In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 23

Sea scallop with 100 eyes at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Dann Blackwood, USGS

  • The year isn’t over yet, but data gathered so far indicates that 2015 will likely be the hottest year on record. NOAA announced this week that September 2015 was not only the hottest September in recorded history, but the temperature increase between this September and the was greater than any since 1880. As reported in the New York Times, a strong El Nino weather pattern is contributing to the record temperatures, but “scientists said the records would not be occurring without an underlying trend caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.” According to the article, sea surface temperatures in some of the world’s ocean basins are three degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.
  • The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) suspended the swipe card system for the sea urchin fishery until fall 2016. Sea urchin fishermen had been required last year to use to swipe cards to record daily purchases, but DMR Resource Coordinator Trisha Cheney told Ellsworth American that there was not enough time this year to test the software.
  • Maine will begin a sea urchin transplant project in the Cat Ledges area off of Southport. The area will be closed to sea urchin harvesting until May 1, 2018. Regulators hope to “re-establish a colony of ‘commercially viable urchins’ in an area that formerly supported a wild harvest.”
  • Maine DMR voted to reduce the upcoming scallop season by 10 days. The change will affect a southern zone scallop area that runs from New Hampshire to Penobscot River. Scallopers in the area will only be allowed to fish 60 days instead of 70. The reduction is seen as another step in DMR’s attempt to rebuild the scallop fishery.
  • The Gulf of Maine Research Institute will receive a $6.5 million grant from NASA, its largest grant ever received. Each year, GMRI leads hands-on programs for fifth and sixth grade students about local species and the human impacts on them. They also learn about the effects of increasing ocean temperatures. The grant will be used to build upon this program and is expected to be ready for the 2018-2019 school year.
  • More and more great white shark are summering on Cape Cod. Consequently, an Orleans, MA selectman wants to create a nonprofit called Cape Cod Shark Watch. The organization would be a forum for federal, state, and local officials to put into action “common sense ideas” for increasing the safety of Cape Cod beachgoers. There were no shark-related injuries this summer, but the selectman says public education is still necessary. A shark expert for the state Division of Marine Fisheries said that a functioning communication system is already in place, but there is room for improvement.
  • On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015. Included in the legislation is the Port State Measures Agreement, an international agreement to deny entry and services to ships that have participated in illegal fishing. Tony Long of The Pew Charitable Trusts said, “Securing the participation of the United States is a major milestone in this global enforcement endeavor.”
  • In celebration of National Seafood Month, NOAA Fisheries launched a mobile-friendly version of FishWatch.gov. FishWatch.gov provides consumers with information on smart seafood choices and the status of commercially harvested species. The website also serves as an education tool for learning about sustainable seafood practices in the U.S.
  • Over 1 million square miles of ocean have now been highly protected in 2015 with the announcement of Palau’s new 193,000 square mile fully protected marine reserve. Highly protected areas also announced this year were the Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand’s Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, and Chile’s Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, as well as the proposed Easter Island Reserve. The Washington Post states, “Even with these designations, the task of protecting these areas remains unfinished.”Proper management will be essential.

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