In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Thursday, July 2

An Atlantic smooth dogfish. Image via NOAA

This week’s Fish Talk in the News arrives a little early. Happy 4th of July!

  • According to a new report from UMass and USGS climate change is still affecting New England fish and wildlife, confirming previous findings. Climate change impacts the ability of fish such as river herring to migrate and spawn and also affects different species’ ability to adapt to environmental changes. USGS ecologist Michelle Staudinger told New England Public Radio that we must set long-term priorities to protect vulnerable habitat and species.
  • Prompted by a court saying that NOAA uses too much discretion in its monitoring programs, the agency has begun to use a formula for allocating its fisheries observer coverage. The purpose of the formula is to spread coverage more evenly across fisheries, so some are likely to see changes in the amount of coverage – sometimes more, sometimes less. The New England lobster industry is one that is expected to see more. Many lobstermen are opposed to this change, claiming that the current observer program is sufficient.
  • NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) announced that the final Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology Omnibus Amendment, which covers fishery management plans in the Greater Atlantic, will be effective July 30. The new rule imposes stricter guidelines/standards for reporting and monitoring bycatch and details how on-board observers will be distributed. Environmentalists and fishermen are both worried about this new rule. Joseph Gordon of the Pew Charitable Trusts told Greenwire Environment & Energy ,”The law requires NOAA fisheries to monitor bycatch, but through this rule the agency will almost entirely eliminate monitoring of the industrial midwater trawl fleet. In the future, we will have even less scientific information or ability to implement conservation measures to protect non-target species.”
  • NOAA Fisheries recently completed the first stock assessment for the Atlantic smooth dogfish (as well as one for stocks in the Gulf of Mexico). The assessment concluded that the Atlantic smooth dogfish, which is found from Massachusetts to Florida, is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
  • The annual federal sea scallop resource survey in Delaware Bay revealed a “banner year” for young sea scallops in the Mid-Atlantic. The survey was completed by NOAA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The underwater survey camera, HabCamV4 showed some seafloor areas with as many as 350 scallops per 1 square meter! The young scallops found in the survey will be available for harvest in two to three years, according to NOAA’s research analyst. This is just the first leg of the scallop survey. Legs two and three will survey Southern New England and Georges Bank.
  • A Connecticut lobsterman wants New York to control pesticide use in order to improve the lobster stock in Long Island Sound. Connecticut has already banned the use of some pesticides. Senator Murphy (CT) said that money from the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act could help New York curb its pesticide use.
  • ASMFC is drafting an amendment to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan that includes “the development of ecological reference points that reflect Atlantic menhaden’s role as a forage species.” ASMFC established a work group to address this goal and will be hosting an Ecosystem Management Objectives Workshop August 31 – September 1 in Maryland. The public is welcome to join in person or via webinar.
  • Five fishing groups filed a federal lawsuit last Friday seeking to stop an ocean seismic research testing program off the coast of New Jersey. The groups argue that the testing is harmful to New Jersey’s marine life, particularly marine mammals. Project leaders were quoted in the news saying that the program is “in full compliance with laws that protect marine life.”
  • A recent NRDC blog post details the issues surrounding the proposed revision of the National Standard 1 Guidelines of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The blog’s author, Brad Sewell, says that revised guidelines would weaken the rules that help sustain our healthy fish populations and fisheries, increase risk for overfishing, allow for a decrease in management where it is much needed.
  • Boston-based seafood company with a history of controversial advertisements, Legal Sea Foods, launched its new ad campaign that establishes “pescatarianism” as a new religion. CEO Roger Berkowitz told the Boston Globe, “We love the idea that we’re elevating seafood a religious experience.” This ad campaign is said to be the company’s widest-reaching yet.
  • BP PLC agreed to settle all federal and state claims related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in U.S. history. They will pay $18.7 billion over 18 years. The spill leaked millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, damaging surrounding ecosystems such as beaches, marshes, and mangroves. The settlement allows BP to avoid litigation over the environmental impact of the spill. Majority of the settlement money will go to the states to use for environmental repair and economic development.

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