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Fish Talk in the News – Friday, July 29

Gulf of Maine cod has been overfished for decades. Image via NOAA.

  • New research from scientists at UC Santa Barbara and Columbia University found that the North Atlantic Oscillation “a periodic climatic phenomenon, like El Nino, [that] causes changes in water temperature” has contributed to the decline of New England cod stocks. The researchers estimate that the NAO has “accounted for up to 17 percent of the decline” since 1980. The researchers say that fisheries managers can use this study to improve management of the stock.
  • NOAA Fisheries is accepting research proposals for 2017 Saltonstall-Kennedy grants. The agency will provide $10 million in funding for “projects focusing on coastal fishing communities and sustainable fisheries.” This includes topics such as aquaculture, fishery data collection, sustainable seafood promotion, socio-economic fisheries research, adapting to climate change and techniques for reducing bycatch (listed by CapeCod.com). The deadline is September 20th.
  • ASMFC is considering changes to shark finning rules for smooth dogfish. The amendment under consideration would allow smooth dogfish fins to be removed at sea, “as long as [a fisherman’s] total retained catch is at least 25 percent smooth dogfish.” There is currently no limit on how many dogfish without fins fishermen can land. A vote is scheduled for next week.
  • ASMFC will discuss potential strategies for saving lobster populations in Southern New England next week. Members of the lobster management board hope to find “new management options to increase egg production…by 20 to 60 percent.” This possibly includes fewer traps and a shorter fishing season.
  • Recreational fishermen will be allowed to catch Gulf of Maine cod beginning August 1. One fisherman will be allowed one cod per day. There was a slight increase in biomass of Gulf of Maine cod since last year.
  • ABC News recently interviewed University of Maine research Bob Steneck about Maine lobsters. The interview team was interested in finding out why Maine lobster populations are thriving, while populations elsewhere are in decline. Steneck told reporters that Maine’s rocky environment is a good nursery habitat for lobsters and is currently the perfect water temperature.
  • Although it’s too early to know for sure, but researchers are saying that summer 2016 could be banner year for shark sightings. In New England, great white sharks arrived earlier and in greater numbers. Eight new sharks have been tagged this year; at this time last year, only three had been tagged. Researchers are interested in why the sharks are coming closer to shore.

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