In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 9

Humpback whale populations have benefited from 40 years of conservation efforts. Image via NOAA.

  • An AP report this week revealed labor abuses of foreign fishermen on Hawaiian fishing vessels. The men working on the vessels, often coming from Southeast Asian and Pacific nations, are undocumented and thus not allowed to get off the boats when docked in the United States. They can work up to 20-hour days and receive as little as 70 cents per hour. They are entirely dependent on their captains for food, medical attention, and any supplies they may need. The fish caught by these vessels is shipped around the country. You can read more here.
  • The Martha’s Vineyard Times reports on the “wake of death” left by squid trawlers in the waters near the island. The trawlers use nets the size of football fields and “strengtheners,” which make the nets tighter so they can catch more fish. In addition to squid, however, the nets are catching scup, sea bass, hake, butterfish, and whiting – many of them juveniles. One commercial fisherman documented the carnage with video.
  • A new IUCN report by 80 scientists from 12 countries “reviews the effects of ocean warming on species, ecosystems, and on the benefits oceans provide to humans.” According to the report, ocean warming is already damaging fish habitats, causing the loss of breeding grounds for seabirds, as well as affecting marine mammal breeding success. The IUCN Director General said, “Ocean warming is one of this generation’s greatest hidden challenges – and one for which we are completely unprepared.”
  • A University of Maine survey showed that 75 percent of Maine citizens will pay more for sustainably harvested food, and 30 percent may be willing to spend extra for local Maine seafood. The survey was part of a larger Maine Sea Grant research project, Seafood Links. The project is focused on “consumer perceptions of seafood, and learning how Maine businesses source their seafood.”
  • Oceana released a new report on global seafood fraud. According to the report, one in five of over 25,000 samples of seafood was mislabeled, and the mislabeling occurred in every part of the supply chain. In the U.S., the average fraud rate was 28 percent. Mislabeled seafood has negative economic impacts and health risks.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to exempt sea urchins and sea cucumbers from certain federal trade requirements, specifically licensing requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The bill was sponsored by Maine Representatives Poliquin and Pingree.
  • The AP reported that high lobster prices might become the norm due to increased demand for processed lobster products. Lobster prices reached an 11-year high at the end of August, and moving into September consumers are still paying $9 to $11 per pound of live lobster.
  • A Maine lobster council voted 6-1 to close the state’s last remaining open lobster zone. Newcomers would need to wait for another lobsterman to give up their license. The final decision now goes to Maine’s Department of Marine Resources.
  • After 40 years of international conservation efforts, nine of fourteen distinct populations of humpback whales will be removed from listing under the Endangered Species Act, announced NOAA Fisheries. Four populations remain protected as endangered, and one is listed as threatened.

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