In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 29

A harbor seal pup. Image via NOAA.

  • The NEFMC Habitat Committee Meeting is on Monday, June 1 in Portsmouth NH. The committee will discuss data and analysis related to Georges Bank alternatives, including the new alternative introduced at the April Council meeting. Time permitting, the Council also plans to discuss spawning management alternatives.
  • H.R. 1335 will move to the House floor next week for votes. Fishing groups, conservationists, and political officials have all voiced their concerns about the bill. Those opposed say H.R. 1335 will jeopardize previous and future U.S. sustainable fishery successes.
  • Rep. Don Young (R-AK), author of the House MSA reauthorization bill, dismissed President Obama’s statement that he will veto H.R. 1335 if the bill came to his desk. Young claims the “veto threat as premature posturing not worth consideration at this early point in the legislative process.”
  • Last week, Senator Ayotte (R-NH) questioned NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan about the accuracy of the agency’s stock assessments. Dr. Sullivan defended the accuracy and said she would welcome a third party review of NOAA’s methods and performance. Most of the Senators questions came from the Northeast Seafood Coalition-sponsored petition.
  • NPR tells the success story of the cod comeback in the North Sea. A decade ago, the fishery was on the brink of collapse, but today fishermen are seeing fish everywhere. In the ‘90s, fishermen were catching about 60% of the entire North Sea cod population – an unsustainable amount. The government stepped in and bought about half of the fishing boats and set strict limits on those remaining. Now about a decade later, new generations are able to continue their family traditions.
  • A study recently published in Plos One identified 13 transnational corporations that control up to 40% of the world’s largest and most valuable commercial fish stocks (both wild and farmed), up to 16% of the global marine catch, and whose combined annual revenues sum to 18% of the 2012 global value of seafood production. Trident Seafood, headquartered in Seattle, is the only US-based company on the list (#13). The study was led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
  • The Maine fishing community is expressing widespread support for tighter limits on striped bass. The new bag limit – one striper of at least 28 inches per day – went into effect on May 12. Mid-May is usually when the stripers appear in Maine waters, and after witnessing the steep decline in populations, fishermen are simply happy to be out on the water.
  • Thousands of Atlantic menhaden have been dying off in Connecticut Rivers over the past week. The Marine Fisheries Division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection believe the cause is a virus that results in “whirling” disease. Infected fish swim in a circular pattern and pivot their tail and will usually die within three to five days. The Director of the marine Fisheries Division said that mass die-offs are common when abundance is high, but the investigation is on-going.
  • Spring time is river herring time. A recent Free Press article tells that success story of a new Damariscotta Mills fish ladder completed last winter. The ladder now connects 69 stone pools by short waterfalls, and the data speaks for itself. Before the ladder was rebuilt, in 2007, about 150,000 alewives made it to Damariscotta Lake. Last year, 1.3 million alewives made the passage.
  • NOAA Fisheries announced final trap/pot gear and gillnet regulations as part of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan effective immediately. The new rule will allow single traps in some waters of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine islands, and modifies the requirement to use one endline on trawls in Massachusetts. New gear marking color scheme are effective July 1, and new gear marking areas are effective September 1.
  • NOAA Fisheries announced 2015-2017 small mesh multispecies catch limits as recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council.  The new rule applies to northern and southern red hake, northern silver hake, and southern whiting.
  • Maine is considering a proposal to track its sea urchin fishery using a mandatory swipe card system to record where urchins are sold. Today is the final day to comment on the proposal.
  • A Boston Globe article asks: “How ocean-friendly is your canned tuna?” The article refers to the recently released Greenpeace tuna shopping guide. The guide ranks 14 national and private US tuna labels and ranks the three largest labels (75% of US market) as the least ocean-friendly. Project leader Graham Forbes says the guide should be used to help consumers select the best choices, not dissuade them from eating canned tuna. When choosing a brand, consumers should consider where the fish was caught, what fishing method was used, and how healthy is the fish stock.
  • Researchers at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office partnered to develop a model that assesses the impact of dams on “sea-run” fish species that need to access to both fresh and marine waters. Researchers found that when downstream dams were removed, fish abundance and distribution increased upstream. The model can be used to predict ecological response of fish populations and evaluate management and restoration efforts for diadromous fishes.
  • It is harbor seal pupping time in New England. During this time it is perfectly natural for pups to spend time on the beach where they often wait for their mothers’ return. Marine mammal response teams are reminding the public to leave the pups alone.

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