In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 19

The highest peak of Cashes Ledge, Ammen Rock, rises to within 40 feet of the ocean surface and harbors the deepest and largest cold-water kelp forest on the Atlantic seaboard. Photo credit: Brian Skerry / New England Ocean Odyssey

  • The New England Fishery Management Council finalized its vote on the Omnibus Habitat Amendment, drastically cutting ocean habitat protection in New England by 60 percent. “The Council took one step forward by setting habitat protections in Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine, but took two steps back by removing protections of the Western Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank,” said Greg Cunningham of Conservation Law Foundation. Environmental groups have heavily criticized the Council for placing short-term economic interests before long-term ocean health, and even Council members, such as David Preble, expressed their discontent with the final outcome of the “habitat amendment.” The Amendment now awaits approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries).
  • NEFMC voted to send to NOAA a request for emergency action to suspend the at-sea monitoring program for the New England groundfish fishery. The cost of the program is expected to fall on the industry in August, and many are worried they cannot afford the additional cost.
  • The possession limit of Gulf of Maine cod by common pool fishing vessels has been reduced to zero for the remainder the 2015 season. NOAA Fisheries announced the new limit on Monday in order to prevent an overage of the allowable quota. Trips declared prior to June 15, 2015 are not subject to the new rule.
  • New England lobster prices are up as the summer seasons kicks off to a slow start. Supply is low because the lobsters have not shed their shells and have yet to reach legal harvesting size, say local lobstermen. So far, lobsters are selling in the $6-8 per pound range, $1-2 higher than last year.
  • A Bangor Daily News opinion article, co-authored by a local lobsterman and marine scientist, highlights the importance of understanding and combating the effects of ocean acidification. Maine’s shellfish and aquaculture industry are valued over $1 billion annually, but rising ocean acidity levels threaten the species and coastal industries. At the start of the year, Maine’s Ocean Acidification Commission submitted a bond proposal that would help set up monitoring buoys to track ocean chemistry and determine point sources for ocean acidification.
  • Lobstermen and environmentalists are concerned about the proposed Searsport Harbor dredging project in Portland, ME. The project, proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers, would produce an estimated 937,000 cubic yards of dredge material. Opponents of the project are worried about material contamination and its possible negative impact on lobster and crab fishing. Those in favor of the project speak to its economic benefits and the need to accommodate larger ships.
  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission withdrew its draft amendment to the Atlantic herring fishery management plan. The amendment would have addressed spawning protections for the fishery, but managers said they were concerned about potential impact on the industry.
  • The Sustainable Swordfish LLC U.S. North Atlantic swordfish longline fishery received Marine Stewardship Council certification as sustainable and well-managed. The fishery operates all along the U.S. east coast and is open year round. The fish are most often sold to restaurants and retail markets.
  • Scientists will perform a necropsy of a 35-foot long, 11-year old humpback whale named Spinnaker. The whale had a history of becoming entangled in fishing gear, and researchers hope to learn more about how entanglement could have affected her.
  • Paul Greenberg, author of “American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood,” shares his simple rules for eating seafood…in poem form: “Eat American Seafood/A much greater variety than we currently do/Mostly farmed filter feeders/Some explanation are in order.” You can read his explanations here.

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