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In the News
Fish Talk in the News – Friday, March 15
The Maine elver season starts March 22. Image via dec.ny.gov.
- Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) reintroduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act this week. The bipartisan House bill “direct[s] the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work with state and local experts to assess the likely impacts of acidification on coastal communities and identify gaps in knowledge,” reports the Portland Press Herald. A Senate companion bill was also introduced by Congresswoman Murkowski (R-AK).
- NOAA Fisheries increased the common pool possession and trip limit for Gulf of Maine cod and witch flounder for the remainder of the fishing year (through April 30). According to quota reports, only 44.9% and 28.2% of the Gulf of Maine cod and witch flounder quotas have been caught, respectively. The agency took this action “to provide additional fishing opportunities and facilitate harvest of the quota for Gulf of Maine cod and witch flounder.”
- The New England Fishery Management Council is soliciting public input on whether to implement a limited-access program for groundfish for-hire vessels. There will be seven in-person listening sessions and one webinar to discuss the topic. See here for the full schedule. Executive Director for the Council Tom Nies told Newburyport News, “We know the recreational fishery has many differing opinions about this issue. Before we sketch out the details of a limited access program in an amendment to the groundfish plan, we want to hear from impacted fishermen about whether they want us to embark down this road.”
- Atlantic mackerel vessels will be restricted to 20,000 pounds of mackerel per trip for the remainder of 2019. Bangor Daily News reports, “federal rules state that the mackerel fishery must be restricted once fishermen approach their limit for the catch of river herring and shad.” According to NOAA, fishermen have caught 95% of this catch cap.
- A Massachusetts bill that would reform lobster processing laws in the state passed the Senate last week. The bill, introduced by Senator Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, would allow wholesale dealers to process and import unfrozen lobster parts as well as sell processed lobster. The Senate and House versions of the bill now need to be reconciled.
- In preparation for the elver fishing season, Maine wants to institute new requirements to deter illegal sales of baby eels, which can sell for $1,000 per pound at the dock. “The Maine Department of Marine Resources wants to add a requirement that baby eel exporters notify the Maine Marine Patrol 48 hours before preparing to pack and ship the eels. The officer will then witness the packaging,” reports the Portland Press Herald. DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher still needs to approve the new requirements.