Category Archives: Mid Atlantic

Is the ocean ‘land owned or controlled’ by feds? Antiquities Act lawsuit aims to find out

Despite a lifetime of fishing off the New England coast, Eric Reid was like a fish out of water when President Barack Obama grabbed a piece of his livelihood. “I’m just a fish guy but I learned a lot about politics in a big hurry,” said Reid, general manager of Seafreeze Shoreside Inc., a seafood processing facility in Rhode Island. He is referring to Obama’s September 2016 designation of nearly 5,000 square miles of ocean as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, using his unilateral authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906.,,, We’re losing opportunity as we speak,” Reid told Watchdog.org. “It could easily be millions of dollars just this winter.” Reid is part of a coalition of New England fishing organizations suing the federal government over the designation. The Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the coalition in Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross. PLF attorney Jonathan Wood says the economic impact is magnified when considering the shoreside businesses that have grown up around the commercial fishing industry. “It’s not just the fishermen. It’s all the bait dealers, the mechanics and the marinas and all the businesses that only exist because there’s a commercial fishing industry,” he told Watchdog.org. read the article here 09:37

After a record run of squid, local fishermen warily eye competition, regulatory challenges

It was the best single run of longfin squid anyone on the East Coast had ever seen – and it happened fast and was over fast. In two months last summer, June and July, the East Coast-based squid fleet landed approximately 14 million pounds, with Rhode Island landing more than 50 percent of that quota, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration landing reports. “I’ve never seen anything like it. The squid just kept coming,” said Point Judith fisherman Jeff Wise of Narragansett. “I’ve never seen volume and catch rates that high before.”,,,Three policy issues surfaced in recent months that could affect Rhode Island squid vessels and processors. One concerns managing the number of squid permits allowed, an issue perennially raised by the commercial fishing industry. The other two concern the possible loss of fishing ground – one by proposed wind farms off Long Island, and the other from lobbying pressure for a buffer zone in a key squid area south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Big read! Read the article here 07:47

T-shirts designed to help protect an endangered species: the fisherman.

Jason Davis, founder of Loggerhead Printing located in Sneads Ferry, is making waves with his new T-shirt that reads, Protect The Fisherman. Protect An Endangered Species. It’s his creative response to the new proposed regulations passed down by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, which has the potential to limit when and where fisherman can collect their daily bread. Though these regulations are not formally enforced yet, their potential impact has many commercial fishermen and the fish markets that rely on them fearful. Across the board, popular fish markets from Sneads Ferry to Jacksonville and even Emerald Isle refuse to comment on this touchy subject. It’s an issue that could impact the way they and their families in our coastal community live their life. A portion of the sale proceeds will go toward the North Carolina Fisheries Association. read the story here 11:53

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for March 20, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here  10:15

UMass Dartmouth awarded $1M for scallop, flounder fisheries research

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth scientists will receive $1 million in federal research funds to improve management of the scallop and flounder fisheries.The funding, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center and New England Fishery Management Council Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program, was awarded last week to the researchers at the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology.Projects will focus on bycatch reduction, scallop biomass and improving the understanding of scallop biology. The scallop survey research will be led by Kevin Stokesbury, while Daniel Georgiana will expand on previous sea scallop gray-meat research. Link 11:51

2017-2018 Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Recommended Awards Announced – Click here to read about the projects

Problems surface at Fulton Fish Market

Late last month in the Bronx, one of the city’s oldest and largest seafood wholesalers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The problems of M. Slavin & Sons Ltd. and its 80-year-old patriarch, Herb Slavin, could affect far more than creditors and its 105 workers, who fillet fish, drive delivery trucks and handle sales at its headquarters in the New Fulton Fish Market. The century-old firm is the largest tenant of the Hunts Point market and the fourth in as many months to have hit a financial wall. The three previous casualties are gone for good, leaving the sprawling facility, which is run as a cooperative, with a 30% vacancy rate. Some of the 30 or so remaining tenants fear that Slavin’s misfortune could drag them down, as they would have to pick up its share of the rent. “If Slavin goes out, that will be a big hurt,” says Joseph Sciabarra, owner of Mt. Sinai Fish Inc. “They pay rent on 15% of the building.” continue reading the story here 08:06

Pamlico chamber to host meeting on shrimp proposals

The Pamlico Chamber of Commerce will hear Tuesday about the potential local effects from a recent Marine Fisheries Commission approval of changes to rules in the shrimping industry. The chamber membership will also hear about plans to start a new civic organization in the county. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Pamlico Community College’s Delamar Center and it is open to the public. The major focus will be on the February MFC vote on a rule-making petition brought by the N.C. Wildlife Federation that could ultimately limit shrimping to three days on the Intracoastal Waterway and other estuaries and four days on the ocean up to three miles out, among other proposals. Jerry Schill, president of the commercial fishing lobby group North Carolina Fisheries Association will be the keynote speaker. continue reading the story here 20:41:1

Leaking sewer pipes caused Shore river pollution, state says

State environmental officials say they’ve located and eliminated a major source of pollution of the Shark River, a popular body of water in Monmouth County where shellfish harvesting was suspended late last year because of health dangers there. Engineers and scientists have traced a major source of river pollution to two leaking municipal sewer lines that spilled sewage into a stormwater discharge pipe at West Sylvania Avenue in Neptune City, said state Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. The city has since repaired those pipes, Martin added. But that doesn’t mean shellfish harvesting in the river will immediately reopen. continue reading the story here 13:03

Congressman Jones Testifies On Behalf Of North Carolina Shrimpers at the U.S. International Trade Commission

Today at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) testified on behalf of Eastern North Carolina shrimpers in strong support of continuing anti-dumping duty orders against imported warmwater shrimp from Brazil, China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The ITC first enacted these orders more than 10 years ago to offset cheating by foreign producers, and to help level the playing field for American shrimpers. ‘Shrimping is an integral part of Eastern North Carolina’s heritage and economy,’ said Congressman Jones. ‘Hard working Eastern North Carolina fishing families have been devastated by unfairly traded foreign shrimp. If these orders aren’t continued, I have no doubt that producers from communist China, Vietnam and elsewhere will start illegally dumping shrimp into our market again. That is unacceptable, and I hope the ITC will stand up for American workers.’ Click here to read the rest 16:29

GARFO: At-Sea Monitoring 2017 Coverage Levels for Groundfish Sector Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces that for fishing year 2017 the total target at-sea monitoring coverage level is 16 percent of all groundfish sector trips.  This target coverage level is a 2 percentage point increase from the 2016 coverage level (14 percent). As the target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past 3 full groundfish fishing years, this level is set based on data from the 2013-2015 fishing years. Federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) requirements will partially satisfy the 16 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will therefore actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 16 percent of their groundfish trips, but the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates, which are not yet out. Read the press release here, For more information, please read the Summary of Analysis Conducted to Determine At-Sea Monitoring Requirements for Multispecies Sectors FY2017  13:59

UPDATED: GOP Kicks Off Effort To Roll Back Obama’s Monument Designations

House lawmakers kicked off their effort to push back against national monuments designations, targeting the large swaths of ocean the Obama administration made off limits to fishing. “I don’t believe the Antiquities Act should have ever been applied to oceans,” Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young said during a Wednesday hearing on marine monument designations. “There was never intent of that.” Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources have long criticized former President Barack Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act to put millions of square miles off limits to commercial fishing with little to no input from locals.  New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who couldn’t attend the hearing due to a snow storm, is a Democrat who represents a Massachusetts community dependent on fishing. Mitchell wants to change how national monuments are designated to include more local input. Mitchell was not a fan of Obama unilaterally designating the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in September. continue reading the story here 16:02

Fishing Industry Tells Committee Regulations Go Too Far – Allegations of bad science and lobbying by overzealous environmentalists dominated talks on marine sanctuary and monument designations during a Congressional hearing Wednesday. Read the story here 18:02

No sanctuary for fishermen

Sanctuaries are designated areas intended to provide a safe haven and protection. But for the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding tributaries, the word “sanctuary” is more often associated with anguish. So when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries initiated the designation process for Mallows Bay – Potomac River on October 7 of 2015, the watermen of the Potomac River began to grow wary of their future. On February 1, an assorted group of commercial fishermen from all across the Northern Neck of Virginia met with Maryland commercial fishermen at Mundy Point at Pride of Virginia Seafood and Trucking, Inc. to form together as the newly named Potomac River Working Watermen Association (PRWWA). One month later, on March 2, they held their second meeting to discuss their plan of action in opposition of the Mallows Bay – Potomac River sanctuary proposal. continue reading the story here 14:35

Fisherman badly burned in Jersey Shore rental house explosion files lawsuit

As he reached to turn on a light switch in the Point Pleasant Beach house he was renting in 2015, Kurt Wagner saw a spark, and then the small cottage exploded. Wagner, who authorities say suffered burns on 40 to 50 percent of his body, is now suing the owner of the cottage for injuries and property he lost in the blast that destroyed the home. Wagner spent 31 days in the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Epstein said. He said Wagner missed work and was unable to return to the commercial fishing job he had prior to the explosion. Epstein said Wagner had just returned to the Crooks Lane cottage after a three-day fishing trip. He awoke shortly before 2 a.m. to the smell of gas and went to turn on a light in the bathroom of the cottage. continue reading the story here 11:03

Oversight Hearing on Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:00 AM

Oversight Hearing on: “Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries”  Click here to read the memo  Witnesses and Testimony: Dr. John Bruno Professor, Department of Biology University of North Carolina, Mr. Chett Chiasson Executive Director Greater Lafourche Port Commission,  Mr. Brian Hallman Executive Director American Tunaboat Association, The Honorable Jon Mitchell Mayor City of New Bedford Click here @ 10:00am and listen to the hearing. 19:05

Maryland’s DNR chief won’t say why he fired longtime manager of crab program

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark J. Belton on Monday offered lawmakers no explanation for why he fired the longtime manager of the state’s crab program days after watermen complained to Gov. Larry Hogan about the employee. Belton repeatedly declined to justify the dismissal during a joint hearing with the House and Senate environmental committees, as Democratic lawmakers questioned whether the termination of , a 28-year state employee, was politically motivated. “Isn’t it true that since you couldn’t give these watermen what they wanted by changing crab policy, you gave them something else — Brenda Davis’s job?” asked Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s).Belton, who said he could not comment on personnel matters, said that critics were “trying to make connections where there are none” and that Hogan (R) had nothing to do with the dismissal. “It was my decision, and my decision alone,” he said. continue reading the story here 08:22

N.J.’s ocean canyons: Will these treasures be preserved like national parks?

Because about 75 to 100 miles off the coast of New Jersey — where the continental shelf divides shallow coastal waters and the deep sea — a tale of two canyons is in play involving these geological hot spots. The Baltimore Canyon and the Hudson Canyon, both considered national treasures, are among about 70 such areas along the Mid-Atlantic coastline that are prized by fishermen for their rich species diversity and abundance of marine life. “The canyons are where the fish are … they’re important resources that support our fisheries,” said Michael Luisi, chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, a Dover, Del.-based fishery management group representing the interests of commercial fishermen from New York to North Carolina. “By blocking this designation, the fishing industry is being selfish and only hurting themselves in the long run,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Read the story here 13:30

German company eyes wind farm project off Fire Island  

“The idea that you can just show up and stick a flag in the ocean floor and say it’s mine without regard to the fishing community it will displace is unconscionable and un-American,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.A German renewable-energy company has submitted an unsolicited bid for more than 40,000 acres of water rights due south of Fire Island for the first phase of a wind-turbine array of up to 400 megawatts. Maps submitted with the project indicate it would place 30 to 50 turbines around 600 feet tall in an area that extends from Bayport to Moriches, starting around 12 miles from shore. The project would be east of another wind-energy area that was federally auctioned in December to Norway-based Statoil for $42 million. Both projects, which would require numerous state and federal permits, are in areas considered vital to fishing interests; the Statoil project is already the subject of a federal lawsuit seeking to block it and preserve squid, scallop and bottom-fishing grounds. Called the NY4 Excelsior Wind Park, the latest project is being proposed by PNE Wind, a German developer of onshore and offshore wind projects with a U.S. base in Chicago. (we are opposed) Read the story here 07:54

MD lawmakers call hearing on DNR crab manager’s firing

Maryland lawmakers have scheduled a special hearing to investigate the Hogan administration’s firing of the state’s longtime manager of the blue crab fishery. The House Environment and Transportation Committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee plan to meet jointly Monday to seek more information on the termination last month of Brenda Davis. A 28-year employee of the state Department of Natural Resources, Davis was dismissed Feb. 21 after a small group of watermen complained about her and crabbing regulations to Gov. Larry Hogan. Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat, said the committees want to know whether politics is influencing science and scientific decision-making in the department. “We have to shine a light on the firing of Brenda Davis,” Pinsky said Thursday. “It seems that the Hogan administration has made her a sacrificial lamb to a small group of watermen who have, to date, not been able to change state crabbing policy.” continue reading the story here 20:17

Fishermen concerned about loss of fishing grounds: Deepwater holds hearing on planned wind farm off Rhode Island

Developers of LIPA’s planned offshore wind farm gave the first glimpse Thursday of the project’s proposed undersea cable route and connecting point in the Hamptons, drawing concern from fishermen who fear loss of fishing grounds. About 75 people showed up for the meeting in East Hampton. Many in attendance were fishermen concerned about the loss of fishing grounds and navigational hazards because of turbine and cable placement. “The cable runs right through the heart of where I fish,” said Montauk commercial fisherman Richard Jones. Al Shaffer said his lobster fishing wouldn’t be impacted, adding that the cable’s placement would mean the end for trawling in Napeague Bay. “This will close it down” he said. (Deepwater chief executive Jeff) Grybowski said trawl fishing, with heavy, bottom dragging nets, could happen around turbines that are expected to be about a mile apart but Montauk fisherman Dave Aripotch said he wouldn’t risk it. “You can’t drag through this,” he said. Video, read the story here 08:30

Trump asked to remove all marine monument fishing prohibitions established by the past two administrations

The request is from the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Rob Bishop, and American Samoa’s Congresswoman Aumua Amata. The letter says prohibitions on commercial fishing in marine monuments, or reserves, has impacted the US fishing fleet as well as forcing one cannery operation in Pago Pago to close. According to the two Republicans, closing US waters to domestic fisheries is federal overreach and obstructs well managed, sustainable US fishing industries in favour of foreign counterparts. The letter says over half of US waters in the Pacific have been closed to commercial fishing by a stroke of the pen without specific evidence, socioeconomic analysis, or a deliberative and public process. Link 08:10

Cod Found Once Again in Cold Ocean Waters off New York Harbor

Over the last several years, one fish in particular has been making a slow, but steady comeback in the offshore environment of the northwestern North Atlantic. It was a fish that was so plentiful at one time that it filled the cold waters of New England’s rocky coastline, so much so that early Europeans named a large peninsula in Massachusetts after the fish. Cod, as declared by both the Boston Globe and the New Scientist, are making a comeback, after decades of strict government regulations. Last year, the Boston Globe wrote that the Canadian fishing authorities released a report in spring 2016 suggesting “cod are finally making a comeback….The report found that the adult population of northern cod had more than doubled in size over the past three years, and it estimates that the spawning stock will double again within the next three years — bringing it two-thirds of the way back to a healthy fishery.” It’s not just in New England and Canada either. Nearby recreational fisherman out of New York City and along Long Island to Montauk and down the Jersey Shore to Point Pleasant for the last several years have been finding more cod while angling out in the ocean during winter or early spring cod fishing trips. Read the article here 08:46

New England fishermen challenge Obama’s Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument designation

A coalition of New England fishermen organizations filed suit today over former President Barack Obama’s designation of a vast area of ocean as a national monument — a dictate that could sink commercial fishing in New England. The organizations filing the lawsuit are the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, Rhode Island Fisherman’s Alliance, and Garden State Seafood Association. They are represented, free of charge, by Pacific Legal Foundation, a watchdog organization that litigates nationwide for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. The lawsuit challenges President Obama’s September 15, 2016, creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. continue reading the story here 14:28

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for March 6, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here  08:36

Christie administration formally asks Department of Commerce to withdraw summer flounder quota

The Gov. Christie administration has filed a formal request with the U.S. Department of Commerce to stop restrictions on recreational summer flounder fishing from going into effect. The department oversees fisheries management under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The proposed NOAA quota calls for a reduction of summer flounder recreational and commercial limits by 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. In a news release, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said the limits would have a devastating impact on the state. He added that the rules vary “too widely” yearly, causing uncertainty for fisheries managers and anglers. Also, according to Martin, the state has more than 30 years of fish trawl surveys that indicate a measurable increase in the summer flounder stock offshore.  Read the story here 16:06

Dirty Secret Behind Wind Turbines, They Need Lots Of Oil

Offshore wind turbines may generate green energy, but they use a lot more oil than proponents like to admit. Just installing the foundation of a single offshore turbine can consume 18,857 barrels of marine fuel during construction, according to calculations published by Forbes Wednesday. Offshore wind farms often have over 100 wind turbines, meaning that building them requires almost 2 million barrels of fuel just to power the ships involved in construction. The Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative will cost $1 billion dollar to build and generate roughly 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide power to between 40,000 and 64,000 homes — depending on how much the wind blows over the course of the year. continue reading the article here 19:39

Cape May fishermen chase scallops despite risks, trade-offs

Scallops caught by boats based in southern Cape May County may end up on your plate at a local restaurant, or in the frozen foods section of a Wal-Mart or Costco, or even in foreign countries like France.  But before the delicious white mollusks end up frozen in a chain store or fresh at a restaurant, commercial fishermen have to scrape them from the bottom of the ocean floor. It’s a fairly lucrative business that fuels a commercial fishing industry worth tens of millions of dollars each year. But the job takes an emotional toll on the fishermen who must leave their families for up to two weeks at a time to go to sea. Tom McNulty Jr.’s wife, Mandy, gave birth Feb. 16 to a daughter. Zoe McNulty was born at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, the proud father announced recently. But with scallop season quickly approaching, he’s going to have to leave them to go make a living.,, “It’s hard on your family,” he added. “You miss birthdays. You miss graduations.” Photo gallery, continue reading the article here 10:17

Zeldin Reintroduces H.R. 3070, Local Fishing Access Act To Protect Long Island Fishermen

Rep. Lee Zeldin has taken a stand to protect Long Island fishermen. Zeldin recently reintroduced his bill to protect Long Island fishermen as the Local Fishing Access Act. During the last Congress, the bill passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support as H.R. 3070, the EEZ Clarification Act, a release from Zeldin’s office said. The Local Fishing Access Act would reform the federal law that bans striped bass fishing in the Block Island transit zone, which includes federal waters between Montauk and Block Island, Rhode Island, he said. The Local Fishing Access Act is aimed at providing Long Island anglers “relief from confusing regulations. It will also allow Long Island’s fishermen to once again enjoy commercial and recreational striped bass fishing in these local waters just like they do in adjacent state controlled waters,” a release said. continue reading the story here 08:29

2016 Annual Report of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Report to Our Stakeholders Robert E. Beal – On behalf of the Commission and the 15 Atlantic coastal states, I am pleased to present our 2016 Annual Report. The report fulfills our obligation to inform Congress on the Commission’s use of public funds, provides our stakeholders with a summary of activities and progress in carrying out our cooperative stewardship responsibilities, and reflects our Commissioners’ commitment to accountability and transparency in all they do to manage and rebuild fisheries under their care. We remain grateful to the Administration, Members of Congress, our governors and state legislators for their continued support. Many of our accomplishments would not have been possible without their trust and confidence. Read the report here 16:03

N.J. lawmakers ask Trump’s new commerce secretary to stop flounder cuts

It’s not clear how much Wilbur Ross knows about fishing or the complex world of marine regulations. But some members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation hope Ross, who was sworn in as secretary of commerce Tuesday, will step into an intense fight over summer flounder catch guidelines. The delegation wasted no time in appealing to Ross, who now oversees the agencies tasked with regulating the fishing industry. A bipartisan letter sent Tuesday and signed by 12 New Jersey lawmakers, including both U.S. senators and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, asked the former billionaire businessman to considering putting approved flounder reductions on hold. Last month, a federal regulatory commission voted in favor of an option to cut fluke limits for recreational and commercial fishermen by 28 percent to 32 percent for 2017. continue reading the story here 15:06

Wind energy is not the answer

Urban voters may like the idea of using more wind and solar energy, but the push for large-scale renewables is creating land-use conflicts in rural regions from Maryland to California and Ontario to Loch Ness. Since 2015, more than 120 government entities in about two dozen states have moved to reject or restrict the land-devouring, subsidy-fueled sprawl of the wind industry.,, If the wind lobby and their myriad allies at the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups acknowledge turbines’ negative effects on landscapes and rural quality of life, it would subvert their claims that wind energy is truly green.,, In New York, angry fishermen are suing to stop an offshore wind project that could be built in the heart of one of the best squid fisheries on the Eastern Seaboard.  Read the article here 09:44

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for Februay 27, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 17:32

National Marine Fisheries Service Policy Directive – Catch Share Policy

PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to encourage well-designed catch share programs to help maintain or rebuild fisheries, and sustain fishermen, communities and vibrant working waterfronts, including the cultural and resource access traditions that have been part of this country since its founding.  DEFINITION “Catch share” is a general term for several fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached. The term includes specific programs defined in law such as “limited access privilege” (LAP) and “individual fishing quota” (IFQ) programs, and other exclusive allocative measures such as Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) that grant an exclusive privilege to Continue reading this here 15:50

Barta: President Trump Should Stop the Obama Attack on New England Fisherman

In the waning days of his administration, Barack Obama decided to seriously cripple the American fishing industry. By executive order, the former president designated a vast underwater expanse off the coast of New England as the nation’s first aquatic national monument. This decision, driven by evidence-free environmental concerns, effectively banned all commercial fishing in the area. It’s well within President Trump’s powers to modify this decision, and he ought to do so immediately. Left alone, this designation will undermine the regional economy and deprive countless families of their livelihoods. The monument, officially announced in September, covers about 5,000 square miles of ocean located 130 miles from Cape Cod. For over 40 years, commercial fishermen have harvested this area for crab, squid, swordfish, tuna, and other high-demand seafood. It’s particularly rich in lobster, of which some 800,000 pounds are caught every year. This order ends all that activity. Some fishing companies had just 60 days to leave the area. continue reading the story here 14:37

Dream of Offshore U.S. Wind Power May Be Too Ugly for Trump

Offshore wind companies have spent years struggling to convince skeptics that the future of U.S. energy should include giant windmills at sea. Their job just got a lot harder with the election of Donald J. Trump. The Republican president — who champions fossil fuels and called climate change a hoax — has mocked wind farms as ugly, overpriced and deadly to birds. His most virulent criticism targeted an 11-turbine offshore project planned near his Scottish golf resort that he derided as “ monstrous.” Companies trying to build in the U.S., including Dong Energy A/S and Statoil ASA, are hoping to change Trump’s mind. They plan to argue that installing Washington Monument-sized turbines along the Atlantic coast will help the president make good on campaign promises by creating thousands of jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and restoring U.S. energy independence. continue reading the story here 12:47

Carteret County board blasts MFC “draconian measures,” in resolution

Carteret County will join supporters of the commercial shrimp fishing trade, voicing opposition to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission’s decision to pursue tougher restrictions for shrimp trawling, accusing the MFC of putting politics ahead of good management.  Commissioners passed a resolution Monday during their February meeting, casting a unanimous vote of “no confidence” on the MFC decision. “There’s some significant economic implications for Carteret County and for all of the tidewater (through granting this petition),” Commissioner Jonathan Robinson said in an impassioned speech in the county boardroom. He accused members of the MFC of politicizing the issue, rather than relying on scientific findings for rulemaking. “When you go in the face and eyes of all your advisers and take that kind of authoritative action, they’ve clearly demonstrated they don’t have the objectivity to make sound decision on this issue,” Mr. Robinson said.  continue reading the article here 09:20

Clam Boats Test Paperless Reporting – eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software)

NEFSC cooperative research and data management staff are offering to install equipment on commercial fishing vessels for electronic trip reporting in the surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries. So far, 35 vessels from New Bedford, MA to Atlantic City, NJ have been outfitted to voluntarily test the system, and more than 700 e-trip reports have been transmitted. Called eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software), the system allows fishermen to electronically record all the information required on the paper-based fishing trip report. These data are transmitted to NOAA Fisheries after the trip using land-based communication services such as WiFi. Read the rest here 11:28

N.J. Reps LoBiondo and Pallone talk tough, announce legislation to prevent absurd summer flounder quotas

Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone on Thursday, Feb. 23 announced plans to introduce new legislation to prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2017 and 2018 summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. In a press release, Pallone and LoBiondo said the rules would do damage to the economies of coastal communities and the state. Under the NOAA quotas, the allowed summer flounder catch for recreational and commercial fishing were both reduced by approximately 30 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2018. The Pallone-LoBiondo legislation would maintain the 2016 quota levels and require that NOAA conduct a new assessment before issuing new quotas. Continue reading the story here 07:31

NOAA/NMFS Declines to List Thorny Skate as Threatened or Endangered

In response to a petition from Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Welfare Institute to list thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) under the Endangered Species Act, we have now determined that listing is not warranted at this time. The May 2015 petition requested that we list a “Northwest Atlantic Distinct Population Segment” or a “United States Distinct Population Segment” of thorny skate as threatened or endangered. Thorny skate are at low abundance in U.S. waters compared to historical levels, primarily due to overfishing. However, declines have been halted throughout most of the species’ full range, and the species remains abundant throughout the North Atlantic, with hundreds of millions of individuals in the Northwest Atlantic alone. Read the rest here 12:21

Maryland’s veteran crab manager fired after watermen complain to Hogan

Maryland’s veteran manager of the state’s blue crab fishery was fired this week after a group of watermen complained to Gov. Larry Hogan about a catch regulation that they contend hurts their livelihood — but that scientists say is needed to ensure a sustainable harvest. Brenda Davis, crab program manager for the Department of Natural Resources and a 28-year state employee, said she was informed Tuesday that her services were no longer needed. In an interview Wednesday, Davis said Fisheries Director Dave Blazer gave no reason for her summary dismissal. But it came after Hogan met last week with about a dozen Dorchester County watermen who had been pressing Davis and the DNR for a change in a long-time regulation setting the minimum catchable size for crabs. Continue reading the story here 11:46

Offshore drilling opponents re-gear for new round of battles

A little more than a month after seismic blast testing for oil and natural gas was stopped offshore of South Carolina, exploration companies are gearing up for a new try. A dozen anti-drilling advocates met Tuesday in Charleston to discuss expanding the opposition. They may look inland for more support in the vein of the massive coastal protest that in 2016 helped derail plans for testing and drilling. Frank Knapp, founder of the anti-drilling Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, said he has heard the exploration industry is planning to approach the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management about reversing a testing permit denial adopted during the last days of the Obama administration. Knapp’s group represents more than 35,000 businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families from Maine to Florida. Continue reading the story here 17:58

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for Februay 20, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 15:49

MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION: by Jerry Schill – Disappointing is not quite the word to use to describe my reaction to the MFC vote, but neither is shocking. For anyone that is familiar with this particular commission, the vote to accept the petition isn’t shocking. click Weekly Update to read the rest

MAFMC & ASMFC Set Black Sea Bass Specs for 2017-18 – Benchmark Assessment Finds Resource Not Overfished & Overfishing Not Occurring

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) have approved revised specifications for the 2017 black sea bass fishing year as well as specifications for the 2018 fishing year for the Northern black sea bass stock (Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the US-Canadian border). The revised specifications are based on the results of the 2016 benchmark stock assessment, which found the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The approved limits are consistent with the recommendations of the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore). The Council will forward its recommendations for federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) to NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval. Read the rest here 11:23

Harvey Haddock on fisherman’s rights.

In light of the recent court decision in regard to the proposed New York windmill farm allowing the project to proceed despite its potential effects on long established fishing industries, this scene, excerpted from the in-progress novel, “Delusions of a Madman”, showcases an irreverent slice of life from the Fishermans Dock Co-op, which illuminates the question; What are a fisherman’s rights? On a cold windy morning at the Fishermans Dock Co-op, all the boats are in, and a couple of small groups of fishermen are scattered at the docks unloading spots, generally discussing the last few days of fishing, and invariably complaining about one regulation or another. Henry’s in a hurry to the office today, it seems the morning coffee has done its magic, and he needs to make a deposit for Alice and Lil, the office secretary’s. He hurries through the dock careful not to slip on the ice, and enters the warm office, heads right, passing  Alice sitting at her desk, and Lil, in the next room. “Again?” says Alice. Continue reading the story here 22:02

Chesapeake Bay advocates alarmed by plan that could open oyster sanctuaries to watermen

Some of the Chesapeake Bay’s most densely populated oyster sanctuaries could be opened to periodic harvesting under a plan being floated by state officials, setting up more conflict between alarmed environmentalists and watermen seeking to make a living. Neither side is pleased with the first draft of a new map of sanctuary boundaries in Maryland’s share of the bay. While watermen would gain some territory they ceded when a state oyster restoration strategy launched in 2010, dredging would be banned in other areas that are now open to harvesting. The net effect would be a loss of 11 percent of oyster sanctuary, instead opening up that acreage to watermen for undetermined stretches of time once every few years. Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has supported what it calls “rotational harvesting” as a way to balance oyster recovery and bay restoration with the demands of the seafood industry. Continue reading the article here 15:17

New York Wind farm’s long-term cost will be high for power projects

When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a speech last month touted an offshore wind farm 30 miles from the coast of Long Island, he made special note of its “inexpensive energy,” saying it would “drive the economy.” While the project by developer Deepwater Wind promises many many benefits, including meeting LIPA’s green-energy goals and the state’s Clean Energy Standard, it’s hard to make the case that the power it produces will be inexpensive.  Power from the current crop of natural-gas fueled plants on Long Island costs around 7.6 cents per kilowatt hour. Commercial fishing groups have generally opposed offshore wind energy, but a Siena College poll last month found 76 percent of Long Islanders supported the concept when the projects were 10 miles or more miles from shore. Read the story here 12:03

Opponents of proposed shrimp trawl limits not backing down from fight

There was one common point as local residents on opposing sides of a shrimp trawling issue reacted to news that additional restrictions for North Carolina shrimpers will likely be on the way. The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted 5-3, with one member abstaining, on Thursday to approve a petition for rule-making from the N.C. Wildlife Federation, setting in motion a lengthy process of reviewing the rules proposed in the petition before a final decision is made. For commercial fishermen and those who work in the seafood industry, the long road ahead is one they are prepared to follow. “They are going to have a fight on their handssaid Tim Millis of B.F. Millis Seafood in Sneads Ferry. “People are not going to stand back. (The petition) is going too far.”  Nancy Edens of Sneads Ferry, a North Carolina representative with the Southern Shrimp Alliance, attended the MFC meeting Thursday and was disappointed by the vote of the commission. Continued reading here 07:41

Local restaurant owners upset about North Carolina Wildlife Federation shrimping petition

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation brought forward a petition to protect juvenile fish, but many are arguing it puts their livelihood at risk. The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission voted to approve a petition that would regulate where, how and when shrimpers could work. The final verdict has made a lot of people in the business upset. Fulcher Seafood in Oriental employees more than 200 people. Christina Fulcher-Cahoon said the new restrictions would jeopardize their large employee base and the seafood industry completely. While the petition was approved, this is merely the first approval. It must go through several steps before it is actually enforced. There is a chance the petition will not make it through all of these steps and will never go into affect. Video, read the rest here 14:11

N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Board stacked with special interests, votes to “Crack Down” on Shrimp Trawling

Carrying out a very transparent agenda to support special interest groups, the Marine Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to accept a petition from the NC Wildlife Federation (NCWF)  that warrants rules to the commercial trawl fishery – including a 3-day work week, day-time only fishing and drastic gear restrictions – that will shut down the state’s shrimping industry. The action took place at the MFC business meeting in Wilmington, Feb 13-15. Turning out in good numbers to side with the NCWF petition was the NC Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, a group known nationwide for its mission to shut down commercial fishermen in the name of protecting public trust waters. They repeatedly discredited the state’s commercial fishing industry during the meeting, accusing fishermen of non-compliance and charging they don’t care about the resource. They even had a conference room next to the MFC meeting, where they held a membership drive and passed out propaganda. Continue reading the article here 08:54

Legal Fight in New York Offshore Wind Farm Case Continues on Merits; Request for Preliminary Injunction Denied

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided late Wednesday not to grant a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit brought by a host of fishing communities, associations and businesses led by scallop industry trade group the Fisheries Survival Fund against the impending leasing of the New York Wind Energy Area to Statoil Wind of Norway. The suit alleges the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing process did not adequately consider the impact of wind power development in the waters off Long Island, New York on the region’s fishermen. The fishing industry asked that the court temporarily halt BOEM from proceeding with the final ratification of a lease on the area, which was preliminarily awarded to Statoil, Norway’s state oil company, for $42.5 million. “Getting a preliminary injunction granted is difficult, given the high standards that the court applies,” said Mayor Kirk Larson of Barnegat Light, N.J., one of the plaintiffs in the case. “But our case will continue, and we are confident that we will succeed on the merits.” Continue reading the article here 17:55

NC shrimpers say new rules for trawlers will destroy industry

The state Marine Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to begin drafting rules that would limit trawling for shrimp in North Carolina’s inland coastal waters, a move that many on the coast say could destroy the shrimping industry. The decision came after months of wrangling between commercial and recreational fishermen, with the latter group arguing that trawlers are scooping up millions of young fish before they’re old enough to spawn, effectively killing off fish stocks in the region. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation petitioned the state – the only one on the East Coast that allows shrimp trawling in its sounds and estuaries – to reduce the size of trawler nets, limit how long nets could be pulled in the water, permit shrimping only three days per week and eliminate night-time shrimping. “What just happened today is appalling,” said Brent Fulcher, who owns Beaufort Inlet Seafood in Beaufort. “The state process is broken.” Continue reading the article here 16:56

Op-ed: E-mails continue a troubling practice on fisheries panel

With a critical vote pending on a petition to limit shrimp trawling in state waters, a member of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission made no secret of his position in an e-mail to a concerned chef from Charlotte. The e-mail was among several by Commissioner Chuck Laughridge to people who had submitted written comments on the petition, which supporters say is aimed at protecting fish species that are discarded as by-catch after they are hauled in by shrimp nets. Laughridge wrote the e-mails despite warnings from the commission’s lawyer about conducting business outside of public meetings and expressing opinions on pending issues before the fisheries panel has fully debated and voted on them. We at Outer Banks Catch are troubled by these continuing private communications. The commission is already under the cloud of a 2016 audit that cited several potential violations of open meetings laws in e-mail communications among its members. With the potentially devastating impact of limits to shrimp trawling on commercial watermen and consumers up and down the East Coast, the commission more than ever must be above-board. Continue reading the Op-ed here 22:38

Study: Seismic Testing Disrupts Fish Behavior

Almost anyone who’s thrown a hook in the water to catch a fish in a quiet atmosphere probably knows intuitively that loud noises spook them: you don’t scream at fish to bite, after all, you wait patiently. But intuition isn’t science, and seismic airguns don’t make just any loud noise, so when University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences doctoral student Avery Paxton and some colleagues got the opportunity to do some real science on an issue that’s germane to the hot topic of oil and gas exploration by seismic surveys, they jumped at the chance. What they found, back in September 2014 when they did a study during a U.S. Geological Survey seismic mapping effort in the Atlantic Ocean off Beaufort Inlet, not only confirmed intuition, but surprised them in its degree: 78 percent of the fish on a reef near the seismic survey “went missing,” compared to counts at the same time the three previous days during the evening hours, the peak time for fish, such as snapper, grouper and angelfish, to gather there. Continue reading the article here 10:27

NJ Fluke Fishing Industry in Flux

After a decision made last week aimed at protecting the Atlantic Ocean’s primary cash fish, New Jersey anglers now believe their industry is in dire straits. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission  (ASMFC), a federally regulated authority that oversees fishing management for the 15 states along the Atlantic Coast, has decided to increase regulations on summer flounder for 2017. “With what they’re proposing, it’s going to be the final nail in our coffin,” said Ron Santi, a head boat captain based out of Atlantic Highlands. “When looking at recreational and commercial fisheries on a whole, it seems as though for 20 to 30 years, we’ve been fishing at a higher level than the resources can sustain,” said Kirby Rootes-Murdy, a senior fishery management plan coordinator with ASMFC. Between recreational and commercial fishing, fluking generates nearly $2.5 billion for the state’s economy, according to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Continue reading the story here 08:00

Environmentalists Spend Big Money to Put Commercial Fishing People Out of Work

In an industry where commerce depends solely on the catch, commercial fishing is one of the most volatile professions in the country. From market prices to weather patterns, there are many factors that could result in poor landings and scant pay check. On top of these factors, an environmental group has proposed drastic rule changes for the trawl industry that could shut down a the NC shrimping business completely. And they’re spending big money to do it. While they claimed the rules would have an impact on the captains and crews, the environmentalists left out the many jobs generated by the trawl industry. From the shrimp headers and dock hands, to the welders and marine mechanics, to the transport drivers and seafood distributors, as well as the administrative employees, North Carolina stands to lose big bucks if fresh shrimp is taken from our tables. Even bigger, the tourism industry – which is has been a huge economic supporter in distressed coastal communities – would certainly take a financial hit.A fishermen can never clock in and be assured of a good paycheck, but environmentalists sure can. According to John Hopkins University there is huge money in being an environmentalist. In 2016, a it was reported a “chief sustainability environmental executive” will earn an average of $166,000 annually, while a general operations managers will start at $95,150. Read the complete article here 14:41

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for Februay 13, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 22:51

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meeting in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina: February 14-16, 2017

The public is invited to attend the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s February 2017 meeting to be held February 14-16, 2017 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Kitty Hawk, 5353 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. Webinar: For online access to the meeting, Click here  Meeting Materials: Briefing documents will be posted as they become available. Click here 11:10

Fishing Industry Fights N.Y. Offshore Wind Area In Court

Lawyers representing a host of fishing communities, associations and businesses – led by scallop industry trade group the Fisheries Survival Fund – argued in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., yesterday against an offshore wind lease sale off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. A ruling is expected in the coming days, according to a press release from the Fisheries Survival Fund. The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction against the wind farm lease that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) preliminarily awarded to Statoil for $42.5 million at an auction in December. They argued that the site of the project is in the middle of important fishing grounds, particularly for the scallop and squid fisheries. They also claimed that allowing the “unlawful” lease sale to go through would cause “irreparable harm to commercial fishermen.” Read the story here 07:31

North Pacific council director a possibility for Assistant Administrator position at NMFS replacing Eileen Sobeck

Chris Oliver, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years, didn’t ask for a consideration as the new assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service; rather, the most powerful fishing industry voices in the nation’s most profitable region asked. He doesn’t know if the new administration will offer it or if he’d want it if it did. Still, looking at his history, knowledge and reputation, he seems in many ways a natural fit. Oliver said when it became known that the current administrator, Eileen Sobeck, won’t be staying with the new administration, parts of the fishing universe aligned. In the North Pacific and elsewhere, catch share systems are a contentious issue; Oliver said in an interview he’s already had fisheries stakeholders from other regions probing for what his intent would be with their respective fisheries. Oliver’s answer sums up both his attitude and in part that of the new administration. “It’s not my call,” he said. “What makes sense in the North Pacific…may not make sense in New England, or in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 10:47

Decision on preliminary injunction on offshore sale in ‘coming days’

A US court is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days on a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the development of the up to 1GW New York offshore wind farm lease area. The Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), which represents the majority of the limited access Atlantic scallop fleet, is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that alleges the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing process did not adequately consider the impact of wind power development on the region’s fishermen. The plaintiffs, which also include the Garden State Seafood Association and the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, argue that allowing the lease sale to go through would cause irreparable harm to commercial fishermen. Norwegian oil major Statoil won the December auction for the right to develop the 32,000-hectare site off the coast of Long Island with a bid of $42.5m. BOEM has delayed execution of the lease until the court has ruled on the preliminary injunction. Link 09:33

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for Februay 6, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 20:21