In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, August 11

Researchers reported 17 great white sharks off the coast of Chatham last week. Image via Mass.gov

  • In a July 31 letter to NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck, five Massachusetts delegates asked for clarity on questions raised by lobstermen regarding NOAA’s new monitoring plans for the Massachusetts lobster industry. The letter stated that the new plans seem “duplicative and unnecessary.” The letter also addresses the concern of the industry having to later pay for the monitoring (NOAA currently pays), and who would be financially responsible in the occurrence of an accident involving an observer. Lobstermen are concerned because they would not be able to afford either.
  • Some environmental organizations and fishermen are advocating for electronic monitoring in the groundfish industry in place of onboard monitors. A recent Greenwire article compares the efficiency of a test Electronic Logbook System with onboard observers for reporting bycatch. Electronic monitoring takes it one step further; in addition to accurate and timely data, a camera will always be on board a vessel. The electronic system is a less expensive option, can also collect more data such as ocean temperature. John Pappalrdo, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance executive director, said NMFS’s plan to shift the cost of monitoring to the industry “made this good idea a great idea.”
  • NOAA Fisheries released a new interactive “story map” that overviews the 2015 fishing year Atlantic sea scallop managed waters. The map shows management changes, such as rotational closures, access areas, turtle conservation areas, gear modifications, and more. The accompanying website also provides more information about the 2015 scallop fishing year.
  • Last week, Cape Cod saw its biggest shark day of the season. Seventeen great white sharks were recorded off the beaches of Chatham, MA. Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is only in its second year of a five year population study, so it is too soon to tell if these numbers are unusual.
  • A new memorial in Seabrook honors fishermen from the town who lost their lives at sea. Eight of the names are men who were lost in the infamous Yankee Gale in 1851, a storm that destroyed nearly the entire New England fishing fleet.
  • Drones are allowing marine science researchers to go where they never could go before. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and NOAA scientists used drones to collect blow samples and take pictures of 36 humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank. Researchers hope they can use drones to answer many previously unanswerable questions, and regulatory agencies only hope they can keep up with the changing technology.
  • NOAA issued a new proposed rule for public comment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to protect marine mammals in international fisheries. The rule would require foreign nations exporting fish and fish products to the U.S. to “demonstrate that killing or serious injury of marine mammals incidental to their fishing activities do not occur in excess of U.S. standards. The new rule hopes to level the playing field for U.S. fishermen that play by the rules.
  • New research shows a cumulative negative impact on Atlantic salmon passing through dams on their way downstream. According to the study, each time a smolt passes through a dam, its chance of dying increases by 6-7 percent. On the positive side, the study showed that timing of the smolts reaching the estuary can help their chances of survival. Survival rate increased by 25 percent when smolts reached the estuary at “peak saltwater readiness.”

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