In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, April 19

A New England trawl vessel sets out a net. Image via NOAA.

  • To help settle disputes between lobstermen and aquaculture producers, a Maine state bill proposes creating a task force “to research the current aquaculture production levels, capacity, best practices and its environmental impacts.” A lobsterman on Chebeague Island who supports the bill told the Bangor Daily News that aquaculture has “become divisive in the fishing community…What we really need is a task force [that] looks at the rules, to make them fair between lobstermen and the aquaculture industry.” Some in the aquaculture industry, though, think that the process is already “stringent and effective.”
  • A federal judge upheld NOAA Fisheries’ changes to essential fish habitat protections in New England that were challenged by the Conservation Law Foundation last year. The changes include a 25 percent decrease in the size of the Western Gulf of Maine closure. Court House News reports, “[C]ourts give agencies great deference when they make complex judgements requiring expert scientific input.” Senior Counsel for Conservation Law Foundation Peter Shelley said, “Our region continues to suffer from ineffective fishery management and several overfished stocks. These controllable problems are now being compounded by the negative effects of climate change in the Gulf of Maine. Congress has specifically directed fishery managers to protect the habitats that are necessary for healthy fisheries, even if that protection causes some short-term economic impacts.”
  • A federal appellate court upheld NOAA Fisheries’ method for assessing bycatch in New England fisheries. The method had been challenged by Oceana in 2015. Seafood Source reports that the three judges said “the U.S. Congress mandates that NOAA Fisheries develop a standardized reporting methodology, but how it’s done is left strictly to the agency itself.” Read more here.
  • Gloucester fishing captain Joe Sanfilippo has launched “Extreme Gloucester Fishing,” a series of courses that uses a “from-the-deck-up approach” to teach fishing basics. Topics include net mending, vessel handling, fishery regulations, fishing history and more. AP New reports that Sanfilippo hopes the courses will help ease new fishermen into the industry as the current fleet continues to age.
  • At its April meeting this week, the New England Fishery Management Council approved a range of alternatives for consideration in the groundfish monitoring amendment. There will be an opportunity, however, for the Groundfish Committee to further develop the alternatives before analysis. The monitoring amendment is intended to improve reliability and accountability of catch reporting in the groundfish fishery. The Council is expected to approve a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and hold public hearings on the amendment later this year.

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