In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 30

A North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing line. Image via NOAA.

  • After two deaths of right whales in New England waters – one of which was caused by stress from entanglement in fishing gear – and a third entanglement incident, scientists are saying that the current rules in place to protect the endangered species need improvement. The second dead whale could not be retrieved so its cause of death is unknown. Scientists were, however, able to save the third whale after removing 200 pounds of fishing gear; they found a fishing license on one of the buoys but have not released any more information.
  • Fishing captain Dave Monti wrote an op-ed in the Providence Journal supporting the designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. He emphasized the importance of strong management laws that manage the fish for their own sake and not the humans that take them out of the water. He said, “Fishing policies have to be sensitive to the needs of the fishing community, but we have to put the fish first. If we don’t there will no fish left to fish.”
  • Maine will soon decide what to do with it’s third bin of groundfish disaster aid money – a total of $1.02 million – and a Bangor Daily News editorial opined that the money should be given to new or small-scale fishermen, not the ones that have been able to continue fishing. The editorial said that the money should go to the three groundfish sectors in Maine who will then be able to distribute it in a way that they think is best for the fishermen in the sector, such as paying for at-sea monitoring or permit banking.
  • The Massachusetts/New Hampshire spawning area for Atlantic herring, which stretches from Maine to Cape Cod will close Sunday and remain closed until October 29. To determine the closure, regulators used a spawning forecast method that they approved earlier this year.
  • A University of New Hampshire researcher, Todd Guerdat, is leading a series of studies in integrating land-based aquaculture with hydroponic plant production. He hopes by using waste nutrients from fish and using them to grow plants, he can increase local food production. The studies are currently using tilapia, but the goal is to switch to a coldwater species such as striped bass.
  • A national Oceana study of 1,000 registered voters found that over four out of five Americans support new regulations, such as traceability requirements, to combat seafood fraud and mislabeling. The issue was of high importance to both registered Democrats and Republicans. As reported by the Miami Herald, “71 percent believe seafood fraud is a problem, 76 percent would pay more to know their seafood products are legally caught and labeled correctly, while 88 percent feel it’s important to know the kind of seafood they’re consuming.”
  • The Massachusetts Congressional delegation, led by Representative Moulton and Senator Markey, sent a letter to the EU calling the proposed ban on American lobster imports “an excessive and unscientific response.” The letter pointed out that the EU’s Scientific Forum itself concluded that there is insufficient evidence of an invasive species. Annually, Massachusetts exports about $125 million worth of lobster to the EU.
  • An AP report reveals that labor abuses in Thailand’s fishing industry, which were revealed in a news story last summer, still exist. Thailand originally promised compensation to workers who were victims of slavery in the seafood trade, but not all promises have been fulfilled. In one case, a worker and his wife were deported and the worker did not receive any compensation. Also, some Thai companies that are still operating use middlemen where human trafficking has been exposed. Read more here.

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