In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 8

Derelict fishing gear is damaging to marine habitat and life. Image courtesy NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition and Deepwater Canyons 2012 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM.]

  • New England groundfishermen are concerned about the cost of paying for at-sea monitors. NOAA has previously paid for trained workers to collect data, but starting in August, fishermen will have to pick up the bill – about $800 per trip. The cost of at-sea monitoring was originally supposed to be transferred to fishermen in 2012, but NOAA delayed due to “continuing economic problems.” Now, NOAA must now meet its funding needs for producing bycatch statistics and can no long support groundfish monitoring.
  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) near unanimously voted to increase the Atlantic menhaden catch limit by 10%. The increase is seen as a compromise between commercial fishermen and conservationists. Regulators have also committed to managing menhaden for their ecological value, which will “provide benefits for the fish and fishermen up and down the coast.”
  • Maine’s Department of Marine Resources banned the use of fyke nets by Passamaquoddy Tribe members to catch elvers. Sustenance fishermen are not required to report their catch, and officials said they are concerned that the large nets catch more than the tribal sustenance licenses allow and that fishermen may be selling the baby eels. The tribe and department have had disagreements in the past, but not publicly since the start of the 2014 season.
  • Maine’s Marine Resource Committee delayed the decision on a bill that would allow American Indian Tribes to co-manage state commercial fisheries. Tribes desire more than just a voice in fishery management. Some lawmakers, however, believe an agreement can be reached without passing a law. Discussions will resume next week.
  • Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association received a $175,000 federal grant to develop a “boat to plate” program. The fishermen will work with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Hannaford Supermarkets to provide consumers with information on where and when their seafood was caught and who caught it.
  • In order to prevent “stockpiling,” commercial fishermen fishing recreationally on closed days must now remove the right pectoral fin from any eligible striped bass. Stockpiling – an illegal activity – is when fish is harvested on a closed commercial day, but then sold on the following open day. The new measure will keep recreationally caught fish out of the market.
  • ASMFC approved for public comment draft amendment 3 to the Interstate Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. The draft seeks to adjust spawning protections in the inshore Gulf of Maine and address industry concerns. Individual states will be holding public hearings on the amendment during spring and summer. The draft document will be available of the Commission’s website until May 15th.
  • World Animal Protection and the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation joined forces last week to collect “ghost gear” – fishing gear that has been lost or abandoned – off the coast of Portland. In total, 147 traps (44 of which are still usable) and 1,000 pounds of rope and line were collected. According to World Animal Protection, 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost in the ocean and 136,000 marine mammals will get tangled every year.
  • Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and partner organizations developed a computer program to improve understanding of climate change and ocean acidification effects on scallop fisheries. The program simulates current ocean conditions, sea scallop population dynamics, and economic impacts. Output from the model will be available via an interactive website.
  • Researchers developed Fishery Performance Indicators, a tool that considers biological and social factors when determining fishery health. The tool uses three performance indicators: ecology, economics, and community. On average, study authors found that less healthy fish stocks result in worse economic and community conditions.

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