Category Archives: Mid Atlantic

Nils Stolpe, Fishnet USA – So how are we doing? (2017 edition) A Report on our Domestic Commercial Fishing Industry

I occasionally share my impressions of how the domestic commercial fishing industry is doing, using as my primary data source the NMFS online database “Annual Commercial Landing Statistics” (click here). We are fortunate to have these extensive records of commercial landings of fish and shellfish in the United States extending back to 1950 because they allow a fairly comprehensive view of long term industry (and resource) trends. Among the most useful statistics are those dealing with the value and weight of the total landings for each year. Together they give an overview of how the domestic fishing industry is progressing (or regressing) from year to year. Click here to read the report 11:49

Rutherford, others sign letter opposing Atlantic coast seismic testing for oil exploration

The same day that President Donald Trump touted new energy policies during a speech at the U.S. Department of Energy that he said were part of a “golden era of American energy,” Rep. John Rutherford’s office released a letter signed by him more and than 100 other members of Congress that voiced opposition to the use of a controversial oil and gas exploration technique off the Atlantic Coast. “We are writing in strong opposition to your recent secretarial order to move forward with offshore oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean,” the letter, signed by members of both parties and addressed to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, began. “Offshore oil and gas exploration, the first step of which is seismic air gun testing, puts at risk coastal economies based on fishing, tourism, and recreation,” it said before asking Zinke not to issue any permits for the surveys. click here to read the story 09:10

A Fisherman’s Life – Sammy Corbett

When you live and breathe fishing, it’s important to keep an ample supply of bait on hand. Time spent running to the store is time that could be spent on the water. Sammy Corbett found a simple fix to the problem. “I remember he used to live on Pelican Drive in Wrightsville Beach,” says childhood friend Robbie Wolf. “He drained his parents’ swimming pool and pumped salt water in so he could store live bait in it.” When you live and breathe fishing, you don’t let a little spell of bad weather stop you. “Me and him went trout fishing one day and we were about to freeze,” Wolf says. “He lit cans of Sterno and made a fire in the middle of the boat.” Those two stories sum up Sammy Corbett. He’s a fisherman. Period. He’s on the water every day, unless he has to go to a meeting. His expertise — and his reputation — led to an appointment three years ago as chairman of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission. click here to read the story 08:58

Chesapeake Bay fishery to keep deteriorating unless nutrients from land are addressed

The March Bay Journal 2017 commentary, Don’t let menhaden become a case of could have, should have, would have, laments the decline in Bay menhaden populations and blames the reduced number of predatory “sport” fish on Omega Protein’s harvest (click here). The Atlantic States Marine fisheries Commission is quite clear this year that “Atlantic menhaden are neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing” (click here). In Maryland, juvenile menhaden are sampled annually through the Estuarine Juvenile Finfish Survey. The index of juvenile menhaden has been low since 1992, and “environmental conditions seem to be a major factor driving recruitment.” (click here). Something other than overfishing must contribute to, or even be responsible for, reduced Bay menhaden populations. I contend that the primary cause of depleted finfish stocks, including bottom-feeding fish like croaker that do not eat menhaden, and the menhaden themselves, is poor water quality, not overfishing. click here to read the story  12:17

New York DEC Will Talk About Licensing With Commercial Fishermen This Fall

State lawmakers said this week that they have persuaded the State Department of Environmental Conservation to meet with commercial fishermen to talk about expanding how many new commercial fishing licenses are issued. The DEC has agreed to meet with fishermen this fall to discuss revising the state’s policy on the transfer of licenses from one fisherman to another, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said this week. The agreement comes on the heels of lawmakers derailing a DEC request for a new three-year extension to existing commercial licensing guidelines, instead granting only a one-year extension contingent on DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and other agency officials meeting with fishermen to talk about the policy. click here to read the story 21:57

Mt. Sinai, 87-foot trawler, added to Manasquan Inlet Reef

The first planned vessel sinking on the new Manasquan Inlet Reef was completed on Tuesday. Mt. Sinai, an 87-foot trawler donated by Roy Diehl of Belford and the Belford Fisherman’s Cooperative, was sunk in about 75 feet of water, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP said the towing and preparation expenses for the vessel were sponsored by the Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association. The Manasquan Inlet Reef site starts about 1.2 miles offshore of Point Pleasant Beach. The entire area of ocean floor set aside to build the reef is nearly a square mile. The boundary lies within two miles of the beach and is in 67 to 75-foot water depths click here to read the story 21:17

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman from fishing vessel south of Long Island

Coast Guard crews medevaced a man from a fishing vessel 30-miles south of Shinnecock Inlet, New York, Monday evening. Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, an 87-foot patrol boat, were notified around 8:00 p.m., that a 34-year old man aboard a nearby fishing vessel, the Cameron Scott, had suffered a head injury after he was struck with a heavy cable earlier in the day. The Shrike launched their cutter smallboat with two Coast Guard EMS-trained personnel aboard. They arrived on scene at approximately 8:30 p.m., and boarded the Cameron Scott to render assistance. Watchstanders at Sector Long Island Sound also launched a Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to assist. At approximately 10:00 p.m., the aircrew arrived on scene, hoisted the injured man, and transported him to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for further care. The mans current medical condition is unknown. click here for video -USCG- 11:48

 

Blue Crabs Crest Tipping Point – Maryland and Virginia may limit harvest for the remainder of the season

After almost three decades of effort, Maryland’s treasured Chesapeake Bay crustacean, the blue crab, has achieved a major scientific benchmark. The number of spawning females has at last reached the minimum target level for optimum species viability: 215 million sooks. The 2017 Winter Dredge Survey put the female population at well over the minimum, 254 million, an impressive 31 percent increase from the prior year. This is an important moment, as just four years ago (and five years prior to that), the female crab population had been ­driven to dangerous, even population-collapse, levels.,, To protect overall numbers, the Maryland, Virginia and Potomac River Fisheries Commission has proposed shortening the crabbing season and imposing stricter bushel limits on female crabs. No changes to male crab limits were proposed. click here to read the story 16:25

Feds interview Tangier watermen, look into oyster sales records in Crisfield

Officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visited several watermen on Tangier Island and seafood businesses in Crisfield last week as part of an investigation they are conducting related to oysters. Federal officials would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, saying that’s their policy. But Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, did confirm “federal law enforcement activity” in Crisfield and Tangier last Wednesday. Tangier Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge said the officials came in two boats and a helicopter; at first, he said, he thought President Donald Trump had arrived. click here to read the story 12:05

Sharks have been a major disruption for fishermen off the Outer Banks this year

Sharks are chomping the catch of the day. Fishing off the Outer Banks has been great this year, especially with big hauls of tuna. But boat captains are losing from one or two to 20 fish a day to the opportunistic predators. Able to smell, hear or sense the struggling fish from miles away, sharks come like a pack of wolves. In some cases, anglers are reeling in nothing but the head. “You can’t even get a fish to the boat,” said Jack Graham, first mate on the Fintastic, a charter boat based at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. “You get a bite and look back and there’s just a big cloud of blood.”Sharks are taking the catch along with thousands of dollars in fishing gear, he said. click here to read the story 16:00

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for June 23, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here  We were saddened to hear of the passing of James Berrie Gaskill of Ocracoke. He died on Wednesday while tending his nets. NCFA Board, Members and Staff offer our most sincere condolences and prayers to his family. 17:54

Senator Ken LaValle And Assemblyman Fred Thiele Pass Legislation To Create New York Seafood Marketing Task Force

“I am proud of the work Senator LaValle and I have done to push this legislation forward,” said Assemblyman Thiele, prime sponsor of the bill. “The creation of a seafood marketing task force will ultimately help increase demand for the product, stimulating the economy and creating jobs for our coastal communities. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have already established such measures with great success.”,,, The New York Seafood Marketing Task Force would support and collaborate with the State’s vast fishing community to promote the marketing and sustainability of New York seafood. The task force would provide the Governor and Legislature with a report of its progress and findings. These reports would address the research, marketing, and funding opportunities. click here to read the story 20:16

Garden State officials make their case to feds as fluke battle rages on

With New Jersey’s summer flounder fishing industry on the line, Garden State officials made their case to fisheries on Tuesday afternoon. In a hearing with the federal agency, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection officials argued that the state’s regulations for summer flounder (or fluke) fishing reach conservation equivalency with new federal regulations. The cornerstone of New Jersey’s argument: That the state’s proposed regulations will actually preserve more of the summer flounder stock than the measures being put forth by the feds. Tuesday’s call was closed to the press, but in a statement following the call NJDEP spokesperson Bob Considine described it as a “good discussion.” click here to read the story 08:37

The Bunker Resurgence: The Good News Beyond Recent Fish Kills

According to Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Arlington, Virginia, “Results of the 2015 stock assessment indicate that the [menhaden] stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring.”Joe Warren, an associate professor with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, agrees. Professor Warren’s lab uses acoustics to estimate the biomass (weight) of menhaden in the Peconic River and Flanders Bay. That’s essentially the same technology recreational fishermen employ using fishfinders.,,, Warren further observed that each of the surveys encountered anywhere from five to 25 schools that could range from hundreds to tens of thousands of fish. The professor cited anecdotal evidence that there are more bunker in New York waters as humpback whales off the Atlantic coast on the south side of Long Island have been observed feeding on bunker during the past several years. click here to read the story 15:37

New Jersey man convicted of attempted murder in fish boat shooting case – faces life in prison

A man who shot a Whitesboro woman aboard a fishing vessel docked at Lund’s Fisheries in October 2015 has been convicted of attempted murder, Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor said. Ernest P. Davis, 44, also was convicted of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and hindering his own prosecution following a one-week trial in Cape May County Superior Court, Taylor said. On Oct. 3, 2015, Davis shot Doris Howell, 39, with a shotgun while aboard the fishing vessel “Storm,” which was docked in Lower Township. As a result of the shooting, Howell’s left foot and part of her calf were amputated, Taylor said.  Taylor said due to the charges and Davis’s criminal history, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment with an 85 percent parole disqualifier. click here to read the story 12:22

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.,,, Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues. click here to read the press release 11:32

Offshore Wind Faces Stiff Test From Hurricanes

As new offshore wind farms are built off the Northeast coast, a new report suggests that the current models of wind turbines may not withstand the most powerful of hurricanes. The study, by the University of Colorado Boulder, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the U.S. Department of Energy, is intended to help the budding offshore wind industry as it expands into hurricane-prone regions, such as the East Coast. “We wanted to understand the worst-case scenario for offshore wind turbines, and for hurricanes, that’s a Category 5,” said Rochelle Worsnop, lead author and a graduate researcher in the University of Colorado’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC). click here to read the story 10:58

Can offshore wind revive America’s ports? This town hopes so

New Bedford – This salt-caked fishing port has been flush with wind prospectors ever since Massachusetts legislators passed a law for massive wind development in the shallow waters south of Martha’s Vineyard.,,, States up and down the Atlantic coast are rushing to become the capital of America’s burgeoning offshore wind industry, hoping the massive turbines will breathe new life into ports mired by a shrinking fishing industry and a flagging industrial base. Maryland officials last month approved renewable energy credits for two developments totaling 368 megawatts off their shores in a bid to transform Baltimore and Ocean City into the industry’s manufacturing and maintenance hub in the Mid-Atlantic (Climatewire, May 12). Lawmakers in New Jersey are counting down the days until Gov. Chris Christie (R) leaves office early next year, when they plan to restore their own credits for offshore wind developments (Energywire, June 9). In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wants to bring 2,400 megawatts of wind power online by 2030 (Energywire, Jan. 11). But few places are betting on offshore wind quite like New Bedford. click here to read the story 11:58

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for June 16, 2017

Click here to read the Weekly Update, to read all the updates, Click here Seafood Lobby Day this past Wednesday was a tremendous success! 15:02

A meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – Concerns aired about Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

Fishing groups from around New England met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday to air complaints about former President Barack Obama’s designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument last year. The monument, the first marine national monument in U.S. Atlantic waters, protects about 4,000 square miles of ocean 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod. Fishermen say the protected area in which fishing is prohibited hurts their business and places an undue burden on an already heavily regulated industry. But Priscilla Brooks, vice president and director of ocean conservation at the Conservation Law Foundation, said the former administration did take fishermen’s concerns into account. Obama reduced the size of the original proposed monument by 60 percent and allowed lobster and crab fishermen a seven-year grace period to continue fishing there. “There was a robust public process,” she said. (BS!) click here to read the story 08:25

A Message from John Bullard, Regional Administrator – There Is No Silver Bullet for Groundfish

The great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” You can also learn a lot by listening. I try to do a lot of listening. I think it’s the most important part of my job, and of all of our jobs at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. With all of the activity in the last couple of months, there has certainly been a LOT to listen to. For example, we held recreational roundtable meetings in New Jersey and New Hampshire and a commercial roundtable in New Bedford. We also attended the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings and an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting.  click here to read the rest 16:14

Searching for Atlantic bluefin tuna larvae and more in the Slope Sea

The NOAA Vessel Gordon Gunter departed on June 10 from Newport, Rhode Island, and immediately headed off the continental shelf to water deeper than 1,000 meters (about 3,300 feet) known as the Slope Sea.  The Slope Sea is an area of the ocean that is bounded to the north and west by the northeast United States Continental Shelf and to the south by the Gulf Stream, whose dynamic currents provide a strong influence over the area.,,, In recent decades, the common view of Atlantic bluefin tuna was that they spawned only in two places, the Mediterranean Sea in the Eastern Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico in the western Atlantic.  However, in the summer of 2013 two cruises sampled the Slope Sea, both of them achieving noteworthy catch rates of early-stage bluefin tuna larvae.  These collections were consistent with a hypothesis first put forward in the 1950s that the Slope Sea was a third spawning ground for this species.  Follow up sampling in 2016 again achieved notable catch rates of bluefin tuna larvae. click here to read the story 15:37

NOAA Fisheries Announces Reimbursement Rate of 60 Percent for 2017 At-Sea Monitoring Costs in Groundfish Fishery

Effective at-sea monitoring (ASM) programs are essential to the success and sustainability of Greater Atlantic Region fisheries. Groundfish vessels in the Greater Atlantic Region that participate in the sector program are required to carry a fisheries observer or an at-sea monitor for a portion of their trips. Fisheries observers are provided and typically paid for by the Federal government in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) program and at-sea monitors are partially paid for by industry in the at-sea monitoring program. In 2016, industry began paying their portion of at-sea monitoring costs and NOAA Fisheries was able to reimburse 85 percent of industry’s expenses for July 2016-April 2017. Read the press release here 13:01

Cause of Action Digs In: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Designation: Some Stakeholders Are More Equal Than Others

This week we review the procedural history of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument (“Atlantic Monument” or “Monument”) designation, which was made by President Obama on September 15, 2016 (“Proclamation”), and show that certain, privileged, non-governmental entities were granted access to detailed information on the forthcoming monument and allowed input into the designation, while other stakeholders—notably those with specific legal authority, such as Regional Fishery Councils—were denied input and access.,,,  The following history, derived from the partial responses to CoA Institute’s FOIA requests and other publicly available documents, is illustrative: In March 2015, the Conservation Law Foundation (“CLF”) and Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”),,, click here to read the story. Hang onto your Sou’wester. 17:53

Judge strips $2.8M tournament prize from Fla. fisherman

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a Florida fisherman is not entitled to the $2.8 million in prize money he won in a Maryland fishing tournament last summer. Phillip Heasley and the crew of his Naples, Fla.-based boat, the Kallianassa, put their fishing lines in too early, violating the rules of the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md., the judge ruled. Three New Jersey men – Trenton police sergeant Brian Suschke, Trenton firefighter Rich Kosztyu and Ocean County boat owner Damien Romeo – could land $2.3 million of the money, but the judge’s decision did not yet rule on the awarding of the money. Because the matter is still technically pending, with a decision expected on the money, Suschke declined further comment, except to say the three men are “happy to have cleared one legal hurdle.” click here to read the story 09:49

Watermen, locals descend on Raleigh to fight fisheries bill – The true toll of a treacherous bill on commercial fishing

Hundreds of commercial fishermen and their families, along with local government and agency leaders spent Wednesday walking the halls of the North Carolina Legislative Building in an effort to battle a bill they say could shut down the entire industry. House Bill 867 would attempt to rewrite the Fisheries Reform Act, which is the body of statutes that provides the framework for fisheries management in North Carolina. The event was organized by North Carolina Watermen United and the North Carolina Fisheries Association.,, But just as opponents were arriving on Jones Street in Downtown Raleigh, many wearing white T-shirts and red buttons calling for a no vote, word trickled out that the legislation was being amended. click here to read the story 08:47

The true toll of a treacherous bill on commercial fishing – Sandy Semans Ross –  If he had bothered to come, I wanted to explain what is obvious to me but apparently less so to others. But he didn’t come, so I share my words with you. I would have told him that the coastal economy as a whole is unique because of its proximity to the ocean and the sounds. click here to read the story

Greenstick Tuna Fishing

Inspired by commercial tuna fishermen, a new generation of recreational anglers now targets tuna with a green stick. The boats around us, fishing commercially, were outfitted with a 40-foot vertical pole called a green stick. At the time, only a few commercial boats rigged this way. By the next season, half the charter fleet had joined the stick fight. Lately, green sticks are popping up on private boats, and smaller versions are available for boats less than 30 feet. But installing, rigging and using this deadly tactic is a major investment of time and money. Here’s how to do it right. click here to read the story 16:15

Monument review includes Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Papahahanoukuakea National Marine Monument’s

President Donald Trump’s call to review 27 national monuments established by three former presidents,,, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made his first recommendation Monday: Proposing a reduced size for the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. He is set to issue a final report in late August for all the monuments. A closer look at five of the monuments that are being re-examined: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, The designation closed the area to commercial fishermen, who go there primarily for lobster, red crab, squid, whiting, butterfish, swordfish and tuna. A coalition of commercial fishing groups filed a lawsuit in March to overturn the designation. They argued the creation of the monument would bring economic distress to fishermen and their families. Papahahanoukuakea National Marine Monument,The decision to expand the monument was the subject of fierce debate within Hawaii, with both sides invoking Native Hawaiian culture to argue why it should or shouldn’t be expanded. click here to read the story 08:30

Mid-Atlantic Council Approves Squid Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved the Squid Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan during a meeting last week in Norfolk, Virginia. The amendment includes measures to reduce latent (unused) permits in the longfin squid fishery and modify management of longfin squid during Trimester 2. After considerable discussion and consideration of public comments, the Council selected preferred alternatives and adopted the amendment for Secretarial review and implementation. Below are summaries of the issues addressed and the Council’s preferred alternatives. click here to read the notice 16:55

President: “Fishermen for Trump, I like that,”

President Donald J. Trump came to New Jersey on Sunday to headline a fundraiser for the re-election of Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ 3rd District) at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. While the event was closed to the media, cellphone video posted from the event shows the President speaking to assembled guests – who sources say helped raise more than $800,000 for the MacArthur campaign – and asking where his fishermen were seated as he reaches into his suit pocket and fishes out a Fishermen for Trump bumper sticker created during the 2016 election by the RFA. “Fishermen for Trump, I like that,” the President said on Sunday at Bedminster while holding up the bumper sticker in front of the audience, flanked by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rep. MacArthur. click here to read the story  12:57