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In the News
Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 3
The Maine elver season starts March 22. Image via dec.ny.gov.
- The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission released its 2016 annual report. The report is required to update Congress about ASMFC’s use of funds, and it also provides stakeholders with a summary of ASMFC’s work to manage and rebuild fisheries. In 2016, ASMFC approved a new Atlantic herring amendment and made progress on an Atlantic menhaden amendment. The report notes that “there is still substantial work ahead to rebuild valuable Atlantic coastal fishery resources such as American shad, river herring, Southern New England American lobster, winter flounder, and weakfish.” 2016 was the 75th anniversary of the ASMFC.
- Maine lawmakers want to create a lottery system for new entry into the state’s lucrative elver fishery. The lottery system would be used when other fishermen leave the fishery. The plan gained support from fishery regulators and industry representatives at a public hearing on Monday. There are currently 419 fishermen in the fishery. The new bill would set an annual cap of 425 fishermen, excluding licenses for federally recognized tribes.
- Maine fishermen had the opportunity this week to express their opinions about the installation of floating wind turbines off Monhegan Island. Their concern was about being able to access fish or lobster without entering a restricted space near the turbines. There are also concerns about gear interactions with the turbines. The ongoing project will install a two 6-megawatt floating turbines 2.5 miles off of the island.
- The Maine Lobstering Union recently purchased the wholesale side of the Trenton Lobster Pound in Trenton, Maine. The Union hopes that lobstermen will now be able to buy and sell their own lobsters there rather than selling them at the dock. The lobster pound has a tank that can hold up to 180,000 pounds of lobster, reported Maine Public Radio.
- A voluntary speed restriction zone is in effect around Martha’s Vineyard through March 8 after 10 North Atlantic right whales were spotted in the area. North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with estimated populations around 500 individuals. Entanglement in fishing gear and vessel collision are major threats to the marine mammal. It is illegal to approach closer than 500 yards of a right whale.
- The National Marine Fisheries Service ruled that the thorny skate will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, saying that the skate is “not currently in danger of extinction” and that they “remain numerous through the greater portion of their range, numbering in the hundreds of millions,” reported the AP. NMFS, however, did agree that their populations have declined. Thorny skates live in the Gulf of Maine, and fishermen have not been allowed to harvest them since 2003, although some are caught as bycatch.