In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 16

Offshore wind is expanding in New England. Image of Block Island Wind Farm via NOAA Sea Grant.

  • NMFS hosted four meetings in Maine this week about proposed rules to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in fishing gear. Conservation groups stressed the urgency of the issue at the meetings and as the Portland Press Herald reports, “Regulators claim that even one right whale death a year could doom the species to extinction.” The proposed rules, however, continue to be a point of contention for Maine lobstermen. CLF staff attorney Emily Green stated at the meeting, “This isn’t about environmental or conservationists versus lobstermen. This is about a real problem that we collectively have as Mainers and New Englanders that we need to figure out a solution to collectively.” The meetings continue next week in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced last week that it will develop and seek public comment on a supplement to the draft environmental impact statement for the offshore wind project planned for south of Martha’s Vineyard rather than issue the final environmental impact statement. Vineyard Wind was expected to begin construction on the project later this year, but the timeline will now be revised given BOEM’s decision. The Cape Cod Times reports, “BOEM’s schedule had begun to slip as [NMFS, the EPA, and the Coast Guard] all urged the bureau to consider a wider cumulative analysis than what was in the draft….The supplement will more fully analyze the Vineyard Wind plan in light of several potential industrial-sized wind farms that could be developed in the federal lease area south of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”
  • Carlos Rafael—a.k.a. the Codfather who is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence for falsifying landing reports and other records, tax evasion, and cash smuggling—settled additional Clean Water Act violations. The federal government had filed the complaint against Rafael in April when one of his vessels was caught discharging oily bilge and dumping used oil filters into the ocean. Rafael will pay $500,000 in fines and the captain of the vessel will pay $11,000. Repairs to the vessel and crew training will also be required in order to comply with Coast Guard regulations regarding bilge capacity and proper handling of oily waste.
  • NOAA confirmed that July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded. The global average temperature was 62.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.7 degrees higher than the average for the 20th Live Science reports, “January to July 2019 on land was the third warmest such period on record…behind only 2016 and 2017 marks. Sea temperatures during that period were the second highest ever, behind only 2016.”

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