In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 29

A parent puffin must bring an average of 2,500 fish to its hatchling before it grows enough to fledge. Photo Credit: Jud Crawford.

  • Carlos Rafael, “the Codfather,” was sentenced to nearly four years in prison on Monday, but the Judge has yet to decide what will happen with his 13 groundfish vessels and permits. The prosecution, as well as many others interested in the case, argued that the vessels and permits should be forfeited, but the defense argued that forfeiture would be an excessive fine and unconstitutional. If the vessels and permits are forfeited, it’s up to the government to decide what to do with them. One option would be redistribution to others in the fishery. In a recent article, the South Coast Today offers opinions for and against redistribution.
  • At its meeting this week, the New England Fishery Management Council asked NOAA Fisheries to immediately enforce sector regulations and operations plan for groundfish Sector 9 in order to address quota overages caused by Carlos Rafael’s crimes. As a result of Rafael’s criminal activity, Sector 9 exceed its quota by nearly 800,000 pounds over multiple years. The regulations and operations plans have built in penalties for addressing overages, including deducting the overage from future quota, civil penalties, and permit sanctions.
  • The House Subcommittee for Water, Power, and Oceans held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act this week at which many industry members gave testimony. House members agree that the Magnuson-Stevens Act has helped to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks, but many still disagree on the future direction of the Act. Committee member Rep Jared Huffman said that “poison pill” riders have stalled the reauthorization process as people try to exempt fisheries from laws such as the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Protection Act. Huffman is hopeful, though, that a bipartisan bill can still move forward. Read more here.
  • It was a good summer for Atlantic puffins in Maine. Dr. Steve Kress from the Audubon Society told Maine Public Radio that “comparatively cooler waters in early summer were accompanied by an abundance of prey fish such as herring, hake and redfish,” which helped puffin populations succeed. The largest puffin colony is on Eastern Egg Island where there are 172 breeding pairs. Kress, who has led a 40 year effort to restore puffin populations on Maine’s islands, hopes that the numbers will continue to stabilize.

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