In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 26

Cape Cod's first great white shark of the season was spotted on Monday. Image via mass.gov

  • NOAA Regional Administrator John Bullard suggested the possibility of using the remaining third bin of New England’s federal fishery disaster aid to pay for the at-sea monitoring for the remainder of the 2015 fishing season. The industry is schedule to begin paying for the monitoring program, a total of about $2.5 million, in August. New England states have about $10 million of disaster funds left. Fishermen have voiced their opposition to this, stating that the funds, which were originally slated for a permit buyback and boat buyout program, belong to the fishing industry, not NOAA.
  • A new paper “Demographic effects of full versus partial protection from harvesting: inferences from an empirical before-after control impact study on Atlantic cod,” looks at partially protected areas for cod in Norway, which are roughly similar to the groundfish closures in New England. The paper concluded that partial protection can lower fish mortality and increase spillover into nearby open areas. The authors also stated that their “results underscore the urgency of effective management measures such as no-take zones in areas where local populations are particularly reduced or in dire need of demographic rescue.”
  • New research from the University of Maine discovered a unique relationship between Atlantic bluefin tuna foraging and Atlantic herring abundance. Atlantic herring populations are on the rise in the Gulf of Maine, but their body sizes are decreasing. This means tuna would need to catch more fish in order to reach the necessary caloric intake, therefore expending more energy – an unsuitable tradeoff. As a result, bluefin tuna populations are relocating further offshore where Atlantic herring are larger.
  • Alewives’ numbers have reached their biggest in nearly twenty years. As of Tuesday, 88,685 fish entered the St. Croix River via a fishway at the Milltown dam in New Brunswick. Conservationists say the increase in fish is due to the opening of a lower section of the river in 2008, and we should expect to see an even greater increase in future years.
  • Maine’s elver season ended on May 31, and despite a lower volume of landings, the 2015 elver catch was valued nearly $3 million higher than the 2014 catch. This year’s season landed 5,242 pounds valued at $11,389,864 compared to the 2014 season’s 9,688 pounds valued at $8,474,302. Fishery regulators were able to track the elver fishery with real time data on landings and value using the new swipe card system implemented last season.
  • The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill that would provide FY2016 funding for NOAA. The bill would provide NOAA Fisheries with $830.5 million and mandates that the money not be used for administrative expenses, but rather research, stock assessments, monitoring efforts, and similar work. The bill now awaits a full Senate vote. The House approved its own version of the bill earlier this month.
  • Connecticut and New York Senators are co-sponsoring a bill to protect and restore Long Island Sound. Building on legislation passed in 2006, the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act would provide $40 million and $25 million per year through 2020 in funding for two water quality and shore restoration programs, respectively. Long Island Sound provides billions of dollars each year, but excess runoff nutrients threaten water quality and ecosystem health.
  • As more and more Jonah crabs are being caught in New England lobster traps, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is developing management regulations for the species. Federal data shows that Jonah crab catch has increased six-fold since 2000 and value has increased more than 700 percent. A management plan would likely set regulations for catch size and create a permitting system.
  • NOAA selected from a pool of 279 applicants 88 projects to receive more than $25 million in Saltonstall-Kennedy grant program funding. This year’s projects focus on maximizing fishing opportunities and jobs, improving fisheries observations, increasing domestic seafood quality and quantity, and improving U.S. territory fishery information.
  • The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy reported the summer’s first great white shark sighting off of Cape Cod. The 15-foot shark was spotted on Monday off South beach in Orleans, MA.

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