In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 13

Soft-shell clams, Photo by Stephen Ritchie via Flickr

  • A recent Boston Globe article highlights the rising acidity levels in the Gulf of Maine and the impact on shellfish in the region. Compared to other regions, the Gulf of Maine is more vulnerable to ocean acidification because its colder water temperatures better absorb the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. New England has also experienced a 70% increase in heavy storms over the past 50 years, which causes increased runoff and nutrient pollution in coastal waters. Together, these issues generate unfavorable water conditions for shellfish development and reproduction. A number of Gulf of Maine-based research groups are studying these effects and how best to lessen their impact.
  • Warmer ocean temperatures driven by climate change are pushing blue crabs into the Gulf of Maine. According to Environment 360, blue crabs are “the first documented commercially important species to move into the Gulf of Maine.” Some have even been seen as far north as Nova Scotia.
  • Last week, four environmental groups filed a collective suit to hold NOAA to a ten year rebuilding plan for Gulf of Maine cod. The suit was filed under the Administrative Procedures Act and refers to requirements called for by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The rebuilding plan would effectually mean a total closure of the cod fishery.
  • Representative Young of Alaska filed the Hastings Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Bill in the House last week. The official title of the bill as introduced is “to amend the [MSA] to provide flexibility for fishery managers and stability for fishermen, and for other purposes.”
  • In a letter to President Obama, 75 scientists warned that seismic testing has “an enormous environmental footprint,” and they want him to reverse approval for oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast. The blasts will particularly impact communication between marine mammals such as the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which could have devastating results on the population.
  • The Atlantic scallop season opened March 1st, but interim rules are in place until NMFS approves the final management plan. The final rules will create new access areas, and as a result landings are projected to increase by at least ten million pounds.
  • Faced with the prospect of docking his boat for the last time, a struggling Nantucket fisherman used the entrepreneur website Kickstarter to stay out on the water. Bill Blount asked for donations in exchange for stickers, shirts, and fresh fish and raised $34,000.
  • The Gulf of Maine Research Institute predicts that this winter’s below-average temperatures and storms will keep lobsters offshore longer, and Maine’s summer lobster season will start later than usual. GMRI bases it predictions on 13 years of lobster landings data and four water temperature buoys off the coast of Maine. Forecasts will be released every Wednesday through April.
  • An opinion article in the Bangor Daily News expressed concern over Maine’s dependence on lobster, which accounted for over 78% of Maine’s 2014 fishery value. The lobster industry is currently booming and 2014 was its most valuable year yet, but some are worried about the negatives of a lobster monoculture.
  • After a two year boom, Maine’s elver fishery value fell 74% from its 2013 value; however, the harvest was still the third most valuable in the last 20 years and the fourth most valuable commercial species in Maine for 2014. The drop in value is attributed to colder springtime temperatures and less global demand.
  • Red tides causing high toxin levels can often disrupt the Gulf of Maine’s shellfish industry. Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher Porter Hoagland is developing a tool for forecasting the economic loss during these events. Combining historical data with local shellfish values Hoagland is hoping to estimate shellfish production value with and without closures.
  • The Seafood Expo North America, the largest seafood trade event in North America, kicks off this Sunday, March 15 in Boston, MA. Over 1,100 exhibitors will be present at this year’s show offering nearly every type of seafood and seafood-related product/service.

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