Category Archives: Mid Atlantic

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

Could N.J. defy summer flounder cuts?

It didn’t take long after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to slash summer flounder harvest quotas for the rumblings of anglers calling for New Jersey to defy the regulations to pick up. The ASMFC ordered the harvest cut by 40-percent based on science that indicates the fish is declining in abundance and survey data that reports anglers overreached their quotas last year. The science and angling surveys are at the center of the issue. Many lawmakers in New Jersey and its environmental chief have expressed concern about its accuracy because it relies on random sampling. “We understand the long-term impacts of overfishing a species. But we also know for a fact that fluke are abundant and the population is stable off New Jersey,” said Bob Martin, the Commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Video, Read the story here 16:25

UNH researchers ID bacteria contaminating seafood in seven Atlantic coastal states and Canada.

University of New Hampshire scientists in partnership with the FDA and public health and shellfish management agencies in five states have identified a new strain of a bacterial pathogen that has contaminated seafood, sickening shellfish consumers along the Atlantic Coast at increasing rates over the last decade. N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station scientists have discovered that a Vibrio parahaemolyticus strain identified as ST631 is a predominant strain endemic to the Atlantic Coast of North America and has been traced to shellfish harvested in seven Atlantic coastal states and Canada. ST631 is the second most prevalent strain isolated from patients sickened by product sourced to the Northeast United States. Vibrio parahaemolyticus is the leading seafood-transmitted bacterial pathogen worldwide with an estimated 45,000 infections in the United States every year. It causes gastroenteritis and, rarely, lethal septicemia. The findings were announced in a letter to the editor at the Journal of Clinical Microbiology “Sequence Type 631 Vibrio parahaemolyticus, an Emerging Foodborne Pathogen in North America.” Read the story here 09:31

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