In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 22

A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. Photo by Brian Skerry.

  • In a letter to NOAA last month, Governor Baker urged that forfeiture funds from the Carlos Rafael case should be used towards electronic monitoring in New England’s groundfish fishery. Baker also requested that the forfeited permits be distributed among the Massachusetts fleet. Rafael’s sentencing hearing is next week, September 25-26 in Boston, MA, at which time we will learn the penalties that the Codfather faces for his crimes. A handful of court documents related to the sentencing hearing, including information on a deal with a potential purchaser, are now available to the public.
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended to the president allowing commercial fishing in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Zinke’s report was leaked to the media earlier this week and includes recommendations for modifying ten national monuments. In a recent editorial, the Seattle Times has called on Congress to challenge Zinke’s attack on America’s public lands.
  • Using a new model to estimate abundance, scientists have confirmed that North Atlantic right whales are in a population decline. North Atlantic right whales are highly endangered, and had been making a comeback. In 2010, it’s estimated that their population reached 482 individuals with 200 females, up from 270 individuals in 1990. In 2015, however, the population was estimated to be 458 with only 186 females. This season there have been 14 confirmed deaths. According to the New England Fisheries Science Center, “The new estimates are less affected by changes in whale distribution, less reliant on sighting frequency, and better account for animals that are still alive but not frequently seen.”
  • While the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow undergoes repairs, the NEFSC Fall Bottom Trawl Survey of Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine will continue on board the NOAA Ship Pisces; however, the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England will not be surveyed. The number of stations in the survey will be the similar to previous surveys, but fewer data will be collected because of limited capacity on the Pisces. If all goes well, the trawl survey is scheduled for October 16 – November 20.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council meets next week, September 26-28, in Gloucester, MA. The Council will be discussing a range of issues from monitoring in the groundfish fishery to ecosystem-based fisheries management. The meeting is open to the public and will also be available via webinar.

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