Category Archives: New England

New England’s cod catch in nosedive

The decline of the fishery has made the U.S. reliant on foreign cod, and cod fish fillets and steaks purchased in American supermarkets and restaurants are now typically caught by Norway, Russia or Iceland in the north Atlantic. In Maine, which is home to the country’s second-largest Atlantic cod fishery, the dwindling catch has many wondering if cod fishing is a thing of the past. “It’s going to be more and more difficult for people to make this work,” said Maggie Raymond, executive director of the Associated Fisheries of Maine. State records say 2016 was historically bad for cod fishing in Maine. Fishermen brought less than 170,000 pounds of the fish to land in the state last year.,,, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an assessment of the Gulf of Maine cod stock in 2014 that said the spawning population was at its lowest point in the history of the study of the fish. Scientists have cited years of overfishing and inhospitable environmental conditions as possible reasons for the decline. continue reading the story here 09:50

Maine lobstermen figured out how to make more money off their catches

A lobstermen-only fishing organization has purchased a local lobster wholesale business, extending the reach of its members further down the distribution chain and giving them a greater share of the profit off their catch. The Maine Lobstering Union, formed in 2013 in the wake of a sharp drop in prices paid to lobstermen by dealers, is buying Seal Point Lobster Co., a wholesale lobster distribution firm owned by the Pettegrow family. The Pettegrows also own the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound restaurant, which is not part of the sale.,, “It’s about putting lobstermen in a better position in the value stream on the shore side of the industry that they’ve never had access to,” Pitcher said recently. Read the story here 08:35

Boat captain charged in crewmen’s deaths arrested after overdosing on heroin

A Cushing captain accused of causing the deaths of two crew members when his lobster boat sank in a storm is behind bars again after he reportedly overdosed on heroin. Christopher A. Hutchinson, 28, was arrested Thursday by the Maine Marine Patrol after U.S. District Court Judge Brock Hornby issued an arrest warrant for him on Wednesday.,,Hutchinson was arrested Dec. 19 on two counts of seaman’s manslaughter and released three days later on $10,000 unsecured bail. The court imposed conditions that Hutchinson not use or possess illegal narcotics. But on March 13, Waldoboro emergency medical services and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an unresponsive man at a residence in Friendship, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in U.S. District Court in Portland. Read the story here 14:13

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

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

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

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

Proposed regulations irk lobstermen

Bay State lobstermen fear that a new proposal — meant to save lobsters in warming southern New England waters — could hurt business by barring them from harvesting in prime summer months and putting tighter restrictions on the size of their catch. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will present a plan in New Bedford tonight on ways to maintain or increase the number of lobsters in waters from southern Massachusetts to Delaware. “Over the last 15 years we’ve seen a decline in lobster abundance, and we think that’s by and large a response to warming ocean temperatures,” said Dan McKiernan, deputy director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. “That’s the challenge that we have — it’s trying to preserve lobster but doing it in a way that the industry can survive,” he added. Yet Massachusetts lobstermen argue that their pots are full and don’t see what the fuss is all about. video, read the story here 15:58

Maine fishermen see warning signs in lobster surge

After Maine’s lobster industry set sales records for a second straight year, area fishermen are enjoying the boom while the water is warm. Literally. Rising sea temperatures are benefiting Maine’s iconic crustacean, leading to an increase in population while other marine species, such as soft-shell crabs, have suffered a decline, according to fishermen who spoke at a March 16 Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association panel. But the factors for today’s success may portend tomorrow’s economic and cultural disaster, according to some area fishermen. “We’re going to start going down when it gets warmer,” Maine Lobstermen’s Association President Dave Cousens told the audience at the Frontier Cafe. Cousens was joined by MCFA President Gerry Cushing, of Port Clyde; Chebeague Island fisherman Alex Todd, and lobsterman Steve Train of Long Island. continue reading the story here 11:07

Tag from famous fishing boat washes up in Fanore

A tag, believed to be from one of the Hannah Boden’s lobster pots, has travelled up to 5,000 kilometres across the North Atlantic to where it washed up on Fanore Beach on March 14th. The discovery was made by avid beach comber Liam McNamara who also made contact with the crew of the Hannah Boden to check its authenticity. Liam said: “The is a great beachcombers find and a very cool story indeed. I was walking on Fanore beach last Tuesday and saw it wrapped in seaweed. I know what it was straight away has I had seen the film. It is in fact a tag from the now very famous New England boat, the Hannah Boden, which survived “The Perfect Storm” of 1991 while her sister boat the Andrea Gail which was lost at sea with all hands during the same storm,” he said. read the story here 10:28

State unreceptive to squid-fishing petition

David Pierce, director of the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, started yesterday’s public hearing on whether to bar trawlers from fishing for squid within three miles of Nantucket by listing the reasons he does not support a local petition to keep them away from the island from May 1 to Oct. 31. By the end of the four-hour meeting, attended by an overflow crowd at the Public Safety Facility, Nantucket charter captain and former commercial fisherman Pete Kaizer hoped Pierce had changed his mind on at least one thing: that trawlers disrupt what are called squid mops in a way that kills squid eggs and affects spawning. subscription site, more info to follow as it becomes available. 09:46

Federal regulators put an end to turbulent season in northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery

Federal authorities are closing the scallop fishery in the northern Gulf of Maine at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after a contentious three-week season that pitted the interests of part-time, small-boat fishermen from Maine against large, full-time scallop operators. Fisheries regulators announced the closure Wednesday after small-boat fishermen – many of them Maine lobstermen operating 40- to 45-foot boats – met their annual quota of 70,000 pounds. The developments do not apply to the scallop fishery in state waters, which extend to 3 miles from shore. This year’s federal harvest has been contentious because the large, full-time boats are believed to have caught more than 1 million pounds of scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishing area, but owing to a quirk in federal rules the fishery could not be closed until the small vessels caught 70,000 pounds. This month’s storms and unseasonable weather had kept the small boats in port, delaying their ability to meet their annual quota and close the area to the larger vessels, who were permitted to continue harvesting large quantities of scallops under federal rules. continue reading the story here 07:57

More than 8,000 pounds of stolen scallops circulated through New Bedford port

More than 8,000 pounds of stolen scallops valued at the time at $192,050 circulated through multiple seafood houses last December, according to court documents obtained by The Standard-Times. New Bedford police began investigating the disappearance of the scallops from Continental Cold Storage in February. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Antonio Vieira and Michael Caton, claiming 8,350 pounds of scallops were stolen from Seatrade International and that Viera attempted to sell them to a number of seafood houses in New Bedford. Vieira is a resident of Tiverton, Rhode Island, and Caton, formerly a resident of Riverside, Rhode Island, now resides in California. An employee of Continental Cold Storage at the time of the incident, Vieira was charged in March for larceny from a building, uttering false pretenses, forging a document and conspiracy. In a 24-page narrative, New Bedford Police Detective Barry J. Pacheco detailed his investigation,, continue reading the story here 19:06

Comment on Amendment 23 re: Slighted Ports – Jim Kendall

I wasn’t going to offer a comment on this Amendment simply because GARFO & company has once again chosen to ignore the value & the importance of holding a public hearing with the New Bedford/Fairhaven, & Rhode Island groundfish fishermen! My comment with regard to Amendment 23 to the NE GroundFish Multispecies’ FMP remains the same as I last tried to convey to the NEFMC & RA John Bullard! When the hell does New Bedford/Fairhaven, the largest groundfish port on the East Coast, rate a Scoping Hearing? This same question is being raised in Rhode Island as it pertains to them as well. continue reading the rest here 16:34

Gov. Paul LePage: US should take on EU-Canada lobster tariff plan

Maine’s governor says the U.S. should challenge a European Union plan to lift tariffs on Canadian lobster. Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, says the tariff deal would put Maine lobsters at a “significant disadvantage” to Canada. He made the comments during an appearance on WVOM-FM on Tuesday. American lobster wholesalers and retailers are concerned about the possibility of a tariff change, in part because the exchange rate already favors Canada. The EU imported more than $150 million in lobster from the U.S. last year. LePage says it’s time to go to Washington and “instill in them how serious this is.” He says he intends to use his connections with the Trump administration to push the issue. Link 09:17

York wavers on lobster co.’s big plans after owner’s arrest

The town could reconsider its involvement in securing a federal grant for lobster wholesaler Maine Coast, following the arrest over the weekend of Tom Adams, the company’s owner. The grant is a crucial part of a planned $1.2 million expansion of Maine Coast that would create jobs for local residents. Town Manager Steve Burns recently filed a letter of intent on behalf of the town, seeking a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, which would be matched by Maine Coast. He said Tuesday, though, that Adams’ arrest could change things. Adams was arrested on a charge alleging drunken driving following an accident that sent local electrician Chris Welch to the hospital. “The question is, does it change the risk of the town?” said Burns. “The business is obligated to create 10 jobs. If all of a sudden it’s impacted because of legal action, does that expose the town?” continue reading the story here 08:11

Small-boat scallop fishermen worry about being overwhelmed by larger boats in the Gulf of Maine

Since the start of the scallop season this month, Jim Wotton has dragged heavy dredges along the seabed off Gloucester, hauling in as much as 200 pounds a day of the valuable clams, the area’s federal limit for small-boat fishermen. Now, to his dismay, dozens of larger, industrial-sized boats have been steaming into the same gray waters, scooping up as many scallops as they can. Unlike their smaller counterparts, the large vessels have no quota on the amount they can catch; they’re only limited by the number of days they can fish.,, NOAA officials acknowledge the fishermen’s concerns, but have declined to take emergency action to close the fishery.,, Representatives of the larger boats say they have every right to fish in the area, and insist their catch won’t threaten the fishery.,, “The situation this year can’t continue and support a strong fishery year in and year out in the Gulf of Maine,” said Pete Christopher, a supervisory fishery policy analyst at NOAA Fisheries. “The council needs to change the way the fishery operates.” read the story here 18:52

Maine Lawmakers ask NOAA about trouble in scallop fishing industry

Two lawmakers from Maine want to know what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is doing to address trouble in the Atlantic scallop fishing industry. U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, say NOAA should work to ensure sustainability in the high-value fishery. A disagreement over the right to fish for the scallops has recently pitted small boats against big boats in the northern Gulf of Maine, a key fishing area. The federal government maintains different rules for the small- and big-boat fisheries, though they work some common areas. Pingree and King say they’ve heard concerns that the scallops are being overfished. They sent a letter to NOAA saying they’re concerned that an emergency action doesn’t seem to be on the table. Link 18:21

Please submit written comments – Amendment 23, Northeast Multispecies FMP, deadline 5 p.m. EST, Monday, April 3, 2017. 

The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is initiating the development of an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).   The Council is proposing to consider changes to the groundfish monitoring and reporting system to ensure it is providing accurate catch information necessary to manage the fishery efficiently. Click here to read about Amendment 23 (Groundfish Monitoring Amendment) You may attend any of the above scoping meetings to provide oral comments, or you may submit written comments on Amendment 23 by: Fax: (978) 465-3116; Email: [email protected] Mail at the address below.  Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director New England Fishery Management Council 50 Water Street, Mill #2 Newburyport, MA 01950 The comment deadline is 5 p.m. EST, Monday, April 3, 2017.   Please note on your correspondence; “Northeast Multispecies Amendment 23 Scoping Comments.” For some reason, there is no hearing slated in Rhode Island, and RI fishermen are wondering why there isn’t! 17:26

‘Wharfside Stories’ help unwrap history of Portland’s working waterfront

For more than 60 years Leland Merrill has made a daily pilgrimage to Widgery Wharf on the city’s waterfront. These days Merrill, now in his early 90s, no longer works a lobster boat, but he still has many friends on the wharf. Merrill’s tales of life and work among the lobstermen based in Portland Harbor is part of a new collaboration between the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and the Waterfront Alliance. The project, called “”Wharfside Stories”,” provides a look at various aspects of Portland’s working waterfront. It will be part of an exhibition that’s open to the public during the day-long Portland Unwrapped event taking place Wednesday at various venues throughout the city. continue reading the story here 16:44

How the illegal pursuits of a fishing empire could affect an entire industry already struggling under intense regulation.

He’s been dubbed the Codfather. Carlos Rafael, owner of a fishing empire that is the largest in the Northeast if not the country, is accused of exploiting federal fishery regulations to get ahead and misreporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish. His alleged crimes expose the pitfalls of a system meant to help fishermen and their catch coexist. It’s a tale of fraud, smuggling and organized crime better suited to the big screen than the docks of New Bedford.,, Besides tax evasion and fraud, the problem with Rafael’s plan is that it undermined the efforts of federal authorities to manage healthy fisheries and avoid over fishing.  Fishermen from Rhode Island to Maine have had their catches limited by federal quotas since 2009 under a program regulators say promotes sustainable fishing, but for many fishermen it’s meant hanging up their hooks. During the first year of the catch-share program, there were 440 commercial boats. That number dwindled to just 120 by 2013. Read the story here 09:16

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

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

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

Trade Deals: Maine Lobster industry fears lost sales from ramped-up Canadian exports

A new trade deal looming between Canada and the European Union is setting off alarm bells in the Maine lobster industry. The deal between Canada and the EU – the largest seafood consumer market in the world – would eliminate tariffs on Canadian lobster exports into Europe and give the Maritimes a competitive advantage over their American counterparts, who would be stuck selling lobsters with tariffs ranging from 8 percent for a live lobster to 20 percent on processed or cooked lobster. A weak Canadian dollar, which is now valued at about 75 percent of a U.S. dollar, will only make Canadian lobster that much more attractive to importers in the 28 member nations of the European Union, which is the second biggest importer of American lobsters, second only to Canada, according to trade data. In 2016, the EU imported $152 million worth of lobsters from the U.S., most of it from Maine. continue reading the story here 08:07

Rhode Island MAGA March!

Saturday, March 25, 11:00 – 14:00, at the Rhode Island State House. This is a NATIONAL event. All states will be marching the same day. We will kick off from Providence City Hall at 11 AM and march to the south side of the State House. Please bring signs.. wear your Trump gear and if you still have Trump yard signs bring them along. Speakers include.. John DePetro, Brandon Bell, Leanne Sennick, Joe Trillo and many more. Please SHARE this post. Click here 08:13

Proposals Aim To Restore Lobsters To Long Island Sound

A new interstate plan is being considered to try and halt the dramatic decline in lobster populations in Long Island Sound and southern New England waters, but experts warn none of these proposals may work in the face of global warming. The draft plan by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission includes possible changes in the size of lobsters allowed to be kept, reductions in the number of lobster traps allowed in the region, and additional lobster season closures. But a former president of the Connecticut Commercial Lobstermen’s Association, Nick Crismale of Branford, doubts the once-thriving lobster population in the Sound will ever recover. Increasingly warm waters in the Sound may have also resulted in an increase in fish species that prey on lobsters, like black sea bass, making any recovery more difficult, experts say. A number of Connecticut lobstermen believe the population plunge was triggered by the use of certain pesticides to kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. Read the story here 15:21

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

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

‘Codfather’ fraud plea hearing pushed back to end of the month

The hearing where a New Bedford fishing magnate is expected to plead guilty to federal fraud charges has been pushed back. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had originally announced the hearing for Carlos Rafael would be held on March 16, but Wednesday, the day before that hearing would have been, they announced it was rescheduled for March 30 at 2:30 p.m. Rafael is accused of lying to federal authorities for years about the quantity and species of fish his boats caught in order to evade federal fishing quotas — claiming it was all haddock, instead of other species that have stricter quotas. Video link 12:34

INVITATION: RI Seafood Strategy Meeting

YOU ARE INVITED! RI Food Strategy: Fisheries & Seafood Session  Thursday, March 23rd2-3PM Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation Commercial Fisheries Center, Building #61B URI East Farm Campus, Kingston, RI This event will provide an opportunity for fisheries/seafood stakeholders to learn about and provide feedback on a draft of the RI Food Strategy. The RI Director of Food Strategy, Sue AnderBois, will present an overview of the Rhode Island Food Strategy, focusing on the fisheries and seafood components. This RI Food Strategy is a five-year action plan that envisions a sustainable, equitable food system that builds upon traditions, strengths, and history while encouraging innovation and supporting the regional goal of 50% of the food eaten in New England be produced in the region by 2060. The Executive Summary (attached) and full draft of the RI Food Strategy are available at: www.relishrhody.com.  Please RSVP to Anna Malek Mercer at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you there! Click here  -The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation  www.cfrfoundation.org 10:20

China has finally developed a taste for lobster—and it’s keeping Maine fishermen flush with cash

Seafood is a classic luxury item in China. But until recently, people there weren’t big on lobster. The iconic, bright-red crustaceans were known as the “Boston lobster,” and were a rarity compared to other fancy oceanic eats like sea cucumbers or geoduck clams. But the economic boom in China has given the country’s swelling ranks of rich people a chance to expand their culinary horizons. For Maine’s lobster industry, the crustacean craze couldn’t have come at a better time. In 2016, Maine’s lobstermen landed more lobsters than ever in recorded history: 130 million pounds (59,000 tonnes), a haul that weighs as much as three Statues of Liberty. continue reading the article here 19:40

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

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

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

The Deliciously Fishy Case of the “Codfather”

The fake Russians met the Codfather on June 3, 2015, at an inconspicuous warehouse on South Front Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Codfather’s lair is a green and white building with a peaked roof, fishing gear strewn across a fenced-in backyard, and the words “Carlos Seafood” stamped above the door. The distant gray line of the Atlantic Ocean is visible behind a towering garbage heap. In the 19th century, New Bedford’s sons voyaged aboard triple-masted ships in pursuit of sperm whales; now they chase cod, haddock, and scallops. Every year, more than $350 million worth of seafood passes through this waterfront, a significant slice of which is controlled by the Codfather, the most powerful fisherman in America’s most valuable seafood port. Big Read! continue reading the story here 07:56

Mitchell set to testify to Congress about impact of marine monument this morning

Weather permitting, Mayor Jon Mitchell on Wednesday will be in Washington giving testimony to Congress about an underwater marine monument which former President Obama created with a stroke of the pen in 2016 over the protests of the fishing community. The spans nearly 5,000 square miles 150 miles off Cape Cod, and it was hailed by environmentalists for preserving enormous underwater mountains and vast, deep canyons only now being explored. Three years earlier, an underwater remotely-operated vehicle sent back pictures of incredible life forms and geological features. The NRDC was among the leaders of many organizations that jumped at the opportunity to preserve the monument against human activity, fishing in particular. read the rest here 07:18

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

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

Elver dealer indicted on charges of buying, selling illegally caught eels

Elver buyer William Sheldon, of Woolwich, faces a seven-count federal indictment on charges alleging he dealt in illegally harvested juvenile eels over a four-year period beginning in 2011. Sitting in Portland, a grand jury on March 1 charged Sheldon with one count of conspiracy, three counts of illegal trafficking in wildlife and three counts of “false labeling” under the federal Lacey Act. If convicted, Sheldon faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count. On Monday, Augusta attorney Walter McKee said his client would enter not guilty pleas at his appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III currently scheduled for March 30. The indictments arise out of a long-running federal and multistate investigation into illegal elver harvesting — called “Operation Broken Glass.” On April 30, 2014, federal wildlife agents and Maine Marine Patrol officers raided two rooms at Jasper’s Motel on High Street rented by Sheldon to execute a search warrant looking for evidence that he had taken part in the purchase and sale of illegally harvested elvers through his company Kennebec Glass Eels. Read the story here 13:07

New England’s Wild Fish Oil – Skate liver oil could boost fishing industry

Two engineers showed up at the Chatham Fish Pier a few winters ago and struck up a conversation with some fishermen who were unloading their catch. Steve Daly and Bill Hannabach asked for some of the fish because they were doing research for a new business venture. The fishermen obliged and the men took home totes with a variety of species. “You have two rubes from out of town. They could have easily said get out of here,” said Daly with a grin. “They didn’t know what we were doing. We could have been making fertilizer, we could have been making pottery.” This week Daly and Hannabach were once again at a Cape Cod dock, this time at Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich, with some of the same fishermen they had met when they first began experimenting with everything from monkfish to dogfish. But now they had with them the results of their foray into the fishing industry, their first product, MassOMEGA: New England’s Wild Fish Oil, set to be launched today and almost totally made from winter skate brought in by local fishermen. continue reading the story here 17:42

Coast Guard medevacs skipper suffering from chest pains 55 miles east of Gloucester, Mass.

A Coast Guard aircrew medevaced a 55-year-old man suffering from chest pains Sunday evening 55 miles east of Gloucester. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Boston received a report at around 6:30 p.m. that the master of the 75-foot fishing vessel America, homeported in Boston, was ill and in need of medical attention. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod and a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Station Gloucester launched to assist. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, was also diverted and assisted by relaying communications. Once the aircrew arrived, they hoisted the man and flew him to Massachusetts General Hospital. The seas were 3 to 5 feet and the winds were 25 knots at the time of the hoist. The air temperature was 26 degrees and the water temperature was 40 degrees. The man was reported to be conscious at the time of the transfer. Link 07:36

Changes and Cancellations – NEFMC – Weather Update for Coral Workshops, Herring MSE Peer Review

As a result of the winter storm that’s forecasted for our region on Tuesday, the New England Fishery Management Council is: (1) modifying the schedule for its two Coral Workshops; and (2) reminding members of the public who are interested in the Atlantic Herring MSE Peer Review that a webinar option is available.  Here are the details. CORAL WORKSHOP #1, NEW BEDFORD, MA:  This workshop will begin as planned at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 13 and extend into the early evening to accommodate as much of the original two-day agenda as possible.  The second day of the workshop — Tuesday, March 14 — has been cancelled to avoid unnecessary travel.  The workshop will be held at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 185 MacArthur Drive, New Bedford, MA 02740.

CORAL WORKSHOP #2, PORTSMOUTH, NH:  This workshop will take place on Wednesday, March 15 as originally scheduled, but the start-time has been advanced by two hours — from 9:00 a.m. to 11 a.m. — to allow additional travel time.  The workshop will be held at the Sheraton Harborside, 250 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801. ATLANTIC HERRING MSE PEER REVIEW:  The March 13-15 MSE peer review will proceed as planned on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Embassy Suites near Boston Logan Airport.  Technical experts involved in the peer review will be traveling to and from the meeting outside of the forecasted storm window. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. each day.  ALTERNATIVES TO TRAVELING:  Members of the public who are concerned about traveling may listen to the discussion via webinar or telephone. WEBINAR REGISTRATION:  Online access to the meeting is available at: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/473795069 14:42

 

Drop in herring a mystery in Maine as bait price booms

Scientists and fishermen are trying to figure out why Maine’s Atlantic herring catch — the largest in the nation — has fallen from 103.5 million pounds in 2014 to 77.2 million last year. The per-pound price of the fish at the dock has gone up 56 percent since 2014, and that price is eventually borne by people who buy lobsters. “The whole dynamic of the fishery has changed,” said Jeff Kaelin, who works in government relations for Lund’s Fisheries, which lands herring in Maine. Kaelin, and others who work in and study the fishery, thinks climate and the way the government manages herring may have played a role in the decline of catch. Atlantic herring are managed via a quota system, and regulators have slashed the quota by more than 40 percent since the early 2000s. Last year, herring were also difficult to catch far offshore, where they are typically caught in large amounts, but they were abundant closer to the New England coast. This led to a bait shortage, because fishermen are only allowed to catch a certain percentage of their quotas in inshore waters. Read the story here 10:15

An Interview with Captain Dave Marciano: Gloucester fishing comes into focus on new season of ‘Wicked Tuna’

The captains of Wicked Tuna, Nat Geo’s top-rated reality series, return for a sixth season Sunday, March 12 at 9 p.m. The cutthroat show about angling off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts, pits captains and their boats against each other in a no-holds-barred search for the largest tuna. And that’s largest in terms of size and profits. Among the returning captains are Tyler McLaughlin of the Pinwheel, Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise, TJ Ott of the Hot Tuna, Paul Hebert of the Wicked Pissah and Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com. They might be friendly on land, but in the open, choppy waters, they are competitors with the final prize in mind. Recently, Hollywood Soapbox spoke with Marciano about the upcoming season and the bounty of fish that actually changed the angling for everyone. Answers have been edited for style and brevity. Read the interview here 14:02

Maine Fisherman details nearly losing his hand, amazing recovery

Nearly two months ago, a scallop fisherman got his lower arm caught in a hydraulic winch. It nearly took his hand off. Doctors were able to re-attach it, in one of the most difficult surgeries they’d ever performed. In 35 years of fishing off the coast of Maine, Rick Callow says he’s been injured many times, but nothing like what happened to him seven weeks ago on his fishing boat, the E Cosi. He and his crew were using a winch to haul in a catch of scallops when his glove got caught in the capstan, the revolving cylinder used to wind the cable. “It jerked my hand towards the capstan,” Callow said. “Pinched my glove in there, just the tip of my index finger.” Seconds later, the machine was ripping through his lower arm and hand. Video, read the rest of the story here 11:05

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help with the medical costs. Some of the pictures on that site are graphic.

Maine’s most fertile scalloping ground to close on Sunday

Fishing regulators are shutting down Maine’s most productive scallop fishing grounds for the season to protect the valuable shellfish. Cobscook Bay is the most important scalloping area along the Maine cost. Maine marine resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher says it needs to be shut down for the season on Sunday to make sure it stays fertile. Maine’s scallop season runs from December to April, but the closure of Cobscook typically represents a slowing down of the season. The state frequently shuts down scalloping areas early to conserve them for future years. Maine fishermen harvested more than 530,000 pounds of scallops in 2016. That was the second-most productive scallop fishing year in the state since 2001. (AP) link 11:18

Cape officials push for Sea Grant program’s survival

Judith McDowell and Bob Rheault were both drawn to Washington this week for the same reason: They wanted to salvage a threatened federal program that plays a key role in Cape Cod’s marine-dependent industries. McDowell, the director of the Woods Hole Sea Grant program, and Rheault, the executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, were hoping to save the national Sea Grant program from elimination. The Washington Post reported last week that the program’s $73 million budget is part of a proposed 18 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. McDowell said she couldn’t comment on a budget cut she said hadn’t been officially released but was leaked to news organizations. But Rheault, who was making the rounds of congressional offices this week, was highly critical of the proposal to scrap Sea Grant, calling it a “job killer.” His time in D.C. revealed there might be a chance the program, which President Lyndon Johnson created in 1966, could be saved, Rheault said. read the story here 10:41

Sunday Night: Rockporter joins sixth season of ‘Wicked Tuna’

The intense work of Gloucester’s now famed blue-fin fishermen will be showcased again when the international hit television show “Wicked Tuna,” kicks off its sixth season Sunday night on the National Geographic channel. Gloucester Capt. Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com once again won the competition last season, but just barely, with a total catch value of $104,785. Just $174 behind was Capt. Paul  Hebert, also of Gloucester, who at one time was part of Carraro’s crew. He now captains his own fishing vessel, the Wicked Pissah. “We won the last three of the five seasons, and this year we are going to have a bigger target on our back now more than ever before,” said Carraro of his crew. “We are the New England Patriots of the fleet.” The National Geographic series airs internationally in 171 countries and in 45 languages. continue reading the story here 09:21

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

Eddie Ritter, the last of the Provincetown dory fishermen, dies at 72

Eddie Ritter, the town’s iconic fisherman who was often painted and photographed rowing his orange dory through Provincetown Harbor, led the Flounder Flop at the Old Colony Tap and was a veteran of the Vietnam War, died of cancer at home on Saturday, March 4. He was 72 years old. Ritter was drafted into the Army and was part of a reconnaissance platoon until 1967. Two years after he got out, a friend told him about Provincetown. He came to town as a visitor for a few years, moving permanently in 1974 or 1975, after Joan Connors, the mother of their son, Sasha, moved to Provincetown. It was here that he found his sea legs through a friend who was working aboard the commercial vessel Cap’n Bill. Ritter was asked if he wanted to go scalloping. It was a life-altering trip — he was hooked. Though he was taken with fishing, he didn’t want to spend all his time on big commercial vessels. Ritter wanted to fish from a dory, a boat with a flat bottom, high sides and a sharp bow. Read this interesting story here, and lets celebrate the life of Eddie Ritter, P-Towns last dory man. 14:32

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

Man dies after pickup truck crashes into Cohasset Harbor

COHASSET – The body of a 39-year-old lobsterman was recovered after a dive team pulled a pickup truck out of Cohasset Harbor Wednesday morning, police said. Police and fire officials received a report of a vehicle that was in the water off a dock near Lighthouse Lane and Border Street shortly before 5 a.m. Police Chief William Quigley identified the driver of the gray GMC truck as Keith Herzog, 39, of Cohasset, said. Several family members, local fishermen and townspeople stood watching in a nearby parking lot. Some people were seen hugging one another and crying. The Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team was called to respond to help locate the truck, which was about 50 feet from the dock and as deep as 18 feet down. Sadly, the rest of the story here 19:06

The Codfather will Cop a Plea!!! – Rafael scheduled to plead guilty to evading fish quotas, smuggling money

“The Codfather”, Carlos Rafael, who the Department of Justice labeled as the owner of the largest commercial fishing business in New England, will plead guilty to federal charges as part of a settlement he reached with the government, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts said on Wednesday. Rafael, of Dartmouth, was scheduled to appear in federal court on March 20. Instead he’s scheduled to plead guilty to evading fishing quotas and smuggling profits to Portugal in U.S. District Court in Boston at 2 p.m. on March 16. The U.S. Attorney’s office provided no further details regarding the plea deal. Rafael’s attorney, William Kettlwell, did not return requests asking for comment. Read the rest here 17:06

Owner of largest commercial fishing business in New England, Carlos Seafood Inc., scheduled to plead guilty on evading fishing quotas for ‘bags of cash’ Click here to read this story 17:50

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

Out-of-state scallop boats threaten survival of Maine fishermen

After years of waiting for the northern Gulf of Maine scallop population to flourish, small-boat fishermen from Maine say federal mismanagement of scallop stocks in the area could result in larger boats wiping them out. Hancock fisherman James West said that larger boats, most of which are based out of state, should not be allowed unlimited catches when he is capped at harvesting only 200 pounds of meat a day. And he said he’s angry that the New England Fishery Management Council has known about the regulatory disparity for years and has done nothing to address it. “That’s what makes me so mad about it,” West said Sunday. “I’m shocked the council couldn’t figure out a way to fix this. We’re really getting the shaft.” Council officials say protecting the lucrative resource is a high priority that they plan to address in the coming year. But Maine fishermen say a year could be too late to ensure that federal scallop grounds in the gulf stay productive. continue reading the story here 07:36

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

2016 proves a record year for Maine’s fishing industry

Maine’s fishing industry topped $700 million in overall value in 2016, including a dockside value for the lobster fishery of $533 million. Both were records, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. DMR reported the $721 million total value represented a nearly $100 million increase over 2015. For the second straight year, the largest single increase in value was in Maine’s lobster fishery. The fishery saw the overall landed value jump by more than $30 million — from $501 million in 2015 to $533 million in 2016 — while the average per pound value remained over $4 for the second year in a row, at $4.07. When factoring in bonuses paid to harvesters as reported by 14 of Maine’s 19 lobster co-ops, the overall landed value of Maine’s lobster fishery reached $547.24 million, DMR reported. continue reading the story here 11:09

Lobstermen cheered! LePage removes lobster fee increase from proposed budget

Lobstermen cheered Saturday when Gov. Paul LePage announced at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum that he was pulling an increase in the lobster fishing license fee out of his proposed state budget. The extra money was going to be used to fund new lobster research, new technology for state fisheries researchers and raises for Maine Marine Patrol officers, among other things.,, Under the proposed fee increases, a lobsterman with two deckhands would have paid $114 more a year for his license, bringing the cost of securing a license to more than $1,000 for the first time. Read the story here 16:47

At the Maine Fishermen’s Forum: Lobstermen work with state on new penalties for violations

Enforcement of marine resource laws was the top concern when lobstermen met with state regulators March 3 at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum. Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and Col. Jon Cornish of the Maine Marine Patrol met with the Maine Lobstermen’s Association in a packed meeting room at the Samoset Resort to talk about the state’s efforts to improve enforcement of marine resource laws. “You guys don’t agree on much,” moderator Patrice McCarron of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association said, earning a laugh from the gathered fishermen. She said the common ground the fishermen had found was their concern about violations. “Lobstermen deserve to work on a level playing field,” she said, but violations make that field unfair, and there was concern the penalties have not been severe enough to deter illegal activity. Work had begun long before the forum with a survey of lobstermen in the association and throughout the fishing industry to see what their top priorities were in terms of enforcement. The results of that survey led to a bill going before the Maine Legislature to improve the state’s lobster laws. continue reading the story here 10:08

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Breaking the Records! Maine lobster landings set records in 2016

Maine fishermen landed more than 130 million pounds of lobster in 2016 valued at $533.1 million before paying out bonuses, the most ever landed at the highest value ever recorded. The value of the fishery jumped by more than $30 million since 2016 and made lobster the most valuable, and fastest growing industry, of all of the state’s commercial fisheries, which topped $700 million last year. After the state’s 19 lobster co-ops paid their bonus, the overall value of all Maine lobster reached $547.2 million, according to the state. “The historic landings reflect the hard work of our harvesters to build and sustain this fishery,” said Commissioner Patrick Keliher of Department of Marine Resources at the Annual Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport Friday. continue reading here and the story will be updated 11:59

St. George sternman admits to sinking rival’s lobster boat

A St. George man was sentenced Thursday, March 2 to 24 months in prison for sinking a competitor’s lobster boat last summer. Vincent Hilt, 22, pleaded guilty during a hearing in Knox County Unified Court to felony charges of aggravated criminal mischief and felony theft. Hilt is the second person convicted of the Sept.1 sinking of the 36-foot lobster boat Oracle owned by Joshua Hupper of St. George. In January, 21-year-old Devlin Meklin of Warren admitted to the same charges as Hilt and was sentenced to 24 months with all but three months suspended. The case against Hilt’s captain — Alan B. Norwood Jr., 47, of St. George — remains pending in court. Norwood has pleaded not guilty to aggravated criminal mischief for allegedly paying Hilt $500 to sink Hupper’s boat. continue reading the story here 10:54

Northern Shrimp lovers lining up for local catch

Joe Jurek knew his catch would be popular. He just didn’t know how popular. Jurek, a Gloucester-based groundfisherman who specializes in yellow-tail flounder on most fishing days, now holds the rarified position as the only Massachusetts fisherman allowed to fish for northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine. His tenure as shrimper-in-residence will last only two more weeks, much to the dismay of local northern shrimp lovers — including Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken — who literally have trooped down to the dock with buckets to try to buy the cold-water delicacies. The local shrimp have disappeared from seafood retail shops in the last four years the shrimp fishery has been closed. “Once people found out about it, it was like a bunch of seagulls,” said Romeo Theken, who along with a couple other dozen friends put in an order for about 230 pounds of the small, sweet shrimp. “Now people know the process, that they have to sign in at the auction and buy it through a seafood dealer.” Jurek said he’s averaging 350 to 400 pounds of the shrimp per fishing day, which he lands at the Cape Ann Seafood Exchange at an average off-the-boat price of about $6.50 a pound. continue reading the story here 07:28

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

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

Potential coral protection rules could have big impact on Downeast lobstermen

The New England Fishery Management Council has put rules to protect deep sea corals on the fast track, rules that will have a major impact on lobstermen — primarily from zones A and B with some from Zone C — who set their gear around Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge. The council is considering management measures to reduce impacts to corals from commercial fishing activities in three areas in the Gulf of Maine. One of the proposals would impose a total ban on fishing in the protected areas which, according to an analysis the Department of Marine Resources submitted to the council several months ago, are located in waters that produce about one-third of Maine’s lobster landings in terms of value. Now DMR is asking lobstermen who fish in the potentially closed areas for information that will help the department in its efforts to prevent the fishing bans. continue reading the article here 08:38

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