In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, October 20

A Jonah crab on the rocks. Image via U.S. National Parks Service.

  • The Wall Street Journal is the latest news source to cover the Maine lobster boom. Since the Maine lobster season runs from July to November, 2015 data is not yet available, but the fishery is likely to have another near-record or record high year for landings and value. In 2014, lobstermen landed 124.4 million pounds of lobster worth $459.9 million. Experts attribute the boom to a variety of factors such as good management practices, fewer predators, and warming ocean temperatures. There is uncertainty about how long the boom will last, but for now, lobstermen have been able to keep up with the expanding market.
  • Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, last week delivered a message about her commitment to the safety of at-sea monitors and observers, who she calls “our eyes and ears on the water.” Observers must complete a rigorous training course and are exposed to the same tough conditions as fishermen when out on the water, but tensions between them and fishermen are no secret. In her message, Eileen Sobeck stated, “cooperation is critical” for observer safety and efficient data collection. “[Observers] make a valuable contribution to our knowledge of fisheries and deserve our respect.”
  • You won’t find many crab fishermen in Maine these days. Due to the profit found in the lobster industry, the market divide between Maine lobster and crab has increased over the years. Last year, Maine lobstermen earned $3.69 per pound of lobster, but only 45 cents per pound of crab, which is often only a bycatch species. It’s a different story, however, in Southern New England where lobster populations have plummeted and fishermen have turned to crabs, specifically the Jonah crab, as an alternative, abundant resource. New interest in the species spurred ASMFC to implement the first Jonah crab fishery management plan.
  • Last week, 18 New England fishermen participated in a free safety training program organized by the non-profit Fishing Partnership Support Services and supervised by Coast Guard instructors. Fishing Partnership Support Services has been organizing training for fishermen for 10 years and has trained 2,700 fishermen. Fishermen learn damage control training such as how to handle fires and leaks.
  • WCAI, local NPR for the Cape, Coast, and Islands, interviewed prominent marine scientists who spoke of the ecological importance of Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts. Fishermen were also interviewed to express their opposing views, but the story concludes with a statement from Priscilla Brooks of Conservation Law Foundation who emphasized the importance of protected areas to the public. The story also provides differences between marine sanctuaries and monuments.

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