In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, November 17

Kemp's ridley turtles are a small, grayish-green sea turtle species found along the U.S. east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Image via NOAA/NMFS.

  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to continue managing Atlantic menhaden from a single-species perspective rather than managing for their role in the ecosystem. The vote disappointed many fishermen and environmental groups. Additionally, the ASMFC increased the catch limit for menhaden by 8 percent for fishing years 2018-2019; however, due to state allocation measures, not all areas will see an increase.
  • Researchers at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium conducted a successful aerial survey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. In total, there were 27 observations of marine life on the surface, including 25 bottlenose dolphins, 58 common dolphins, 37 Risso’s dolphins, 11 Cuvier’s beaked whales, 4 finback whales, and one sperm whale, according to a blog published by the Center for Ocean Life. Other sightings include sharks and a sunfish. The researchers observed many of the animals feeding and also spotted calves and juveniles.
  • UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology is hoping to research how offshore wind and fishermen can successfully coexist with each other on the water. Deepwater Wind would fund the research as part of their planning for a wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard. States must first approve the plan before research and the project can move forward.
  • The ASMFC is developing an amendment to improve data collection in the lobster fishery. To solicit public comment, the ASMFC will host a series of hearings along the East Coast beginning in January. The first hearing in the New England region is scheduled for January 10 in Scarborough, Maine.
  • A recent op-ed in the Portland Press Herald discusses an important decision for rockweed harvest in Maine. Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments this week about whether or not rockweed harvesters should be able to harvest from private land in the intertidal zone. The case involves legal ambiguities that date back to the colonial era. Some argue that defining rockweed as private property will protect its value as an environmental resource. The annual value of rockweed is estimated to be $20 million.
  • NOAA Fisheries is considering expanding the number of fisheries that participate in its sea turtle protection program to include Mid-Atlantic vessels using gillnets. Currently, the agency places monitors on fishing vessels to collect data in the hopes of minimizing future impacts on sea turtles. NOAA Fisheries said they would pay for the monitors to be placed on vessels if they expand the program. The agency is collecting comments until November 20.
  • This fall, due to a large toxic algae bloom, Maine had to recall 58,500 pounds of blue mussels. In response, the Department of Marine Resources is reassessing it shellfish monitoring practices. Next year, flats will be closed at the first detection of the culprit phytoplankton Pseudo-nitzschia. In past years, they have waited to see if toxin levels change in the next week. Scientists are studying if warming waters have at all contributed to the recent toxic algae blooms.

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