • An op-ed in the New York Times this week addressed the impact of ocean acidification on oyster populations. Ocean acidification is an issue affecting all coastal communities, especially those reliant on strong shellfish populations. The author stresses the importance of understanding and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification now more than ever.
  • It is a “sea scallop bonanza” off the coast of New Jersey. A recent NOAA survey estimated 10 billion scallops in a 1,500 square mile area called Elephant Trunk. Most of the scallops are young though and will not reach market size in time to help this year’s scallop harvest, which has fallen short of industry expectations.
  • The final agenda and meeting materials for ASMFC 2015 summer meeting are now available. The meeting will be held Aug 4-6 in Alexandria, VA.
  • A brewery in Maine has brought beer to a whole new level. Portland’s Oxbow Brewing Company has created a limited edition brew that is made with live lobsters and sea salt. Brewmaster Tim Adams told AP that “the lobsters add a subtle brininess and sweetness that lobster fans will recognize.”

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