In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 27

Acadian redfish is one species of "trash fish" that New England chefs are increasingly offering on their menus. Image via NOAA FishWatch.

  • An AP investigative story exposed the use of slave labor in illegal fishing and its link to the global seafood supply chain. The story reported that men from Burma are being brought through Thailand to Indonesia, where they are forced to fish; their catch is then shipped to Thailand and distributed globally. Some of this fish can land itself in major U.S. food distributors and restaurants. In response to the story, the U.S. State Department and major businesses are renewing pressure on the Thai government to crack down on labor abuse.
  • A recent article summarizes amendments in the Rep. Young’s Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization Bill, which cover topics such as stock rebuilding, council transparency, catch and quota limits, and conflicts between MSA and other federal laws and responsibilities. The reauthorization bill replaces the term “overfished” with “depleted” when addressing stock status and will allow councils to consider economic impacts when establishing catch limits. Ultimately the bill seeks to give the eight regional fishery management councils more control.
  • Recreational saltwater fishermen gathered this week at the 2015 Southern New England Recreational Fishing Symposium, sponsored by Pew Charitable Trusts, URI Coastal Institute, and the RI Saltwater Anglers Foundation. The symposium focused on implementing ecosystem-based fisheries management in recreational fishing policy. EBFM is an important practice when combating issues such as climate change and forage fish abundance.
  • Massachusetts and Maine Senators submitted yesterday a bipartisan budget amendment supporting at-sea and dockside fisheries monitoring in New England fisheries. The amendment applies to fisheries that have received economic disaster aid.
  • 20 U.S. Senators signed a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee for “robust funding” to monitor ocean acidification for the benefit of the U.S. shellfish industry, a $2.8 billion industry. Current monitoring systems allow shellfish harvesters to track ocean acidity in real time. If acidity levels get too high, they can close off the tanks.
  • Maine’s scallop fishery is rebounding, but a state representative has proposed capping the allowable scallop harvest to 90lbs per day per person. The proposed legislation would also cut the maximum width of scallop drags in half. The proposal will be addressed at a public hearing on April 1.
  • NEFMC discussed Amendment 8 to the Atlantic herring management plan at a public hearing yesterday. The Council is proposing establishing a rule for acceptable biological catch for the fishery based on the best available science. Maine and Massachusetts have the largest commercial herring fisheries in the U.S., earning a combined $25 million in 2013. Amendment 8 is open for public comment until April 30.
  • Northeast Consortium received $450,000 for research on New England groundfish stocks. NEFMC awarded four groups money to work on projects addressing issues such as bycatch avoidance, gear modification, and discard mortality.
  • Researchers at URI and Roger Williams University are testing the use of probiotics to protect shellfish from disease. Oyster larvae are particularly vulnerable to bacterial disease, which can be a problem in aquaculture productions. Researchers are also testing probiotics’ effect on slowing lobster shell disease.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 70% of seafood consumed in the U.S. can be attributed to four species, and abundant domestic species are often deemed unsellable. Restaurants are starting to embrace so-called “trash fish” as a way of offering their customers a more sustainable and local seafood option. Chef Michael Leviton in Newton, MA often includes Acadian redfish and porgy on his menu and is also writing a trash fish cookbook.
  • NOAA Fisheries issued the final 2015 sea turtle observation requirement that will require selected fisheries to have sea turtle observers upon request for a period of 5 years between April 2015 and December 2019. Fourteen fisheries were listed, including Northeast/Mid-Atlantic American lobster trap/pot and Rhode Island floating trap. The requirement is issued by means of the Endangered Species Act.
  • NOAA Fisheries offered its congratulations to the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on a successful 40 years. During the first weekend in March, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum brings together the fishing community to discuss science and regulatory issues within the regional commercial fishery.
  • A Pew Charitable Trusts report revealed that EU nations continue to overharvest Atlantic fish stocks despite sustainability commitments made in the Common Fisheries Policy. Two species that continue to be overfished are cod and hake. EU executive officials said they are trying to find the balance between the environment and the fishermen.
  • Jane Lubchenco won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her work on catch share programs while serving as NOAA Administrator. There are currently 17 catch share programs in the U.S.
  • A new study reports that increased glacier melt has weakened the Gulf Stream circulation by 15 to 20%. The Gulf Stream is a key driver of ocean and heat circulation in the North Atlantic. It’s weakening would likely exacerbate sea level rise particularly impacting the east coast of the United States.

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