In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, December 16

Low biomass and slow growth rates leave Atlantic halibut susceptible to overexploitation. Image via Mass. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

  • The U.S. Congress passed three pieces of legislation regarding sustainable fisheries on the high seas, transitioning from an observer to an “active global voice.” In a recent op-ed, deputy assistant for international fisheries for NOAA Russel Smith says, “This milestone legislation enables the U.S. to bring its sound science, technological advancements, and goal of implementing broad-scale and effective ecosystem-based management approaches to the global community.” The legislation passed builds on the success of the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishery Enforcement Act of 2015.
  • Maine’s Department of Marine Resources suspended the lobster licenses of two Maine lobstermen for illegally removing eggs from female lobsters and trying to sell the lobsters. The licenses will be suspended for six years and the lobstermen each face fines of up to $1,600 and $1,900. Maine DMR considers the “scrubbing” of lobsters to be a serious violation because it undermines those who follow the rules and jeopardizes the resource.
  • Fishery managers and fishermen are interested in the impact that grey seals are having on local fish populations and would like to know the exact population of the grey seals to be able to assess the impact. Unfortunately, a stock assessment of the seals could cost a half million dollars, according to NEFSC’s seal research program coordinator. Some scientists, however, are unsure if an exact number will even be helpful and worry that it would encourage a herd-reducing cull.
  • Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries is seeking one shrimp trawler to participate in a northern shrimp population study. The purpose of the study is “to collect northern shrimp samples during the winter period when the shrimp are in inshore waters, to collect data on the timing of the egg hatch, and the size, gender, and developmental stage of the shrimp.” The trawler will be able to catch up to 1,200 pounds of shrimp to sell during the eight week project.
  • According to Maine DMR’s resource management coordinator for scallops, more scallop boats are choosing to stay in their local waters. In years past, many gathered in Cobscook Bay, but this year only about half of the boats were there at the start of the season. The scallop year is so far off to a good start.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council has decided to review the management of Atlantic halibut, making it a 2017 priority. Halibut is considered overfished but catch by east coast fishermen has increased in recent years, mainly driven by catch in nearshore Maine waters. Fosters.com reported Ben Martens, the executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association saying that “Maine should consider limiting the amount of halibut fishing in state waters. Otherwise, federal fishermen will be negatively affected by the surge in state catch.” Maine DMR did not comment.

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