Category Archives: Marine Science

A Forage Fish War – Canadian company targets critical forage fish in Atlantic and Gulf

The two U.S. menhaden fisheries are in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf,,, Omega Proteins, headquartered in Canada, has sought certification that the fishery is sustainable.,, Now it has sought the same certification in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a joint statement from the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.,, “The ASA, Theodore Roosevelt , and CCA, have formally objected, That steep price (of MSC certification) caused Sport Fish Magazine writer Doug Olander to pen a satirical op-ed,,,That prompted a swift backlash by Omega Proteins, “According to the ASMFC [Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission], Striped Bass are overfi…>click to read<17:23

MacArtney Lobster Monitoring Tech for SLU

In 2009, MacArtney supplied SLU with a camera and light system that utilised direct telemetry and standard cabling for the original Lobster Sledge. A decade later MacArtney is still collaborating with SLU and has completed the co-design of the Lobster Sledge upgrade that incorporates an HD camera, LED lights, fibre optic multiplexer and interfaces. The system, designed to be towed along the seabed, collects data on the current lobster population. The data collected monitors the lobster population and informs fishing quotas for the southern coast of Norway and the Swedish coast. >click to read<08:44

Winter skate are dying in huge numbers, a new scientific paper points the finger at a big herd of seals

A “striking conservation success” in Atlantic Canada has turned into a “serious conservation problem” as rebounding grey seal herds threaten depleted bottom-feeding fish in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to a new research paper from Canadian and U.S. scientists. The focus is on the winter skate, a little-known shark relative with a flat body and a long tail. “It’s quite dire. The skate have declined by 98 per cent since the mid-80s,” said Doug Swain, a federal fisheries scientist based in Moncton, N.B. The paper concludes grey seals are the likely cause of an “unprecedented” winter skate annual adult mortality rate of between 65 and 70 per cent. >click to read<09:20

OUT TO CATCH THE LAST FISH? Fisheries “expert’s” anti-fisherman rhetoric gets taken to task!

“…most fishermen always want to catch more fish, regardless of how many there are.” This quote from the fisheries “expert” in the article, Warming waters spark marine migration, fish wars >click to read<on the warming ocean, and Joel’s subsequent comment, “And here in lies the problem. Look at what this cubical entrenched pencil pushing empty suit thinks of fishermen. Folks like this need to be taken to task”, inspired a re-post of this anti-fishing propaganda article, OUT TO CATCH THE LAST FISH? It’s a few years old, but sadly, as current as ever!  To be a fisherman, these days, is to have first-hand knowledge of bias and mindless prejudice. Manipulating commercial fishing to save the stocks from “endangerment” and worse, has often been job justification for the political and personal agenda-driven, obsequious, career-climbing government fisheries “scientists” and managers. “Destructive” commercial fishing is also a handy foil for corporate style environmental groups’ fund raising efforts; and diminishing the importance of domestic commercial fishing is also a necessary step in the energy industry’s march into the sea. >click to read< Thank you, Dick.17:02

Big claws: Good for lobster sex life, potentially fatal in the fishing season

Between Arendal and Grimstad, researchers tagged 100 lobsters with acoustic transmitters. With the help of numerous stationary receivers, they were able to track the lobsters’ movements during the fishing season. “How lobsters move around indicates something about their personality. Are they cautious or are they risk-takers? There are advantages and disadvantages to both of those traits”, says marine scientist Even Moland. It turned out that lobsters with a big crusher claw were more likely to end up in a crab pot. >Video, click to read<17:42

Salmon researchers seek funds for expanded expedition in 2020

Organizer Richard Beamish, emeritus scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, is seeking $1.5 million from governments, the private sector and non-profit organizations — the same groups that funded his 2019 expedition. Next year’s survey would again be supported by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, an international organization based in Vancouver. The 2019 expedition was a signature project of the International Year of the Salmon program, which is backed by the Anadromous Fish Commission, as well as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and other partners. >click to read<20:27

Scup, Bluefish, Black Sea Bass, and Monkfish – 2019 Fisheries Stock Assessments

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center would like to inform you of the 2019 stock assessments. During these assessments we will use existing models and data sources to evaluate stock health. Our data come from a variety of sources, including recreational and commercial fishermen, fish dealers, fishery observers, and research surveys. There will be several sets of assessments conducted this year, and the assessment process begins for Scup, Bluefish, Black Sea Bass, and Monkfish on Monday May 20, 2019 with a panel review of scientific information and assessment plans (details below). After this plan review, the assessments will be conducted and later peer reviewed in 2019. >click to read<09:49

NOAA picks URI to lead new ocean exploration consortium

The University of Rhode Island will lead a new $94 million consortium to support ocean exploration, responsible resource management, improved scientific understanding of the deep sea and strengthen the nation’s Blue Economy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today. The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, comprised of five internationally renowned ocean science institutions and led by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, will spend the next five years working closely with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) to survey an estimated 3 billion acres of U.S. ocean territory. >click to read<

Assessing the consequences of oil spills on commercial fish

Each spring, Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) travel from the Barents Sea to spawn further south along the Norwegian coast from Møre to Lofoten, releasing millions of eggs into the ocean. These eggs then begin their own journey, developing into fish larvae as they drift with the currents, north and east towards the Barents Sea. The journey is perilous and their chance of survival is small. For every million eggs, only about 800 larvae survive the first half year. Their fate depends on the movements and prevailing environmental conditions of the North Atlantic Current, >click to read<09:17

International team of salmon scientists back in port, raring for another mission

The organizer of a month-long Gulf of Alaska salmon survey is already thinking about how to raise money for another trip in the winter of 2020, now that the Russian trawler used in the expedition has finished its job and tied up in Nanaimo. “From what I’ve seen, this needs to be done again,” said Richard Beamish, who came up with the idea of the expedition to mark the International Year of the Salmon with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. Future surveys would build on data collected by the 21-member volunteer team of international scientists from the five salmon-producing Pacific Rim countries: Canada, Russia, the U.S., Korea and Japan. >click to read<11:52

From their work at sea and in Nanaimo lab, researchers discover that B.C. coho are wintering in Gulf of Alaska

Onboard DNA analysis of salmon — the first time such complex molecular research has been performed at sea — has discovered that B.C. and Puget Sound coho are wintering in the Gulf of Alaska. The proof that it is possible to perform such analysis shipboard, and with only about $10,000 worth of compact equipment, is considered game-changing by international scientists halfway through a winter research cruise using the chartered Russian trawler Professor Kaganovsky and its crew in the Gulf. >click to read<19:39

How a flipping crab led researchers to discover that a commercially harvested species feeds at methane seeps

Researchers have documented a group of tanner crabs vigorously feeding at a methane seep on the seafloor off British Columbia – one of the first times a commercially harvested species has been seen using this energy source. There are many implications, researchers say, and surprisingly most of them are good. Human consumption of tanner crabs – one of three species sold as snow crabs – that feed on methane-eating bacteria and archaea should not pose a health concern because methane seeps are not toxic environments. The discovery actually may mean that methane seeps could provide some seafloor-dwelling species an important hedge against climate change – because nearly all models predict less food will be falling into the deep sea in coming years >click to read<17:30

Scientists warn drug pollution in rivers reaching damaging levels for animals and ecosystems

Medicines including antibiotics and epilepsy drugs are increasingly being found in the world’s rivers at concentrations that can damage ecosystems, a study has shown. Dutch researchers developed a model for estimating concentrations of drugs in the world’s fresh water systems to predict where they could cause the most harm to the food web. The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, focuses on two particular drugs: antibiotic ciprofloxacin and anti-epileptic drug carbamazepine.,,, Pharmaceutical residues can enter these fresh water systems through waste water from poorly maintained sewer systems, or from run-off over fields for drugs used in livestock. >click to read<

Lobster’s underbelly is as tough as industrial rubber

Flip a lobster on its back, and you’ll see that the underside of its tail is split in segments connected by a translucent membrane that appears rather vulnerable when compared with the armor-like carapace that shields the rest of the crustacean. But engineers at MIT and elsewhere have found that this soft membrane is surprisingly tough, with a microscopic, layered, plywood-like structure that makes it remarkably tolerant to scrapes and cuts. This deceptively tough film protects the lobster’s belly as the animal scuttles across the rocky seafloor. >click to read<11:10

B.C.-led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific salmon stocks

An unprecedented international collaboration could revolutionize salmon science and fisheries management, return forecasting and even hatchery output. Nineteen scientists from Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea are set to probe the secret lives of five Pacific salmon species with a four-week grid search and test fishery across the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition begins next week aboard the Russian research ship MV Professor Kaganovsky. “We know virtually nothing about what happens to salmon once they leave near-shore waters in the Salish Sea,” said expedition organizer Dick Beamish. >click to read<13:56

Sustainability: a flawed concept for fisheries management?

The concept of sustainable fishing is well ingrained in marine conservation and marine governance. However, I argue that the concept is deeply flawed; ecologically, socially and economically. Sustainability is strongly related, both historically and currently, to maximum long-term economic exploitation of a system. Counter-intuitively, in fisheries, achieving this economic exploitation often relies on government subsidies. While many fish populations are not sustainably fished biologically, even ‘sustainably harvesting’ fish results in major ecological changes to marine systems. These changes create unknown damage to ecosystem processes, including carbon capture potential of the ocean. The spatial scale of commercial fishing processes can also lead to social and food security issues in local, coastal communities that rely on fish for dietary needs. A radical alternative proposal is provided to the current situation.,,, MSY, however, has been a mainstay of fisheries policy since the term was introduced in 1954 (Schaefer, 1954), and is covered in many basic ecological textbooks (e.g., Begon et al., 2006). The concept is simple: By Richard Stafford>click to read<21:13

Building blocks of ocean food web in rapid decline as plankton productivity plunges

They’re teeny, tiny plants and organisms but their impact on ocean life is huge.​ Phytoplankton and zooplankton that live near the surface are the base of the ocean’s food system. Everything from small fish, big fish, whales and seabirds depend on their productivity. “They actually determine what’s going to happen, how much energy is going to be available for the rest of the food chain,” explained Pierre Pepin, a senior researcher with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s. Pepin says over the past 3-4 years, scientists have seen a persistent drop in phytoplankton and zooplankton in waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. >click to read<10:16

After six years of tracking mackerel in the North Atlantic, scientists have uncovered a few fishy secrets.

Do mackerel outcompete herring? And does the fact that mackerel are so widespread in the Nordics mean that their populations are booming? Researchers have spent six years trying to answer these and other questions, and the answers are now beginning to come clear. Their efforts are motivated by more than just academic curiosity. Researchers’ recommendations help shape international quotas that help protect fish stocks, which in the case of mackerel have had a rocky history. >click to read<13:14

DFO warns 80% of N.L. snow crab are below fishable size

Eighty per cent of the snow crab in the province’s waters are now smaller than fishable size, and new biological research from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says fishing pressure on the already strained stock is the main problem. “There is a major biological concern here,” said DFO biologist Darrell Mullowney.,, The news comes just as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is set to meet with harvesters about snow crab in a series of meetings being held across the province between November 19 and 29. >click to read<19:44

Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Wild Cod Roam

It took a week for Björn Björnsson to train 20 wild cod. In a compelling demonstration of classical conditioning, the aquaculture researcher at Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute taught the fish to associate a low-frequency sound with a free meal. It only took another day for Björnsson—with the help of one of his trained fish—to teach another 19 wild cod. People might not think of cod as herd animals, but Björnsson says cod are adept at reading social cues to learn where to grab a bite. >click to read<12:10

Scientists Admit ‘Mistakes’ Led To Alarming Results In Major Global Warming Study

The scientists behind a headline-grabbing global warming study did something that seems all too rare these days — they admitted to making mistakes and thanked the researcher, a global warming skeptic, who pointed them out. “When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there,” study co-author Ralph Keeling told The San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday. Their study, published in October, used a new method of measuring ocean heat uptake and found the oceans had absorbed 60 more heat than previously thought. >click to read<12:46

Oceanographers produce first-ever images of entire cod shoals

For the most part, the mature Atlantic cod is a solitary creature that spends most of its time far below the ocean’s surface, grazing on bony fish, squid, crab, shrimp, and lobster—unless it’s spawning season, when the fish flock to each other by the millions,forming enormous shoals that resemble frenzied, teeming islands in the sea. >click to read<14:33

Barndoor skates, once a textbook example of overfishing, have recovered enough to allow fishing

Barndoor skates were once thought to be so overfished that a highly-publicized paper from 1998 noted that they had been “driven to near extinction without anyone noticing.” One of the largest skates, barndoor skates can reach over 5 feet in wingspan, which is large enough that their diet includes small sharks like spiny dogfish; for a skate, that’s about as close as it gets to charismatic megafauna! >click to read<09:16

Researchers Had ‘No Idea’ Killer Whales Could Dive This Deep

Killer whales in the South Atlantic Ocean are willing to dive more than a thousand feet more than previously recorded—if they are certain to get a snack at the end of it, researchers have discovered. And the best way to guarantee food is to steal it. BC-based marine researcher Jared Towers witnessed a tagged killer whale diving 3,566 feet to snag some toothfish off a long commercial fishing line. More than 60 killer whales and 40 sperm whales were studied, though just one of each was tagged because whales aren’t particularly cooperative, said Towers. >click to read<20:00

Killer Whale Populations At Risk from Toxic Chemicals

A paper in the Sept. 28 issue of Science says killer whales are at great risk, but not from climate change, loss of habitat or loss of their prey. It will be due to something that sounds very 1970s – PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl. PCBs are human-made chemicals used for making plastics, electronics, lubricants, heat transformers and other materials and technology. In the late 1970s, studies showed the harmful effects of PCB on humans and on wildlife, such as birds, otters and seals. According to a 2017 paper, killer whale populations off the coast of the most industrialized parts of Europe are close to extinction. >click to read<12:02

Chile purse seine project nominated for conservation award

In October, the Pink-footed Shearwaters begin to arrive on Robinson Crusoe Island, off the coast of Chile. “These [fishing fleets] are fishing in the same areas as these birds. They are capturing the very fish these seabirds eat,” said Cristian Suazo, a member of the Albatross Task Force Chile, which is working to combat bycatch. “The fleets are also out at the same time these birds, many of which are migratory, have the greatest need for food to both refuel and to feed their young.”,,, In Chile, the ATF has been working since 2007, where it began by trying to reduce bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. In 2013 though, the team noted that there was also bycatch coming from purse seine fisheries, and began working to reduce bycatch in this industry as well. >click to read<17:43

Wait, So How Much of the Ocean Is Actually Fished?

How much of the world’s oceans are affected by fishing? In February, a team of scientists led by David Kroodsma from the Global Fishing Watch published a paper that put the figure at 55 percent—an area four times larger than that covered by land-based agriculture. The paper was widely covered, with several outlets leading with the eye-popping stat that “half the world’s oceans [are] now fished industrially.” Ricardo Amoroso from the University of Washington had also been trying to track global fishing activity and when he saw the headlines, he felt that the 55 percent figure was wildly off. He and his colleagues re-analyzed the data that the Global Fishing Watch had made freely available. And in their own paper, published two weeks ago, they claim that industrial fishing occurs over just 4 percent of the ocean. How could two groups have produced such wildly different answers using the same set of data? >click to read<21:21

Wahle named director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine

University of Maine marine sciences research professor Richard Wahle has been named director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, effective Sept. 1. He succeeds Robert Bayer, who has directed the institute since 1995 and is retiring from UMaine this year. Wahle joined UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences in 2009. He is based at the University’s Darling Marine Center, where he will continue to teach and conduct research. In 1989, Wahle founded the American Lobster Settlement Index, a program that now monitors the number of juvenile lobsters that settle to the seafloor at over 80 sampling sites from Rhode Island to Atlantic Canada. The index sheds light on the ocean processes that deliver lobster larvae to their rocky coastal nurseries, and serves as a predictor of trends in recruitment to the fishery. >click to read<10:36

So that’s how you deal with lobsters

Christie Wilcox describes a terrible experiment. Investigators were mystified >click here< by an area around a Pacific island that was empty of lobsters, so they dumped a bunch of lobsters there to see what happened. And then… “Visibility was great that day, and virtually the entire sea bottom started to move,” he said. That movement was countless whelks. They started to climb onto the newcomers, sticking to their legs. “I didn’t know then, but they’d started to suck them alive, basically. It was like a horror movie,” Barkai said. “It actually was a bit frightening to watch.” The lobsters simply didn’t know how to respond. They were outnumbered and overwhelmed. “To my horror, in about 30, 40 minutes, all the lobsters were killed.”  Barkai managed to bring two whelk-coated lobsters back to the surface to show the crew—which is when the first photo in this piece was shot.>click to read<19:59

New England lobster fishermen are asked to keep an eye out for tagged lobsters

New England’s lobster fishermen are being asked to keep an eye out for tagged lobsters that are part of a survey of the valuable crustaceans. The lobsters are tagged with green bars that say “SNECVTS” and black acoustic tags. They are part of a tagging program that’s part of a southern New England lobster study being conducted from May to November by Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation and the University of Rhode Island. >click to read< If you find a lobster with a green “SNECVTS” t-bar tag behind the carapace or a black acoustic tag on the carapace, please contact: Michael Long at (401) 515-4892 or [email protected] >click to read<08:33