In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 20

A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. Photo by Brian Skerry.

  • The Presidential Task Force on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud announced its action plan for combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The 40-page plan outlines an 18 month timeline and includes 15 new recommendations to reduce IUU fishing and seafood fraud, such as a traceability program and improved catch documentation. The Task Force recommends that the State Department make IUU fishing a top diplomatic priority.
  • Fisheries regulators from US, Norway, Iceland, and Canada met at the Boston Seafood Show to discuss normalizing ecolabels. According to Seafoodnews.com, the meeting served only as a discussion forum, but will hopefully lay the groundwork for future collaboration.
  • A new voluntary vessel speed restriction zone is currently in effect for an area south of Martha’s Vineyard. NOAA Fisheries observers recently spotted a group of six endangered right whales in the area. The restriction zone remains in effect through March 28, 2015.
  • After two weeks of lobster predictions, GMRI says the chance of a normal start date (between July 3 and 10) for high lobster landings in 46%. Predicting when the lobsters will move inshore allows processors and markets to better prepare.
  • NOAA Fisheries selected a panel of international scientists to review three sea scallop survey systems. This week in New Bedford, MA, fisheries and ocean scientists presented their survey methods to the panel that will either choose the best method or piece together the best parts of each.
  • Recreational fishermen recently formed the non-profit Gulf of Maine Charter and Recreational Fishing Association. Its members are working with a law firm to fight restrictions on groundfish fishing in the Gulf of Maine.
  • Massachusetts has distributed about 10% of the second round of federal fishery disaster aid. In total, 65 eligible permit holders applied for funds. The state Division of Marine Fisheries is also distributing aid to crew members, the deadline for which to apply for is April 24.
  • The buyback/buyout plan slated for the third phase of New England federal fishery disaster aid could be in jeopardy. Regional Administrator John Bullard said that short-term economic needs of groundfishermen and crew members may outweigh the long-term benefits of a buyback plan.
  • According to NOAA, recreational saltwater fishing adds $208 million to Rhode Island’s economy annually. Recreational fishing supports tourism and adds to the “quality of place” for residents.
  • An opinion blog in the Hill argues that the Magnuson Stevens Act has allowed for US sustainable fisheries. Fishery sustainability varies between regions, but overall only 9% of stocks are fished at above maximum sustainable yield, and only 2% are on Seafood Watch’s “avoid” list. There is still room for improvement though with 17% of stocks still overfished.
  • NOAA Fisheries proposed Framework Adjustment 26 to the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, which sets 2015 management measures. Some measures include catch limits, days at sea and allocations, and closed areas.
  • Stakeholders argued at a public meeting on Wednesday regarding the proposed offshore drilling in the Mid-Atlantic. Environmentalists said that an oil spill would devastate the region’s environment and economy, while business groups say it is time to look for new energy sources. A final decision on the proposal is expected by the end of 2016.
  • The UK government designated the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve, which is now the world’s largest fully protect marine reserve. The area is 3.5 times the size of the UK and home to at least 1,249 species of marine mammals, fish, and seabirds.

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