In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, February 16

Often victims of bycatch, river herring and shad populations have dwindled to historic lows. Image via NOAA/GARFO.

  • The New York Times is the latest to cover the story of Carlos Rafael and the impacts of his crimes. The article highlights the unknown future of Rafael’s permits and his home fishing port, New Bedford. Many fishermen in New Bedford have been forced to stop fishing since the feds shut down Rafael’s sector. Read the New York Times article here.
  • Seth Moulton told the Gloucester Daily Times that President Trump’s FY19 budget proposal is “a recipe for disaster” and demonstrates that “President Trump does not value fishermen.” The proposed budget cuts over $1 billion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including a 14 percent reduction for NOAA Fisheries and a 25 percent reduction for NOAA Law Enforcement. NOAA Fisheries programs affected by the proposed budget include fisheries science, data collection and stock assessments, funding for catch shares, and cooperative research programs.
  • NOAA Fisheries has updated its pre-trip notification system that is used by the Northeast groundfish fishery. Participating fishermen must notify NOAA Fisheries before a groundfish trip so that they can be assigned a monitor. The Gloucester Daily Times reports that the new system is supposed to “ensure ‘fair and accurate monitoring’ across the groundfish fleet.” The agency will be providing training sessions on the new technology. In the 2018 fishing year, 15 percent of sector trips will be monitored.
  • Underwater microphones could help track right whales and prevent entanglement or ship strike. A new study analyzed “passive acoustic monitoring” data from 2004 to 2014 to study spatio-temporal movements of right whales. The Portland Press Herald reported on some potential benefits of underwater microphones, such as around the clock detection and real-time data transmission. The cost of such systems, however, is still very high.
  • David Cousens is stepping down as head of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Cousens has led the organization for 27 years. Cousens helped promote various conservation measures such as v-notching and also promoted transferring management of lobster from the New England Fishery Management Council to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
  • River herring populations are still at historic lows in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) hosted a forum this week to discuss the species and possible management measures. The meeting was attended by federal and state regulators, harbor masters, fishermen, among others. The tribe has installed underwater video monitors to track herring runs, which showed that fewer than 23,000 fish passed through last year. Historically, over a million fish would be documented. Habitat loss, climate change, and overfishing are all contributing to the decline.

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