In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 20

Shortnose sturgeon were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1967. Image via NOAA/NMFS.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved farm-raised, genetically modified Atlantic salmon produced by the company AquaBounty Technologies. The salmon are modified to grow faster by combining genes with Pacific Chinook salmon. Several retailers and distributors in Maine, however, have already stated that they will not sell the genetically modified salmon, which some of the opposition are calling “Frankenfish.” A spokesman from the Scarborough-based Hannaford told the Portland Press Herald, “We already offer a wide variety of conventional salmon and salmon products that our customers enjoy.” The FDA will not require AquaBounty to label the salmon “GMO” to which many in Maine are also opposed.
  • Researchers from the Canadian Fisheries Research Network found 11 distinct variations of lobster in a genetic study on lobster stocks in 17 locations from Newfoundland to Rhode Island. These findings contradict a previous study that only found two variations, but the researchers said the analysis tools are now more advanced and powerful.
  • D. students at the University of Maine are studying the connection between warming oceans and lobster shell disease. The team is specifically looking to “identify environmental drivers of [shell disease] and combine that information with climate change projections to identify potential scenarios of future disease expansion in the Gulf of Maine.” Lobsters in the Gulf of Maine are especially sensitive to changing temperatures and warming waters cause them to use more energy, which lowers their immune response.
  • University of Maine researchers identified three female shortnose sturgeon swimming in previously inaccessible parts of the Penobscot River. The removal of the Veazie Dam in 2013 reopened these parts of the river for the first time in over a century. Researchers had previously tagged the fish with acoustic tags to monitor their movements. Shortnose sturgeon have been listed as endangered on the Endangered Species List since 1967 and have historically used the Penobscot River for spawning.
  • Saving Seafood announced the creation of the National Coalition of Fishing Communities. The coalition is meant to bring together those in fishing/seafood-related industries across the country and create a unified voice “through dialogue, education, and outreach.” Over 60 member groups have joined the coalition prior to its official launch in January.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service agreed to re-examine the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project and its impact on endangered Hudson River sturgeon. The group Riverkeeper previously filed a petition on the issue citing an increase in sturgeon deaths since the project began in 2012.
  • The face of the Portland Harbor Fish Market, Ben Alfiero, died on Monday after a long battle with cancer. Alfiero worked at the market since he was a teenager and helped run the business with his two brothers since the 1990s.
  • S. lawmakers may soon decide on legislation to ban the use of microbeads in personal care products. The Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015 unanimously passed the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and it now waits to go to the floor. Microbeads are sources of pollution in our ocean and fresh water ecosystem and fish can often mistake them for food.
  • October 2015 was the hottest October ever recorded according to new data from NASA and NOAA. The combined average land and ocean surface temperature was 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. 2015 has had the highest average temperatures since 1880.

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