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In the News
Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 5
Fishing boats in New Bedford, MA.
- On Monday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1335, the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” to amend and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The bill passed strongly along party lines, 225-152. Environmental groups and some fishing organizations remain strongly opposed to the bill.
- An amendment submitted by Massachusetts Reps. Keating, Lynch, and Moulton to reform the use of monies in NOAA’s Asset Forfeiture Fund was included in H.R. 1335. The amendment sets parameters that the funds, originally penalties collected from fishermen, should be used to improve the research and management of fisheries through fishery research and stock assessments, at-sea and shore-side monitoring, conservation gear engineering, fishery impact statements, and other priorities established by management councils.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2016, cutting NOAA’s current budget by $270 million. This includes cuts to climate research by $30 million. A rider was also attached to the bill that prohibits the use of NOAA funds to establish the National Ocean Policy. The bill passed 242-183.
- New England Representatives have enlisted the help of CJS Appropriations Subcommittee majority and minority leaders to secure federal funding to continue paying for New England commercial fishing monitoring. NOAA has funded NE monitoring since 1972, but come August, the industry is expected to pick up the bill. Rep. Culberson (R-TX) agreed to work with NE delegates on the issue as the House and Senate finalize a CJS Appropriations bill.
- The Maine House of Representatives put off its vote on shared management of commercial fisheries between state regulators and tribes. The bill would allow state regulators and four tribes to enter into a “memorandum of agreement” about marine resources. The bill is not expected to pass.
- The Connecticut House and Senate have both passed “An Act Concerning a Long Island Sound Blue Plan and Resource and Use Inventory.” The CT Blue Plan now awaits Governor Malloy’s signature, who has already expressed his support. The plan creates a committee of diverse stakeholders from Connecticut, working together with New York, to catalog Long Island Sound’s marine resources and uses and to develop a future plan.
- Senators King and Collins announced that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded The Nature Conservancy $300,000 to implement electronic monitoring systems for New England fisheries. The funding will outfit up to two dozen groundfishing vessels with electronic monitoring to help better manage and protect New England fisheries.
- The agenda for the New England Fishery Management Council’s June full council meeting is now available. The meeting will be held on June 16-18 in Newport, RI, at which the Council will finalize its votes for the Omnibus Habitat Amendment.
- The Maine Sea Grant Program produced an animated video about the uphill battle facing Maine lobster populations due to the effects of climate change. Lobster populations have been booming in recent years, but they are a cold water species, and warming ocean temperatures impact their growing, feeding, reproduction, energy storage, and ability to fight off disease.
- Maine’s elver season closed on Sunday and this year’s prices reached record highs. At times, the elvers sold for over $2,500 per pound, well exceeding the 2012 record of $1,868.73. Fishermen and dealers attribute the high prices to this year’s slow season and reduced catch.
- Massachusetts lobstermen are expressing concern over an increase in onboard monitoring and regulations for the lobster industry. Some are claiming that without many groundfish boats on the water, observers have made lobstermen their “next target.” NOAA Fisheries hosted an informational meeting in Gloucester last night to discuss the observer program, insurance and liability requirements, safety regulations, and other details.
- NOAA recommended this week that 10 of the 14 endangered populations of humpback whales be removed from the endangered species list and be upgraded to “fully recovered.”This would mean eased restrictions and protections for the marine mammals, which some environmental groups fear may be too much too soon for the populations. NOAA will make a final decision after a 90-day public comment period.
- U.S. and Canadian lobstermen are clashing in a disputed gray zone between Maine and New Brunswick. Lobstermen from each country claim they have rights to fish in the area and the number of reported disagreements, largely involving lobster gear, is increasing. Some even fear they will become violent. The Boston Globe tells the story of the conflict that dates back to the Revolutionary War.