In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 28

Gulf of Maine cod has been overfished for decades. Image via NOAA.

  • NOAA Fisheries sent letters to 14 of 19 New England groundfish sectors this week informing them that monitoring coverage requirements are not being met. In the current fishing year, monitors are supposed to be on 15 percent of sector trips, but ten sectors are below 10 percent – some as low as 1.8 percent. Regional Administrator Michael Pentony said the low coverage levels are the result of a number of issues, including shortage of observers, refusal to carry an observer, or not notifying NOAA of a trip to avoid being assigned an observer. Reports of low coverage levels come as the New England Fishery Management Council is developing an amendment to revamp the monitoring program in the groundfish fishery.
  • NOAA Fisheries has issued new civil penalties in the case of the Codfather. Seafood Source reports that the agency “called for the revocation of 17 operator permits held by Rafael’s captains and increased the civil penalties associated with the case from just under $1 million to more than $3 million.” NOAA Fisheries now alleges 88 total fishing violations. Former Regional Administrator John Bullard said that it “defies logic” to think that Rafael acted alone and added, “I wish every member of our enforcement branch godspeed that they root out every single criminal that dishonors the honest fishermen I know.”
  • A federal judge in New Orleans say NOAA Fisheries cannot implement rules on aquaculture, halting plans for industrial offshore aquaculture in U.S federal waters. The decision comes from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety. The Associated Press reports that NOAA is considering an appeal, but NOAA spokeswoman Jennie Lyons said, “NOAA remains committed to expanding the social, environmental, and economic benefits of sustainable marine aquaculture in the U.S.” She further added, “Given conflicting court decisions and the desire for regulatory certainty, NOAA supports congressional efforts to clarify the agency’s statutory authority to regulate aquaculture.”
  • The Northeast Fisheries Science Center recently released a report titled, “North Atlantic Right Whales – Evaluating Their Recovery Challenges in 2018.” The right whale population has been in decline for at least the last 8 years due to increased mortality and decreased birth rates. The report says, “An encounter with fishing gear is the most frequent cause of documented right whale serious injuries and deaths in recent year,” and the “odds of an entanglement event are now increasing by 6.3% per year.” The report discusses other human impacts such as ship strikes as well as environmental changes affecting right whales. Find the full report here.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council voted this week on a new way to set Atlantic herring catch limits that will account for their role in the ecosystem. A 12-mile buffer zone was also approved that will prohibit midwater trawls from fishing too close to shore. Erica Fuller from Conservation Law Foundation commented at the Council, “The population is stressed, and we really need to start building resiliency.”
  • Maine’s Department of Public Health and Human Services is investigating Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound for using marijuana to mellow lobsters before boiling. The Boston Globe reports that the restaurant “remains open but has stopped allowing customers to request meat from crustaceans sedated with marijuana.”

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