Category Archives: Mid Atlantic

Our view: Adjust beach replenishment to minimize maritime dead zones

Beach replenishment is an expensive and temporary method of maintaining barrier-island beaches. In the absence of alternatives — and many have been tried in vain — state and local governments and most of society are committed to pumping sand from the ocean floor for the foreseeable future. As the post-Hurricane Sandy rebuilding of all the beaches along New Jersey’s 127-mile Atlantic coast nears completion, an additional potential cost is becoming clear: Replenishment might be creating dead zones on land and at sea. That’s not sufficient reason to stop sand dredging (without a new and better option), but it’s worrisome enough that governments should adjust their practices and possibly even their funding mechanisms. Governments are planning to continue dredging ocean sand onto beaches for at least another half-century, so there is a danger it will create enough dead-zone acreage to adversely affect the richly complex coastal web of life. Recreational and commercial fishers say it already is. Read the op-ed here 08:34

Commission Cuts Summer Flounder leaving New Jersey leaders fuming

The Commission voted Thursday to reduce this year’s summer flounder catch, leaving New Jersey leaders fuming and vowing to take action. It’s a move many in the state believe could devastate the recreational fishing industry at the Jersey Shore by tightening size and bag limits on the fish.,,At its meeting in Virginia, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission chose Option 5, which implements reductions between 28 percent and 32 percent the length of the coast. All other options included in the plan would have mandated a 41 percent cut. Federal experts have argued the reductions are necessary to preserve the stock. At a public hearing last month in Galloway Township, Kirby Rootes-Murdy, a senior fishery management plan coordinator at ASMFC, said the flounder stock is in “an overfishing situation.” Read the story here 21:00

Pallone Opposes Cuts to Summer Flounder Quotas at Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting

Today, at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a spokesperson for Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) provided a statement arguing that proposed reductions for Summer Flounder quotas would harm many coastal communities including those along the Jersey Shore that rely on the recreational and commercial fishing industries. The Commission, despite opposition by New Jersey representatives, elected to finalize regulations that will result in a 34% cut in summer flounder quotas for the state. The bag limit will decrease to 3 fish, and the minimum size will increase one inch to 19 inches on the New Jersey coast and 18 inches in Delaware Bay. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Read the press release here 18:57

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for January 30, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 14:30

Van Drew Measure Asks President to Reject Summer Flounder Catch Reduction

A measure sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew and Bob Smith urging President Donald Trump to reject the proposed reduction in the summer flounder catch limit – an action that would have a drastic impact on fishing in New Jersey and the economy – and urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct a new summer flounder assessment was approved today by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. “We are very concerned about the decision to move forward with a catch reduction. That fact that it was based on faulty data only adds insult to injury,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic.) “We are urging the President to reject this dramatic change that will have a real negative effect on both the fishing industry and our economy and asking for a new assessment before any new catch quota is implemented.” Read the story here 09:15

Baltimore Canyon “Urban” Marine Sanctuary Proposal Withdrawn

A prized fishing area off Maryland’s coast has been pulled from consideration as the nation’s first “urban” marine sanctuary. The National Aquarium in Baltimore petitioned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last fall to designate the Baltimore Canyon as a sanctuary. Advocates said the sanctuary status would protect the sea floor and surrounding waters from oil and gas exploration and military activities, as well as create new opportunities for marine researchers and educators. The Aquarium’s CEO, John Racanelli, has withdrawn the nomination, writing in a letter to NOAA that “we have determined that the timing is not right for this nomination.” That decision came after strong opposition to the proposal from Ocean City fishermen and several Lower Shore lawmakers. They raised concerns that the designation might scuttle the area’s $100 million offshore fishing industry and prompt the resort’s 12 annual fishing tournaments to pull up anchor. Read the story here 18:54

Sandy Semans Ross – My view: N.C. Wildlife Federation petition is short on science and facts

The Outer Banks Catch is a nonprofit focused on providing fact-based education to consumers about the commercial fishing industry and communities, and the habitat and water quality needed to maintain a robust fishery. With that mission comes a responsibility to correct erroneous statements whether made in the press or, such as in this case, in petitions for rule-making before the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission. The petition filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) is based on the work of Jack Travelstead, an employee of the Coastal Conservation Association, and former Division of Marine Fisheries director, Louis Daniel, now contracted with NCWF.  The document, amendment and submitted public comments contain few statements that Outer Banks Catch could provide to the public and stand behind their legitimacy. It requests designating all inland waters and three miles out into the ocean as a huge special secondary nursery area, thus prohibiting almost all shrimp trawling. Read the op-ed here 09:19

Montauk Fishermen Worry About Impacts From Proposed Wind Farm

A 12-to-15-turbine wind farm still will have to navigate a long and arduous regulatory approval process before it can be constructed in the waters between Montauk and Nantucket. Some Montauk fishermen say they are worried about the impacts of the turbines to be built about 30 miles offshore of their home port. “The location is definitely a concern, because of the fishery that takes place there,” said Chris Scola, a Montauk sea scallop harvester. “The draggers do a lot of fluking there. They do a lot of yellowtail flounder there. It’s a very important place for sportfishermen, too— it’s really the only place that still has cod consistently.” Montauk fishermen say they were not included in the conversations held five years ago, when Deepwater Wind and federal regulators were discussing the regions that would be leased to the company for wind farm construction. “They created a fishery advisory group … and Rhode Island and Massachusetts fishermen said, ‘You can’t go here, because we all fish here—that’s important to us,’ and they removed all these certain [areas] from the map,” said Bonnie Brady, director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association. “They never talked to New York. No one from Long Island was invited, as far as I’m aware.” Read the full story here 15:53

Catch Share Program Review for the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Individual Transferrable Quota Fisheries

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) is accepting proposals to conduct a Catch Share Program Review of the present and past social and economic conditions in the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog (SCOQ) fisheries which are managed using individual transferrable quotas (ITQs). Section 303A(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) includes requirements for the regular monitoring and review of the operations of catch share programs by the Council and the Secretary of Commerce. In 1977, the Council developed a fishery management plan for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries in federal waters. These fisheries were initially managed using a combination of limited entry restrictions, fishing quotas, and time limits to constrain landings and distribute fishing effort throughout the fishing year. In 1990, the Council developed an ITQ program that was implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. The fisheries have been operating under this program since then. Read the Request for Proposals (RFP) – Closing Date: March 31, 2017  12:21

The early shift: New Jersey People working while you’re still asleep

The early bird may catch the worm. But it certainly isn’t catching enough zzz’s. That’s the moral of the story for those who work during the wee hours. We caught up with a few New Jersey residents who regularly rise before the sun – a commercial fisherman, a waitress and an ER nurse – to chat about the challenges that come with working while the rest of us are in bed and find out why they stick with it. To make a profit as a commercial gillnet fisherman, you’ve got to sacrifice sleep. For 35 years, Kevin Wark’s schedule has been roughly the same: two nights at sea, one on land. But no matter how many times he toils through his 30-hour shifts, with little more than a 15-minute nap, Wark’s body has never grown accustomed to the effects of sleep deprivation. Read the story here 09:25

Controversial flounder plan could get final approval Thursday

A proposal to drastically reduce this year’s summer flounder catch could get final approval at a federal regulatory meeting Thursday morning in Virginia. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee is scheduled consider strategies that would reduce the summer flounder harvest by up to 41 percent coast-wide and implement tighter restrictions on bag and size limits for recreational fishermen. It’s a proposal that has been met with widespread criticism in New Jersey—from recreational fishermen, both U.S. Senators, multiple other politicians and even the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection. In August, the ASMFC and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council set the summer flounder harvest limit at an all-time low in response to the most recent stock assessment, and, last month, the regulatory bodies approved a set of options to meet that goal. Read the rest of the story here 21:27

ASMFC Winter Meeting – January 30 – February 2, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia

Final Agenda, Click here For ease of access, all Board/Section meeting documents, with the exception of the Shad & River Herring Board materials and the submitted public comment portion of the Atlantic Menhaden Board materials, have been combined into two documents – Main Meeting Materials 1 and Main Meeting Materials 2. Main Meeting Materials 1 includes all boards/sections meeting on January 31 and Main Meeting Materials 2 are materials for the remainder of the week. Additionally, supplemental materials have been combined into document – Supplemental Materials. Links to individual board/committee materials can be found below. Board/Section meeting proceedings will be broadcast daily via webinar beginning at 8:00 a.m. on January 31st and continuing daily until the conclusion of the meeting (expected to be 3:00 p.m.) on Thursday February 2nd. The webinar will allow registrants to listen to board/section deliberations and view presentations and motions as they occur. Click here for access. 19:57

Trawler Damaged – Two suffer minor injuries in large fire in downtown Hampton

Hampton firefighters battled blazes at a seafood packaging warehouse and commercial fishing boat in the 100 block of King Street in downtown Sunday morning. Two people suffered minor injuries as a result of the blaze, and the warehouse was heavily damaged, according to a fire official. The flames coming from the warehouse reached nearby boats, Chittum said, and one boat was damaged by fire. However it was moved from the warehouse, protecting it from the further burns. After the flames on the boat were under control, firefighters used the boat as a platform to fight the warehouse blaze, Chittum said. The boat had visible charring to its right side, which was facing the warehouse. (Trusted sources confirm the vessel is the F/V Darana R out of Wanchese N.C.) Photo gallery, read the rest here 19:13

BREAKING: 2nd alarm warehouse and boat fire in Hampton Va.

Hampton Fire crews are battling a heavy 2nd alarm warehouse fire at Amory’s Seafood in the 100 block of South King Street Sunday morning. Dispatch received the call around 8:18 a.m. Hampton Fire tweeted a commercial fishing boat has also caught fire. This is a breaking story. More details when available! Click here for photo’s 11:38:03

Northeast Fisheries Science Center director steers a new course

It was last Halloween when Jon Hare took over as Science and Research Director for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole. He was aware he was jumping into a cauldron but it hasn’t spooked him yet. “I knew it was going to be a challenge and that’s why I was interested in it,” the career NOAA scientist said. Hare does understatement well. The director’s job description includes managing “the living marine resources of the Northeast Continental Shelf Ecosystem from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras,” according to the NOAA website. If that in itself were not sufficient, these resources include commercial fisheries, and in New England that is synonymous with controversy. Federal fishery management in general, and the efficacy of NOAA’s survey work on fish stocks in particular, have been heavily criticized by fishermen in the Northeast, almost without cessation for the past 15 years and the NEFSC has been at the sharp end of much of this disaffection. Read the story here 20:22

N.J. fishermen, officials demand feds back off of proposed flounder limits

In a unified show of support, New Jersey officials and leaders of the state’s fishing industry said Friday they are demanding the federal government abandon plans to cut the amount of fluke to be harvested this year. Insisting the proposed new limits will devastate an industry important to New Jersey’s economy, the government and industry representatives said they’re prepared to mount a legal fight, if necessary, to fight “ridiculous” limits that were based on “flawed” data. Jim Lovgren, a fishing boat captain and director of the Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative, said fishermen already experienced a 30-percent reduction in limits last year and face yet another 17- or 18-percent cut next year. The Point Pleasant Beach cooperative he heads pulls in about 2 million pounds of flounder annually. “Taking 30 percent of that last year hurt. It hurt me economically. It hurt everybody over there. It hurt everybody here,” he said to the crowd. Photo gallery of 21 images, Read the story here 16:54

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin Says Proposed Fluke Quota Cut Would Cripple Fishing, Kill Jobs

Proposals that would cut New Jersey’s share of the fluke fishing quota in by 50 percent would cripple the fishing industry, kill potentially thousands of jobs and damage the state’s tourism industry, state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said Friday. Martin joined federal and state lawmakers, leaders of the state’s recreational and commercial fishing industries, anglers, and people whose livelihoods rely on fishing at a rally in Point Pleasant Beach to oppose the proposed drastic cuts to the recreational harvest of summer flounder, also known as fluke. The rally follows votes last month by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that would likely result in an increase in the size of individual summer flounder anglers can keep, as well as a decrease in number of fish that may be kept each day, and a reduction in season length. Read the rest of the story here 15:36

Fluke Cut Rally scheduled for Friday, 10 am at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach

A rally against the proposed cuts to the summer flounder harvest is planned for this Friday morning in the parking lot of Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach. Along with members of the fishing community, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection Bob Martin and U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) will lead the rally and speak in opposition to the harvest reduction. Both Martin and Pallone have been critical of the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management for their proposed drastic cuts to the summer flounder harvest. Pallone has been outspoken against the science used to count fish landings and stock biomass that has led those management bodies to conclude that anglers overfished their quota last year and the biomass of summer flounder is shrinking. Read the rest here 12:32

In Chesapeake Bay’s changing ecosystem, blue crab is king (and moving north)

In the face of an evolving ecosystem, experts agree many of the differences in Chesapeake Bay marine life can – at least in part – be attributed to a worldwide warming trend. Over the last three decades, water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius, or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, said Rom Lipcius, professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The change means populations of many native sea creatures in the Chesapeake have moved or expanded north in search of cooler water temperatures, and other non-native creatures have moved in. As the warming trend continues, experts say some marine species will thrive as others struggle to survive in the face of temperature, environment and predator and prey changes. “It’s not all bad news, and it’s not all good news,” said Jon Hare, science and research director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “There are both winners and losers in this situation.” There have been a number of species, including blue crab, scup and black sea bass, that have shifted or extended northward along the Atlantic coast, said Hare. Read the story here 08:35

Two more plead guilty to poaching of striped bass 7 years ago in the EEZ

Two more commercial fishermen have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the illegal catch and sale of striped bass from federal waters nearly seven years ago. The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Ellis Leon Gibbs Jr., 53 of Englehard and Dawyne J. Jopkins, 43 of Belhaven entered the guilty plea Monday on a charge of , which prohibits transporting, selling or buying fish and wildlife harvested illegally. Hopkins also pleaded guilty to obstructing a boarding by the U.S. Coast Guard.  A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 24, when Gibbs will face up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, while Hopkins could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Nine local commercial fisherman, including Gibbs and Hopkins, were among a group of 13 from North Carolina and Georgia indicted in March 2015 in a federal investigation into the illegal catch and sale of striped bass in 2009 and 2010. Read the story here 11:36

A legacy of hard work and devotion – Steve Parrish Sr., Supply, N.C.

Steve Parrish Sr. always had an answer. His son, Steven Parrish, remembers his dad being able to figure out anything, answer any question he had. Parrish, who owned and operated S&S Trawl Shop in Supply for more than 30 years, died Monday at 60. Parrish leaves behind a legacy of hard work, devotion to the environment and his own take on “turtle excluder devices” (TEDs), which his son said he helped develop along with a team of scientists and other groups. Parrish was one of only two people in the state who built TEDs. Along with being instrumental in developing TEDs, Parrish grew his Supply business from a small operation in a garage to one that supplied fishing gear along the East Coast and as far away as Mexico and Honduras. Read the story here 18:50  Read Complete Obituary

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for January 23, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 16:15

North Carolina: Small Victory for Trawling Industry – But the fight isn’t over

Around 20 trawl boats made their way up the Neuse River to anchor in front of the New Bern Convention Center on Tuesday in a show of protest to proposed rules that would severely impact and ultimately kill their industry. Inside, the spacious conference room was filled to capacity with mostly advocates and supporters of commercial fishing. Donning badges saying “Deny the petition” with a trawl boat on the back drop, the show of solidarity was palpable.,, Throughout the meeting, advisory members unraveled what could be determined as a poorly thought-out petition, pointing out large factors that were omitted – namely economics and science. One of the biggest flaws the panel pointed out repeatedly is the fact that no other environmental factors were considered in the NCWF’s accusation that trawlers were destroying the finfish population. From cormorants to construction and economics to foreign imports,  there were many elements the NCWF admittedly left out. It was very clear that the group had one purpose with their proposed petition for rule-making- to shut down trawling in NC waters. Read the story here 11:36

Has the Trump administration already made fluke fishing great again?

On Friday, January 20, just hours after the official transition of presidential power, the White House ordered an immediate freeze of pending regulations until they can be reviewed by the new Trump administration. In an inauguration day memo to federal departments and agencies, new White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the freeze was designed to ensure that President Donald Trump’s appointees or designees “have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations.” Sent to the current heads of all executive departments and federal agencies, the memo from Priebus applies to any regulations not yet sent for final publication in the Federal Register and asks federal agencies to not send any regulation to the Federal Register until reviewed by the Trump administration. President Trump has tabbed New York businessman Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce, the cabinet head with ultimate authority over NOAA Fisheries. Read the article here 20:36

Andrew Cuomo’s wind farm plan needs 280 square miles off LI

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambition to develop enough offshore wind energy by 2030 to power 750,000 homes will require 280 square miles of ocean starting 12 to 15 miles from the Long Island shore, state officials said. In a presentation to Long Island fishing groups in Setauket last week, state officials unveiled a map outlining a massive wind-study area south of Long Island that could result in three separate wind farms in the water over the next decade. One fisherman at the meeting noted the location of that proposed array largely was determined before the Setauket meeting last Tuesday. “Why are we having outreach after the site lease is already sold?” said Mike Fogal, a Jones Inlet commercial fisherman. Read the story here 13:39

North Carolina Fisheries Association – Update on yesterday’s North Carolina shrimp petition meeting!

ALL FIVE ADVISORY PANELS VOTE TO DENY THE SHRIMP PETITION! Thanks to all fishermen, their families, consumers and other supporters of North Carolina’s commercial fishing communities for filling the Convention Center yesterday in New Bern! Special kudos to the owners, captains and crews of the many fishing boats that were docked nearby at Union Point! It was a sight! At 11:00, we had a special gathering upstairs at the Convention Center for a meeting and Prayer Service, to ask the Lord’s guidance for calm and protection for our state’s fishermen.
 Five advisory panels to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission met yesterday at the Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern to hear comments on a Petition for Rulemaking by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation that would severely restrict shrimp trawling in our state. Read the update here 09:55

Feds to auction 122,000 acres in North Carolina for wind energy

“Today’s announcement demonstrates how our collaborative efforts with Federal, state and local partners over the past eight years have built a foundation to harness the enormous potential of offshore wind energy,” said Secretary Jewell. “The lease sale underscores the growing market demand for renewable energy and strong industry interest in meeting that demand.” The Kitty Hawk lease sale is the latest effort in the Obama Administration’s renewable energy program at the U.S. Department of the Interior, which recently marked the operational launch of the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, and the lease sale for over 79,000 acres offshore New York. To date, BOEM has held six competitive lease sales, which have generated over $58 million in high bids for more than one million acres in federal waters. Read the rest here 09:05

Advisory committees recommend denying shrimp trawling limitations

Five advisory committees to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission met Tuesday to contemplate a petition on restrictions to shrimp trawling. The Division of Marine Fisheries announced Tuesday evening that all advisory committees voted to recommend the Marine Fisheries Commission deny the petition for limitations. Marine Fisheries will make the final decision in February at a separate meeting in Wilmington. Video Read the rest here 20:28

BIG Tuna story! Local man hauls in huge catch

It seems like everyone has a big fish story – and every year that fish – and the tall tale that goes along with it, gets bigger and bigger. But for Reidsville native Tommy Adkins, he’s got the story and the photos to prove that his big fish story, is the real deal. Adkins, a self-described small-time commercial fisherman, took his boat “Fish ‘N Frenzy” out off the coast of Morehead City last Wednesday morning and came home with a whopping 800 pound-plus Atlantic blue fin tuna. It was not only the biggest tuna Adkins ever landed, but also the biggest blue fin tuna caught off the Morehead City port so far this season. After the fish was processed and cleaned, it dressed at 629 pounds and sold for $19 per pound. That’s a $11,951 pay day, but Adkins says there is a huge expense that goes along with the job that most people don’t realize. Click here to read the rest of the story 17:00

Questions arise over commercial license fees collected for flounder fishery observers

Watermen want to know what happened to commercial license fees that were collected to fund observers required by law for flounder fishing when sea turtles are spotted in area waters. Few answers were provided at a meeting of the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Funding Committee on Jan. 4. Records show that $1.3 million was allocated for the observers in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but only $608,065 was spent. Dewey Hemilright, who attended the meeting, asked how so much could have been spent on the Section 10 permit program when the flounder fishery was closed much of the season. “Expenses need more accountability,” said Hemilright, a long-line fisherman. “This doesn’t affect me, but I’m willing to pay the extra money if it allows others to fish. But if there’s more being paid in than is needed, then it should be returned to the fishermen.” An additional license fee was imposed after a state appropriation to cover the cost of complying with the federal permit’s conditions was eliminated. One condition requires the observers, who monitor interactions with endangered sea turtles and sturgeon. Read the rest here 15:53

Fishermen, consumers rallying to fight petition calling for shrimp trawl restrictions

Jimmy Phillips estimates 100,000 pounds or more of shrimp comes through the family seafood market in a season; all of it fresh from North Carolina waters. “Yeah, it worries me,” Phillips said when asked about a petition for rulemaking before the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission that would put severe restrictions on shrimping in North Carolina. “It would affect shrimping tremendously, net fishing, and everybody,” Phillips said. Phillips is just one of many fishermen, seafood industry representatives, and concerned consumers who plan to attend a Tuesday public meeting in New Bern to express their opposition to the petition. The meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Convention Center. Jerry Schill, president of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, a nonprofit trade association representing the interests of commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors, said the petition for rulemaking is “not only a referendum on shrimping but a referendum on the future of commercial fishing.” Read the story here 09:34

Statoil: Fishermen lobby for new spot for proposed Long Island wind farm

In Joe Gilbert’s view, fishermen like him shouldn’t have to compete with wind farms for a piece of the ocean. “We’re not anti-wind farm,” Gilbert said this past week. “But we don’t want to trade one renewable resource — fish — for another one — wind. They can both exist.” Gilbert is the owner of Empire Fisheries, which has four scallop and squid fishing boats based at the Town Dock. He’s also a member of the board of the Fisheries Survival Fund, one of 12 fishermen groups from New England to New Jersey opposing the federal government’s recent approval of a provisional lease to a Norwegian company that proposes to develop a wind farm on 79,350 acres of ocean bottom about 13 miles south of Jones Beach in Hempstead, Long Island. “What we’re asking is that it be relocated,” said Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison with Sea Freeze, a squid wholesaler based in North Kingstown, R.I., that has joined the Fisheries Survival Fund in challenging the wind farm plan. The site of the proposed wind farm, fishermen say, is one of the most productive squid and scallop fishing areas in the North Atlantic. But the long trawling nets used by these fisheries could not maneuver within a “pinball machine of structures” that would constitute the wind farm, Lapp said. “It would be too dangerous.” Read the story here 09:01

New Jersey Fishermen, beach builders fight for ancient underwater sand hills

Just a few miles off New Jersey’s coast  are a series of underwater hills on the ocean floor, made of perfect quality beach sand tens of thousands of years old. The value of these ancient sand hills to sea life, fishermen, scientists and beach-building engineers has set up a fight between those who would protect them and those who would mine them. And that battle is only expected to intensify as rising sea levels are expected to magnify. Meanwhile, every beach on New Jersey’s 127-mile coast will soon have been engineered or replenished after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promising to keep replenishing them for another 50 years. There are only two projects left to do – the Absecon Island project covering Longport through Atlantic City, and the Monmouth/Ocean counties project covering Manasquan to Barnegat inlets. Read the story here 14:12

Virginia Institute of Marine Science Orders Research Vessel

Virginia Institute of Marine Science of Gloucester Point, Va. awarded a contract to Meridien Maritime Reparation of Matane, Quebec to construct a 93-foot research vessel. JMS Naval Architects of Mystic, Conn. designed the research vessel to replace VIMS’s current vessel, the R/V Bay Eagle. The primary mission of the Institute’s fleet is to provide inshore and offshore work platforms for the support of fisheries related oceanographic research projects. The new vessel will be capable of conducting fisheries assessments of greater capacity, in deeper waters and with a larger science complement than the Bay Eagle. In addition, the new vessel will greatly expand VIMS’s capability to perform general oceanographic research in the Chesapeake Bay and the mid-Atlantic near coastal waters. The state-of-the-art research vessel offers enormous capability in a small package that is also economic to build and operate. Read the rest here 13:28

McCrory set stage for latest threat to shrimping

The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission appears poised to pass a new regulation that many critics say will drastically impact, perhaps even shut down, North Carolina’s shrimping industry. On Jan. 17, the Marine Fisheries Commission will be holding a hearing in New Bern on the rule, which would essentially make all inland waterways a “secondary nursery” for fin fish, significantly curtailing the use of trawl nets to harvest shrimp. After a huge turnout at a public hearing in 2013, the MFC denied a petition from an individual angler to implement similar rules. But with anti-shrimping forces possessing what appears to be a super-majority on the MFC, the petition and hearings are back, this time proposed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, a group closely allied with the Coastal Conservation Association — a special interest group that has long sought to ban shrimp trawls and finfish netting from the state’s inland waters. Ironically, local commercial fishermen, who have heavily supported the GOP in state elections, have former Governor Pat McCrory to thank for their predicament. Read the story here 10:56

Stakeholders Seek Baltimore Canyon National Marine Sanctuary Designation Withdrawal

Two weeks after the National Aquarium expressed a willingness to consider withdrawing an application to designate the Baltimore Canyon as a , a coalition of local marina owners and boat captains last week fired off a letter seeking to hold him to his word. Last week, attorney Mark Cropper, who represents multiple resort area marinas, boat owners and captains and other stakeholders in the resort area, fired off his own letter to Racanelli essentially holding the National Aquarium CEO to his word and calling for the application to be withdrawn as offered. Read the story here 08:47

Opponents line up in showdown over limits to shrimp trawling

Hyde County Commissioners, along with local stakeholders and seafood advocates, have issued strong opposition to proposed rules that would result in major changes to the state’s commercial trawling industry. They say the restrictions could ultimately end the state’s access shrimp.,, Other rule changes outlined in the 99-page NCWF petition are: Limiting shrimp trawling to three days a week; limiting trawling to daytime only; limiting the total head rope (the span of the nets) to 90 feet; establishing 45-minute tow times; define type of gear and how it can be used in special secondary nursery areas;and opening the season based on a 60 shrimp per pound. Last week, Hyde County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution opposing the rules. Read the story here 15:16

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for January 9, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here  09:29

North Carolina: New trawl Bycatch Reduction Devices show promise

A state-initiated fishing industry workgroup is getting promising results with prototype bycatch reduction devices in shrimp trawls, and plans more tests this year. An industry work group created by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission met Monday at the Riverfront Convention Center to discuss ongoing testing of prototype BRDs, devices and gear configurations designed to reduce the amount of finfish and other marine life caught incidentally when fishing for a certain species, in this case shrimp. The group discussed the results of tests conducted in 2016 with four different BRDs towed by volunteer commercial shrimp harvesters, as well as set priorities for additional testing for this year. Last year was the first of a three-year research project the work group is conducting.  Jerry Schill, executive director of the N.C. Fisheries Association, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the state’s fishing industry, said the results from last year’s tests were “very positive.” “Even the (the work group members) were surprised at some of the results,” Mr. Schill said. “Ever since I started (in the fishing industry) 30 years ago, we’ve been trying to reduce bycatch in shrimp trawls.” Read the story here 15:01

From the Mayor’s Chair by Absecon Mayor John Armstrong – Keep summer flounder limits as they are

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do everything possible to preserve jobs and to attract new ones for our local residents. As a local mayor, my direct influence over regional issues affecting our economy is necessarily limited. Nevertheless, I still have a voice and I need to raise it when I see something happening which may affect the opportunity for Absecon residents to earn a living. Statement in Opposition to Implementation of Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII – As the Mayor of the City of Absecon, Atlantic County, New Jersey, I write to voice my firm opposition to the regulations promulgated by NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Council which would reduce the commercial quota and recreational harvest limits for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. Read the rest here 13:30

Commercial Fishing Pioneer And Poet David Krusa Dies At 75

Montauk resident David Krusa, a commercial fisherman and one of the pioneers of the local tilefish fishery, died this past week. He was 75. Mr. Krusa and his longtime fishing partner, John Nolan, were the first captains in Montauk and among the first on the East Coast to exclusively target tilefish, a golden-skinned species that inhabits the ocean bottom near the edge of the continental shelf and now supports a multimillion-dollar industry.  After a battle with lymphoma in the 1990s forced him to give up his career on the water, Mr. Krusa turned to woodworking and writing poetry and short stories to exercise his boundless mental and physical energy. His works were featured frequently in the East Hampton Star and also in the anthology “On Montauk.” Mr. Krusa died of heart failure on January 4, his family said. In addition to his wife, Mr. Krusa is survived by two sons, Kip, of Tennessee, and Lee, of California, a daughter, Margaret McKinnon, of Texas, and a brother, Christopher, of Illinois.Read the story here 08:36

43rd Annual East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Fishermen’s Expo is Jan. 15

The Maryland Watermen’s Association will host its 43rd annual East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Expo at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City this weekend. It’s the only event of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The weekend will be full of seminars, fisherman gear, equipment and more. Friday, the event will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m., Saturday the event will run from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Tradeshow pre-registration tickets can be found online for $25 and tickets to the Friday cocktail party can be found online, as well, for $35. Seminars will begin on Saturday at 11 a.m. and run every half hour with Don Webster of the University of Maryland Extension moderating. More info, Read the story here 12:29   Maryland Watermen’s Association website www.marylandwatermen.com

Truths About Trawl Life – Fisheries advocates expose truths and misconceptions regarding drastic NC shrimp industry rule changes

In the name of environmental stewardship, a non-profit group based in Raleigh and Charlotte has aimed their fire at the state’s commercial fishermen. Stakeholders say this effort could ultimately shut down a historic industry. According to their website mission statement, NC Wildlife Federation (NCWF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that “has worked for all wildlife and habitat bringing together citizens, outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and anglers, government and industry to protect North Carolina’s natural resources.” Their latest conservation effort is aimed towards a fishery that brings one of our state’s highest prized commodities to the table – fresh NC shrimp. Contrary to their mission statement, the NCWF has not brought together citizens in this effort, nor have they based their claims on industry facts. Calling the trawling industry “killers,” they’ve petitioned the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to drastically change rules for the fishery. Folks in the business of fresh seafood say these cuts will take fresh NC shrimp off the table for good. “Basically, the impact of this petition will be to shut down the NC shrimp industry,” said Jerry Schill, president of NC Fisheries Association. Fisheries advocates with NC Catch have compiled facts, complete with sources cited, to educate the public on some of the misrepresentation. This information, along with a host of benefits that come with enjoying fresh, local seafood can be found on their website, nccatch.org. Read the article here 11:40

Keep NC seafood (especially SHRIMP) on our tables online petition gains support

An Ocracoke resident has started an online petition to oppose a request from the N.C. Wildlife Federation before the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission for new rules that may put more restrictions on shrimp trawling. These petitions have come out while a fishing industry work group is about to receive information on bycatch reducing gear tests, and set priorities for additional tests this year. Megan Spencer of Ocracoke began a petition at the website change.org, a site dedicated to hosting petitions of all sorts, in early December. This petition, titled “Keep N.C. seafood (especially shrimp) on our tables,” calls for the MFC to deny a petition for rulemaking from the NCWF that, if granted, would designate all coastal fishing waters in the state not otherwise designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas. As of Saturday, Ms. Spencer’s petition has received 1,427 signatures. In her petition, she says that local businesses, fishing families and coastal communities depend on catches from trawlers – namely shrimp – as a source of economic commerce and locally-grown, organic protein. Read the story here To read and sign the “Keep NC seafood (especially SHRIMP) on our tables”, Click here 12:26

Feds Take Controversial Mid and South Atlantic Seismic Air Gun Testing Off Table

Federal officials announced on Friday a controversial plan to allow dangerous seismic air gun testing in a vast section off the mid-Atlantic coast including an area as close as 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City has been removed from consideration. With a proposal to lease a vast area totaling roughly three million acres off the mid-Atlantic coast to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas reserves already taken off the table last spring, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced on Friday a companion plan to open the same area to seismic airgun testing has been denied. Seismic airgun testing is used to determine what oil and natural gas reserves lie beneath the ocean floor. However, once the plan to allow offshore drilling off the mid-Atlantic coast was removed from consideration, at least for the next five years, BOEM officials determined there was no good reason to allow potentially dangerous seismic testing in the same areas off the mid-Atlantic coast including Ocean City and Assateague, for example. Read the story here 10:12

Congress Members Ask Commerce Secretary to Stop Summer Flounder Quota Cuts

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rulemaking that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The letter asks the Secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas. Under the rule, the summer flounder Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) would be reduced 29% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), joined Pallone in the letter. Read the rest here 09:12

Virginia Delegate moves to roll back penalties for commercial fishing violations

Virginia’s 18-month-old effort to crack down on oyster theft and other fisheries violations with stiffer penalties for offenders would be rolled back with a bill sponsored by Del. Gordon Helsel, R-Poquoson. Another measure would end a six-decade-old prohibition on taking oyster dredges through the sanctuaries the state set up to give undersized oysters a chance to grow. Helsel is proposing to cut the maximum penalty for violating state rules for harvesting shellfish and fin-fish to a two-year license suspension from the five-year limit the General Assembly unanimously approved in 2015. Helsel voted for the measure, which had strong backing from commercial fishermen. His bill, H.B. 1573, would also allow offenders to continue to catch other fish or shellfish than the type they took illegally — so, a waterman who violated rules about taking oysters from polluted waters or from a sanctuary would be allowed to continue crabbing or gill-netting. Legislation in 2013, which also passed unanimously, allowed the state to suspend all tidal water fishing privileges for offenders. Read the story here 07:48

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for January 2, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 18:42

Department of Energy Pulls the Funding Plug from Fishermen’s Energy Wind Project

The U.S. Department of Energy says Fishermen’s Energy failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to have a power purchase agreement in place. The department is revoking most of the $47 million in funding it pledged to the project in 2014; about $10.6 million has been spent already on preliminary work. In a written statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, the energy department said the Atlantic City project missed a key deadline. “Under the Energy Department’s award, Fishermen’s Energy must have secured a power offtake agreement by December 31 to be eligible for another round of funding,” the department said. “The criteria were not met by that date, so we have initiated the close-out process for the project.” Company CEO Chris Wissemann said Fishermen’s Energy hopes a last-ditch effort to secure a power deal will succeed. Read the story here 17:59

Video: Crew catches 16-foot “monster” great white shark off Hilton Head Island

Chip Michalove has been obsessed with sharks since he was 5 years old. So, it’s no surprise he grew up to become a charter fisherman. For the past 17 years, Michalove, the owner and captain of Outcast Sport Fishing on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has helped tag hundreds of sharks — mainly tiger sharks. But he hoped to one day fulfill his lifelong dream: to catch a great white in the Atlantic Ocean. On New Year’s Eve, Michalove’s dream came true in a big way. The fisherman hooked a 16-foot female great white shark. Video, read the story here 16:02

North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission to decide shrimp trawling regulations

The New Year will begin with a decision that could impact the livelihood of area commercial fishermen. The five advisory committees to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission will meet jointly on Jan. 17 in New Bern to receive public comment on a petition for rulemaking that would, if adopted, impact shrimp trawl fishing in most North Carolina waters. The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters not already designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas, including the ocean out to three miles. It also calls for establishing clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season and defining the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas (SSNAs) during shrimp season. The petition is being opposed by the North Carolina Fisheries Association,,, Read the rest here 11:42

East Coast Fishermen: not so fast with that wind farm  

Could sea scallops and longfin squid be reason enough to stop an offshore wind farm on the coast of New York and New Jersey? The Fisheries Survival Fund, which represents the majority of the U.S. Atlantic scallop industry, claims the site picked for the farm is on documented fishing grounds for both commercially important species. It claims the wind turbines would shut fishermen out. The group is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Sally Jewell, the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The BOEM has jurisdiction over the sea floor. Other plaintiffs include the Garden State Seafood Association, the Fishermen’s Dock Co-Operative in Point Pleasant Beach and the Borough of Barnegat Light. Read the story here 09:51

Georges Bank said to be ‘paved with fluke! Fishermen Assail NOAA Quotas – Schumer fears major job losses

Commercial fishermen on the draggers seen offshore last week took advantage of calmer seas and the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s raising of the daily limit on fluke from 70 to 210 pounds. The higher limit was in effect from Dec. 18 through Friday as the state’s annual quota for the fish, highly sought by commercial and recreational fishermen alike, had not been reached.,, Mark Phillips, who fishes on the F/V Illusion out of Greenport, was once among the largest harvesters of fluke in the state, landing a few hundred thousand pounds per year, by his count. The problem, Mr. Phillips said, is that stock assessments are inaccurate because NOAA conducts surveys — such as with its ship the Henry B. Bigelow, which collects data in waters from Maine to North Carolina — when fluke are migrating from undersea canyons to inshore waters. Read the story here 14:49

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for December 26, 2016

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 15:14

Menhaden are flourishing

A recent column by Chris Dollar (“Outdoors: The more menhaden the better,” Dec. 3) cites claims from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that the current management of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay has left the stock running low. The column also echoes the foundation’s position that the menhaden harvest cap should be lowered. The science suggests the opposite to be the case. In 2012, based on fears of overfishing, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission implemented a menhaden quota. Soon after the quota was implemented, scientists found the concerns of overfishing were misplaced. Further research found that menhaden are prospering coastwide. In fact, the ASMFC declared conclusively that menhaden are neither “overfished nor experiencing overfishing.” Read the rest here 15:58

New Report Identifies Sources of Nitrogen Loading in Local Waters

A new report has pinpointed sources of nitrogen loading in local waters. The New York Department of State released the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve water quality report on Wednesday, which identifies sources of pollution in eastern bays and takes a closer look at ways to improving the environmental health of local waters, a release said. Nitrogen sources identified in the report include stormwater runoff, drainage or seepage — including seepage from septic systems and cesspools. Other sources include failing or inadequate on-site wastewater treatment systems discharging to the bays, the report says. The “Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Eastern Bays Project: Nitrogen Loading, Sources, and Management Options” report was completed in cooperation with Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and is an important step in estimating the amount of nitrogen that causes water degradation to the South Shore of Long Island, officials said. Excess nitrogen has led to an increase in algal blooms, a reduction in seagrass beds that provide habitat for shellfish and finfish and a host of other water quality impairments. The nitrogen pollution has also contributed to the decline of shellfish and commercial fishing on Long Island, the report said. Read the story here 08:21

Fishing advocates seek delay in new limits on fluke fishing

Fishing advocates seeking to head off what they described as “devastating” reductions in the New York quota for fluke next year are calling on federal regulators to forestall planned 2017 cuts until a more current assessment of the fish population is completed. Led by frequent fishing advocate Sen. Chuck Schumer, a group of 50 recreational and commercial fishing boat captains and advocates gathered at the Captree Boat Basin in Babylon Thursday to say a planned 30 percent reduction would threaten hundreds of businesses. Schumer said he plans to reach out to the U.S. Department of Commerce and its newly nominated secretary, Wilbur Ross, to address his concerns, including requesting an expedited fluke population assessment and a suspension of the new cuts until improved data is available. Schumer said he was hopeful that Ross, a New Yorker who was once an adviser on the Long Island Lighting Co. buyout by LIPA, could step in to forestall management moves by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees councils that manage the fluke fishery. Schumer said he would reach out to President-elect Donald Trump, Ross and “whoever I have to to get this changed.” Read the story here 20:06

Baltimore Canyon “urban sanctuary” off OC worries fishermen

Capt. Monty Hawkins of Morning Star Fishing in Ocean City said the protection of one small patch of ocean does nothing to protect the ocean environment as a whole. “We have to do a whole lot better than what we are doing,” Hawkins said. “But taking the Baltimore Canyon and protecting the area directly around it is incredibly distressing, these are areas filled with recreational fishermen and commercial fishermen.” While the designation is said to not impact recreational fishing, the unique designation has worried local politicians and fishermen alike, who believe that the sanctuary status could impact the local economy; whether by curbing recreational and tournament fishing or impacting commercial vessels. In Maryland, offshore commercial fishing brings in around $78.2 million annually, or roughly 35 percent of the average annual catch for the Mid-Atlantic Coastline, according to the National Aquarium’s proposal to the NOAA. Read the story here 16:22

As the New York wind shills rallied, one fishing advocate stood alone.

More than 100 advocates for offshore wind, comprised of environmental and labor groups and politicians, rallied outside of Long Island Power Authority headquarters in Uniondale Tuesday morning urging the agency to sign a contract to purchase power from offshore wind. LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone, who sat with several model wind turbines on the table in front of him, told activists who packed LIPA’s board room for the agency’s monthly board of directors meeting after the rally that he expected to have a big announcement about offshore wind in the new year. Long Island Commercial Fishing Association Executive Director Bonnie Brady of Montauk was the one person in attendance at the LIPA meeting Tuesday who expressed skepticism about offshore wind, where the board took about half an hour of public comment. “The reality is, this is not a clean project,” she said, adding that there is a glut of power on Long Island, but the LIPA grid is broken. Read the story here 14:35

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for December 19, 2016

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here 10:05