In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 20

The Great South Channel HMA with proposed dredge exemption areas. Image via NOAA Fisheries.

  • NOAA Fisheries is seeking comments on three proposed exemption areas within the Great South Channel Habitat Management Area (HMA) to allow access to historical surfclam fishing grounds. The Great South Channel HMA was established in 2018 to protect “complex benthic habitat that is important for juvenile cod and other groundfish species, but also susceptible to the impacts of fishing.” All mobile-bottom tending gear is currently prohibited within the HMA, but the proposed measures would allow destructive clam and mussel dredge gear in two areas year-round and in one area seasonally (totaling 6.9% of the HMA). Comments will be accepted through October 17, 2019.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council meets next week in Gloucester, MA for its annual September meeting. Usually a three-day affair, the meeting has been extended to four days, running Monday afternoon through Thursday. The Council was originally expected to approve the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for its groundfish monitoring amendment (Amendment 23), which was initiated three years ago. The DEIS, however, is not complete, and “[i]nstead, the Council will use the time at this meeting to gain a detailed understanding of the alternatives and analyses in order to facilitate future decision-making.” The agenda and meeting materials are available here.
  • Undercurrent News reports that Carlos Rafael – currently imprisoned – is one step closer to securing a nearly $46 million deal for seven of his scallop vessels. The owners of the New Bedford-based Buyers and Sellers Exchange (BASE) had attempted to use the courts to prevent Rafael from selling the vessels to Quinn Fisheries. A Superior Court Judge, however, has vacated her original decision, paving the way for Quinn Fisheries to acquire the vessels. Also, two of Rafael’s groundfish vessels that were seized by the federal government were recently sold for $570,000 and $415,000. Read more here.
  • Members of Massachusetts’s congressional delegation – including Senators Warren and Markey and Representatives Lynch, Keating, Moulton, and Kennedy – sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer “urging him to explore new markets for American lobster exports to address the impact of China’s 25 percent tariffs on imported American lobsters.” The lawmakers urged a federal solution to assist lobstermen in addition to ongoing state efforts. According to a press release from Senator Warren’s office, U.S. lobster exports to China have declined more than 80 percent since 2018.
  • A tenth North Atlantic right whale was found dead off the coast of New York this week. The whale has been identified as Snake Eyes, a 40-plus year-old male who was seen entangled in Canadian waters in early August. As WCAI reports, the death draws attention a letter signed by more than a dozen scientists defending the science behind proposed management measures to protect the endangered species. Read or listen to their interview with Scott Landry, director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response at the Center for Coastal Studies.
  • The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the global ocean, but surface temperatures this year have actually been their coolest since 2008. Andy Pershing, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute told Maine Public Radio, “This is the most normal, the most average year that we’ve had in a really, really long time.” Deep waters in the Gulf of Maine, however, have still been one to two degrees warmer the average. As expected, the temperature changes are having variable impacts on the region’s marine life. Read more here.


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