In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 31

Lobster are heating up in New England. Photo Credit: Zachary Whalen/Flickr.

  • Human rights workers blame “lax maritime labor laws and an insatiable global demand for seafood” for the existence of slavery in the global fishing industry. According to the NYTimes, forced labor is especially pronounced in the Thai fishing fleet in the South China Sea. Undocumented migrants fill the annual shortage of mariners and are forced to be sea slaves. These men primarily fish for forage fish, which can end up in U.S. products such as pet food. Read more here.
  • Two Sea Shepherd vessels, the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon, chased down one of the world’s most wanted fish poachers, the Thunder, over a 110 day period. The chase took the vessels on a 10,000 nautical mile trip across two seas and three oceans until the Thunder was eventually sunk in April. According to the NYTimes global illegal fishing brings in around $10 billion annually. Some question the legality of the Sea Shepherd’s vigilantism, but due to the unpatrolled nature of the high seas, others (including the Sea Shepherd) say that it is necessary to stop notorious fish poachers from pillaging our seas.
  • Oceana sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failure to establish a proper bycatch discard monitoring system in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. The lawsuit follows-up on one that Oceana won in 2011 in response to which NMFS established a new monitoring rule, which was finalized last month. Oceana claims, however, that the new rule includes many loopholes and will not meet the necessary performance standards for observer coverage. Quality bycatch monitoring programs are necessary to assess the health of the stock, reduce overfishing, and to set fishery quotas.
  • Maine Senators King and Collins, supported by other New England senators, want to declare September 25, 2015 as National Lobster Day. The group of senators point to the role lobster has played in New England’s heritage and also that thousands of New Englanders have relied on lobster for their economic well-being.
  • The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative is targeting 2,200 restaurants between Maine and Delaware to promote and increase demand for soft-shell lobsters, or “shedders.” As part of its promotion, the Collaborative has renamed these crustaceans the “new shell lobster.” According to the Collaborative’s executive director, only four percent of the target restaurants currently offer Maine lobster. He sees this as a great marketing opportunity.
  • Deepwater Wind installed the first of five foundation components of the Block Island Wind Farm on Sunday, July 26, achieving its “steel in the water” milestone. The 400-ton steel jacket was set on the sea floor about three miles off the coast of Block Island. Construction will continue through the summer, and cable installation is expected to being in 2016. This is a historic moment for U.S. offshore wind, and the milestone was celebrated by elected officials, environmental groups, regulators, and more.
  • Omega Protein officials and recreational charter captains met Tuesday night to discuss recent conflicts over the menhaden catch. Recreational fishermen have been unhappy because of the large catches that Omega Protein hauls in. The groups say the discussion was a “good start.”
  • The Gulf of Maine Research Institute will host its next FishTank Workshop on October 20-21 in Plymouth, MA. The workshop titled: “Taking Stock: A Workshop to Collaboratively Improve Assessments” provides the opportunity for Gulf of Maine fishermen, scientists, and managers to discuss and strategize the future of fishing on a community-wide basis. Registration for FishTank opens August 1.
  • A recent study found that noise levels can reduce Atlantic cod’s egg production and fertilization rates. The study focused on enclosed, on-shore aquaculture facilities, but as noise levels in our oceans increase (off-shore development, shipping and transportation), the researchers believe that wild Atlantic cod could be similarly impacted.
  • Oceana says multiple names for a single fish species can make it difficult to combat illegal fishing and fraud. The group wants the FDA to require the only the scientific name or common name of a fish to be used in the marketplace. A recent NPR article helps the consumer understand what he or she might be eating when buying or ordering fish.
  • On Saturday, filmmaker and photographer Louie Psihoyos will illuminate the Empire State Building with images of the world’s endangered species. The art event is in support of Psihoyos’ newest documentary, Racing Extinction, and part of his movement to “save the species.” Psihoyos directed The Cove in 2009.
  • A rarely seen Sowerby’s beaked whale washed up on a beach in Plymouth last week. This 17-foot whale generally lives in the deep-sea, and marine biologists are unsure of how it died. The New England Aquarium reported that the whale sustained some injuries and that it will continue to research the individual.
  • Hosted by the Connecticut River Water Shed Council, osprey researcher Dr. Paul Spitzer will speak at Essex Library Association on August 29. He will discuss the relationship between ospreys and Atlantic menhaden, an important forage fish.
  • NOAA Fisheries announced the common pool closure of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder total allowable catch area through August 31. The closure applies to vessels using trawl and sink gillnets. The common pool fishery has caught over 90 percent of its TAC for Trimester 1. The area will reopen for Trimester 2, starting September 1.
  • NOAA Fisheries and NEFMC are seeking project proposals for 2016-2018 Atlantic Herring Research Set Aside (RSA) Program through September 21. Projects must contribute to the knowledge of the herring fishery or management processes. Proceeds from the RSA quota fund research costs and compensate fishermen who catch RSA quota.

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