In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, August 2

Harbor seals in Chatham, MA. Image via NOAA Fisheries.

  • NOAA Fisheries will be conducting eight public scoping meetings throughout New England to help inform its Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. The agency is “requesting comments on management optionsparticularly including information about operational challenges, time, and costs required to modify gear by changing configurations such as traps per trawl to reduce endline numbers, installing new line or sleeves and by expanding gear marking requirements.” The plan is intended to reduce serious injury and mortality of North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpbacks and fin whales. The first meeting is next Thursday, August 8th in Narragansett, RI.
  • As the Washington Post reports, “It’s been a devastating summer” for the North Atlantic right whale. Eight right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters since June, half of which were breeding females. With barely 400 whales left, this is equal to two percent of the entire population. The Washington Post reports, “[Canada’s fisheries minister] says it’s not easy to strike a balance between protecting the whales and reducing the impact on industry. He said the welfare of the species is ‘the first and foremost thing we have to be focused on.’”
  • A article in The Hill this week talks about the impacts of climate change on Maine’s lobster industry. In recent years, warming waters have created “some of the best years on record for Maine lobstermen.” But will they last? Lobsters are likely to move north as waters continue to warm. The shift would be particularly worrisome for small towns like Stonington where lobster has become a major economic driver. Read more here.
  • NOAA Fisheries is exploring the use of electronic reporting for data collection in recreational fisheries. This would include using smartphones or tablets to record, send, and store data; website options may also be available. According to the agency, “Electronic reporting has the potential to reduce data collection costs and improve the quality of reported information.” Shoreside sampling would still be conducted to verify electronic reports, but efforts have been underway to advance electronic reporting since at least 2012. Read more here.
  • Fishermen on Cape Cod are once again calling for a seal cull, blaming them eating too many fish, annoying people and fishermen, attracting sharks, and polluting waters. Seal numbers have increased recently; NOAA estimates that there are between 22,000 and 33,000 gray seals and about 75,000 harbor seals in U.S. waters, not just on Cape Cod. Answering if there are too many seals is a tough question, though. Sharon Young of the Humane Society of the United States told WBUR, “I think there’s a sometimes-naïve notion that this is a discrete population that we have some ability to control. If I kill all the squirrels on my bird feeder this week, within a fairly short period of time, there will be other squirrels because I have an attractive resource for them.” Overall, more research is needed about the combined impacts of seals, climate change, pollution, and historic overfishing on fish stocks.

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