Category Archives: New England

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

The Maine Fishermen’s Forum on tap March 2-4 in Rockport

The 42nd annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum is coming up March 2-4 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. It will feature three days of commercial fishing industry seminars, a trade show, and socializing and networking opportunities. The forum will host fishermen, gear suppliers, scientists, government and other stakeholders to collaborate on all things fishing: markets, resource status, regulations, the latest in technology, the environment and more. Over 120 suppliers of commercial fishing equipment and services exhibit at the forum each year. Continue reading the story here, and visit the Maine Fishermen’s Forum website here 13:10

Maine lobstermen’s union votes to buy Hancock County lobster business

The Maine Lobstering Union voted Saturday to buy a wholesale lobster business near Mount Desert Island to help its fishermen net a bigger share of the profit in the booming, $1.5 billion-a-year industry. At a closed-door meeting in Rockport, members voted 63-1 to buy the wholesale side of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, which includes a tank that can hold up to 180,000 pounds of lobster, for $4 million, said Local 207 President Rocky Alley. “We can’t wait to start buying and selling our own lobsters,” Alley said. “Right now, fishermen sell at the dock, and we get what we get, with no control. But there is lots of money made off lobsters after they leave the dock, and some ought to stay with us fishermen.” The vote enables the Maine union to borrow money from a Kansas City bank and to borrow $1.1 million from fellow locals in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers as far south as Maryland to purchase the Lamoine-based wholesale business. continue reading the story here 21:36

Declining worm harvest poses challenge for diggers, scientists

It’s a dirty job, but digging for blood and sand worms along the Maine coast can pay well, particularly in areas of the state where it can be hard to make a living. Maine’s annual harvest of these popular bait worms, however, continues to decline, posing a quandary for marine biologists who cite climate change and predation as possible factors. Wormers, as they’re called, would like to work with marine biologists to ensure a healthy and robust industry.,, Washington County worm diggers have their own theories. “You have biologists that come around, and I’m not taking away from people who go to school, but very few of them say, ‘Well, what do you guys think?’” says Fred Johnson of Steuben, president of the Down East chapter of the Independent Maine Marine Worm Harvesters Association. “They don’t see the changes in that inner benthic zone that we’ve seen over the years,” Bayrd says. Read the story here 14:27

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

Coast Guard helps dewater, escort troubled fishing vessel off Cape Cod

The Coast Guard is escorting an 83-foot fishing vessel Friday after it started taking on water 50 miles east of Chatham. At about 11:30 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England watchstanders received a radio call from the crew of the Krystle James stating they had six people aboard and were taking on water, reportedly from a hole in the hull. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and Station Chatham launched their 42-foot Near Shore Lifeboat boat crew. The helicopter crew arrived on scene first and deployed a dewatering pump to the fishing crew. With the pump able to control the flooding, the aircrew stayed on scene until the 42-foot Near Shore Lifeboat boat crew arrived to escort Krystle James toward land. Coast Guard Cutter Tybee was diverted from an offshore patrol, relieved Station Chatham and is escorting the fishing crew safely to New Bedford. Video 08:04

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

Bad hull, flooding led to fatal sinking of Orin C

The deadly sinking of the Gloucester-ported Orin C nearly 15 months ago probably was caused by structural problems with the vessel’s wooden hull and subsequent flooding, according to reports from the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard released Thursday. The two reports detailed the marine tragedy that resulted in the drowning of 47-year-old Capt. David C. “Heavy D” Sutherland during the final stages of the Coast Guard’s rescue that saved crewmembers Rick Palmer and Travis Lane on the night of Dec. 3, 2015. Neither Palmer nor Lane could be reached Thursday for comment. The Coast Guard report did not recommend any changes to its training, rescue procedures or the equipping of its rescue vessels. That, however, does not mean it won’t make changes in the future, according to District 1 Deputy Commander Brad Kelly. “That is something the Coast Guard is always looking at in trying to determine what should be included into all of our rescue platforms,” Kelly said. “That is an ongoing process.” Continue reading the article here 21:01

A veteran commercial fisherman’s invite to fish for giants came along and I wasted no time in accepting.

Catching a giant bluefin with rod and reel has been on my bucket list for a long time. I grew up on the water and spent several summers as part of a crew that fished with handline or harpoon. My life’s path led me away from the ocean, and for years I’d wanted to go back and do it again with more sporting tackle. Decades passed without an opportunity and my desire was relegated to the back burner until a recent series of events rekindled the flame. Several more years passed as I tried unsuccessfully to mooch my way onto a boat until I eventually connected with fellow Mainer, Don Fletcher. A veteran commercial fisherman, Don switched over to tuna fishing after he acquired an Ocean Yachts 55 SS he named the Blue Bandit. When the invitation came to join him, I wasted no time in accepting. Continue reading the story here 16:52

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

PETA takes credit for Linda Beans exit from the lobster industry

A PETA investigation showed workers at Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster slaughterhouse ripping fully conscious crabs and lobsters apart. After CBS released the footage, it wasn’t long before social media influencers did the same thing to Linda Bean. Faced with the negative attention, canceled business contracts, PETA protests, and a barrage of nearly 76,000 e-mails from our members, Bean began quietly slipping out the back door of the lobster shanty, as reported by The Boston Globe. Read the rest here, and by all means, Order Your FREE Vegan Starter Kit! 11:00

Nantucket fishermen implore state to protect squid, DMF director balks!

For the past couple of years, Nantucket fishermen have had a hard time finding striped bass in the rips and alongshore where they were accustomed to catching them. They think they know why: no squid. “This was where all the bass were caught. Now, no bait, no fish, no stripers to speak of,” said Pete Kaizer, a charter boat captain and commercial tuna fisherman. Kaizer and other Nantucket fishermen petitioned the state Division of Marine Fisheries to prohibit fish draggers and scallopers that tow nets or large metal dredges along the ocean bottom from state waters, up to 3 miles out from shore all around the island. The ban would run from May 1 to Oct. 31 with the idea of protecting spawning longfin squid.,, The Nantucket fishermen have an online petition, signed by over 1,200 people, asking state DMF director David Pierce to enact the Nantucket fishing prohibition. Pierce said there was little science to back up the proposal, and said he opposed it and would not forward it to his state Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission for approval. Read the story here 07:40

Fisherman pleaded guilty to social security fraud receiving over $157,000 in SSDI benefits

United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Daniel Fitzsimmons, 54, of Whiting, Maine, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to social security fraud. According to court records, the defendant began receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) payments in 2002. SSDI benefits are paid by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) to people with disabilities. From 2002 to 2013, the defendant and his dependents received over $157,000 in SSDI benefits.  In order to obtain those benefits, the defendant was required to certify that he could no longer perform “substantial gainful work.”  In numerous forms submitted to the SSA and at an in-person SSA interview, the defendant reported little work activity and very low annual earnings between 2002 and 2013.  An investigation revealed that, contrary to his statements, the defendant was actively and consistently engaged in commercial fishing over that period. The defendant faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office. The case was investigated by SSA’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Coast Guard. Link 17:08

Athearn Marine Agency Boat of the Week: 55′ RI Marine Steel Offshore Lobster Boat with traps, permit

Specifications, information and 28 photo’s click here To see all the boats in this series, Click here 12:05

Port Clyde: Lobster, wind and recreation vie for waterfront property

Some residents have been raising questions about the well-situated, but empty and apparently unused, waterfront property on Port Clyde Harbor. The town has gradually begun to develop a concept for use of the property with help from a consultant, Noel Musson, of Southwest Harbor-based planning firm The Musson Group. The current vision-in-progress would split the property between a recreational portion for the public, and commercial space. Some of Port Clyde’s commercial fishermen, however, have their own ideas, and said they would at least like to have access to the property in a town where wharf space and the lobster-buying business have been consolidated into the hands of just a few owners. Continue reading the story here 14:05

Nantucket Sound location of most fatal turtle entanglements

By Aug. 1, Chatham fisherman Jamie Eldredge has pulled the 200 conch pots he has in Nantucket Sound. He has made the summer switch to fishing for dogfish in the Atlantic Ocean. In doing so, Eldredge has avoided what has become a major headache for conch fishermen – large leatherback turtles that get tangled up in conch and lobster lines while pursuing jellyfish. In NantuckeSound, a significant number of those turtles die, three times more than anywhere else in Massachusetts, and state fishery scientists are worried they may be targeted by a lawsuit charging they are not doing enough to protect an endangered species. In a series of public hearings held in coastal and island communities this month, they asked conch fishermen for input on how to deal with the problem. State Division of Marine Fisheries officials think they know the answer: pull all conch pots in August. Continue read the story here 10:35

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

Scallops scuffle pitting small boats against big

A disagreement over the right to fish for scallops off New England is pitting small boats against big ones in one of the most lucrative fisheries in the U.S. The federal government maintains different rules for the small- and big-boat scallop fisheries, though they work some of the same areas. Small boat fishermen say the conflict has arisen in the northern Gulf of Maine, a critically important fishing area stretching roughly from Boston to the border of Maine and Canada. At issue is the fact that the northern Gulf of Maine is fertile ground for scallops right now, and rules allow the bigger boats to harvest more of them. The smaller boats have a possession limit of 200 pounds, while the largest boats have no such limit, because they are regulated instead by a limited number of days at sea. Continue reading the article here 11:48

Linda Bean once hoped to be to lobster what Perdue is to chicken. What happened?

Linda Lorraine Bean, the other L.L. Bean, has spent the last decade promoting her lobster empire, one that merged the cachet of her family name with the popularity of the state’s top crustacean.,, So what happened to the sprawling business venture that Bean hoped to make as synonymous with lobster as Frank Perdue’s empire is to chicken? Bean, now in her 70s, declined to comment despite repeated attempts to reach her and those connected to her. It’s been a quiet departure for a woman not known to shy away from the spotlight. Read the article here 11:13

DMC researchers test technique to determine lobster’s age

Research professor Rick Wahle and graduate student Carl Huntsberger are testing a technique at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center to determine the age of lobsters. Unlike fish, mollusks and trees, Wahle says lobsters and other crustaceans molt—or cast off their skeletons thereby discarding external signs of growth. That means a lobster’s age is estimated on size, but it’s a rough determination because ocean conditions affect the crustacean’s growth rate. Not knowing a lobster’s age is problematic for scientists and fishery managers seeking to measure the health of the fishery and the sustainability of the stock. Continue reading the story here 10:06

Groundfish Monitoring: New England Council Seeks Initial Input on Amendment 23 at Six Scoping Hearings in March

The New England Fishery Management Council has scheduled a series of public scoping hearings from Maine to Connecticut to solicit ideas for potentially changing the region’s groundfish monitoring and reporting system.  The purpose of this initiative is to improve reliability and accountability of the monitoring program since successful management of the fishery depends on accurate and timely catch reporting.  The changes are being considered under Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan.  The Council is encouraging fishermen and other stakeholders to participate in this very early stage of the amendment development process. “The Council, fishermen, and the public recognize the groundfish monitoring program needs improvement,” said Council Executive Director Tom Nies. “This is the first and best opportunity for people to suggest ways to create a program that will give the accurate, reliable information needed to manage this fishery.” For locations, dates and times, click here 16:02

For fisheries regulations, a Trump edict signals uncertainty

New England fishermen and conservationists fear one of President Trump’s executive orders will have disruptive effects on fisheries management, although it will not affect routine seasonal fisheries regulation, as some had initially feared. The order prompted a fiery letter three days later from two prominent Democratic congressmen pointing out it could have “devastating impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and the businesses and communities they support.” “Effectively what it means is that nobody can do anything because agencies will have to stop doing major regulatory actions because you can’t comply with this order, which may be the point,” says a former top federal fisheries management official, Andrew Rosenberg, who is now director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Drew Minkiewicz, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing larger Eastern Seaboard scallop fishermen, says fishermen need not be concerned about most regulations. “This executive order has zero impact on 99.9 percent of the fishing regulations going out, so people who are wondering if the fishing season will be delayed don’t need to,” he says. “It’s much ado about nothing.” Read the article here 08:39

Maine lobstermen oppose increase in cost of commercial fishing licenses

A proposal to increase the cost of commercial fishing licenses to fund scientific research in a lean budget year is drawing fire from Maine lobstermen. Julie Eaton, a 30-year lobster boat captain from Deer Isle, told a legislative panel at the State House on Friday that a 30 percent increase in lobster license fees would be too much on top of all the other costs of doing business, ranging from $125 to replace lost traps to $185 for monthly oil changes to bait bills that have doubled in the last year alone. The Maine Department of Marine Resources is seeking to increase lobster license fees about 30 percent, which would generate roughly $600,000 in new revenues. That money would be used to expand state lobster research and protect other department units, like the Maine Marine Patrol, despite budget cuts ordered by Gov. Paul LePage to offset the anticipated effect of a new minimum wage law and state school spending initiative. Continue reading the article here 09:24

Vineyard Power vying for offshore wind farm

This June, the state will solicit bids seeking offshore wind farms to produce 400 megawatts of electricity. It’s the first of four phases of what state officials hope will be 1,600 megawatts of offshore power; 15 percent of what the state uses annually, enough power to replace what will eventually be lost when Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station shuts down. Submitting a bid in June will be the first tangible step for a group of Martha’s Vineyard residents who started the Vineyard Power energy cooperative six years ago in response to a lot of the things they didn’t like about the now defunct Cape Wind project. It has 1,400 members and claims the cooperative represents 5,000 people on the island. Richard Andre, president of Vineyard Power, said their prospects improved dramatically when Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation in August that required that power utilities solicit and contract for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power as part of their energy portfolio by 2027. Continue reading here 18:07

A Big Decline of River Herring – Tiny stones in fish hold clues to help restore populations

Many New Englanders still recall the vast springtime runs of river herring. Millions of the small silvery fish swam up coastal freshwater streams, returning from the sea to spawn. Two species of river herring, alewives and blueback herring, are critical components of marine food webs, right up to the fishermen on shore and at sea who harvest them. But in the late 1960s, herring populations sharply declined to as little as one percent of their historic size. Ever more-efficient commercial fishing fleets have swept them up in coastal waters. But even after states banned or limited catches, the fish have not rebounded. To expand access to historical spawning habitats, some communities have also begun removing dams. In 2014, Joel Llopiz launched a project, funded by Woods Hole Sea Grant, with colleagues at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The researchers are collecting and examining larval herring in four coastal river/pond systems of different sizes in Massachusetts. The systems also vary in their impacts from pollution, urban development, and agriculture. Continue reading here with more images 15:42

Update – Sweden’s Request to Ban American Lobster in the EU Risks Violating the Rules of the WTO

In July 2016, we reported that the Swedish Government had requested that the European Union impose a ban on imports of U.S./Canadian live lobster (Homarus americanus). Sweden argues that Homarus americanus should be designated an “alien invasive species” under EU law because it is not native to the EU, it poses serious risks to European lobsters through the spreading of disease, and because once the American lobster is established, it will be impossible to eradicate. An expert group of the European Commission’s Directorate of Environment, the Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species, has assessed Sweden’s request in terms of the sufficiency of the scientific evidence presented. In September 2016, it confirmed the validity of the risk assessment and found there was enough evidence to move forward with a full scientific review of Sweden’s request. This broader review of the request to ban live American lobster in the EU is expected to be completed by spring 2017, at the earliest. If that review approves the request, the motion would go to the full European Commission for a final vote. Continue reading the article here 10:25

Another Look at Chris Crisman’s Women’s Work. This Time With Motion – Sadie Samuels

In our digital device controlled lives you only have seconds to grab eyeballs and it’s all about how many hits, hearts, likes, or friends you receive. So how do you tell a compelling human-interest story, a filmic portrait if you will, in two minutes or less? Chris Crisman knew that Sadie Samuels had a compelling story. He’d learned of her through a newspaper article and was intrigued by her personality and career choice. Accompanying the 23-year-old Maine lobster fisher, Crisman, his assistant and a director of photography set out for a day on the water. “The drone shot was a nice bonus. Ezra Migel, the DP who partnered with us, is a talented drone operator. Watch the video, and Read the story here 21:01

Coast Guard rescues three fisherman from vessel taking on water near Akutan, Alaska

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew rescued three people from the fishing vessel Predator after it ran aground and was taking on water near Akutan Harbor, Alaska, Monday morning.The Jayhawk crew arrived on scene, hoisted the three crewmembers and safely transported them to Akutan with no medical concerns reported. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders were notified by Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders that the Predator ran hard aground resulting in an eight-inch crack in the hull. As a result, the Predator began taking on water and the crew was unable to keep up with the flooding utilizing dewatering pumps. Watchstanders quickly diverted a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew to the scene. “This case is a perfect example of the ever-changing dynamic of search and rescue in Alaska and how well trained our personnel are to respond,” said Lt. Scott Verhage, Jayhawk helicopter co-pilot. “The crew of the Predator was well prepared, having all the safety equipment necessary to help us find them and execute the rescue.” Weather on scene at the time of the rescue was 25 mile per hour winds and 10-foot seas. -USCG- 19:54

Petition: All Against Changes to Current Nantucket Sound Mobile Gear Regulations

This petition has been created to bring awareness to the state of Massachusetts from the people who would like regulations of Nantucket Sound mobile gear to remain at their current status. The town of Nantucket is currently petitioning the right to fish inside of three nautical miles from the coast with mobile gear. This will greatly impact the permit holders, long standing fishermen, and their families who have fished these waters for decades. There is no environmental proof that this closure will have any impact at all. The squid fishery is an ecofriendly industry that supports many fishermen, families, and shore side operations and should remain this way. Throughout the years, Massachusetts has continuously managed mobile gear within Nantucket sound successfully and drastic changes to its regulations will have a detrimental impact on the Fishing Community. Please sign the petition! Click here 17:04

Vineyard Fishermen Warn of Ruin If Conch Rule Enacted

Martha’s Vineyard commercial fishermen spent more than two and a half hours Wednesday letting the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries know what they think of 18 proposed rule updates and new regulations. Some of the changes are minor tweaks to clarify existing rules, but others, if enacted, would affect the Vineyard’s fishing industry more significantly. Island speakers vehemently opposed a draft proposal to increase the minimum size of knobbed and channeled whelk, generally called conch, by three sixteenths of an inch in 2017. “That is a horrifying number,” said Tom Turner, a longtime Edgartown fisherman. “You’re guaranteeing the death of a fishery, and that would happen within two years of a three-sixteenth increase.” Continue reading the story here 15:16

Lawsuit over fisheries observers to reach Court of Appeals in March

A New England fishermen’s group suing the federal government over the cost of at-sea monitoring is scheduled to present oral arguments before the federal Court of Appeals in March. The government shifted the cost of paying for monitors to fishermen last year. A group led by New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel sued the government over the rule change. The fishermen lost in federal district court and appealed. Attorneys say the arguments are set to take place March 7. Monitors can cost hundreds of dollars per day. Fishermen argue it represents an illegal new cost burden they can’t shoulder in an era of tight quotas. The rules apply to fishermen of species such as cod and sole. link 11:16

Massachusetts fisheries officials: Loophole in striped bass fishery needs closing

Massachusetts fisheries officials want to to close a loophole in state regulations that resulted in what they believe were illegal landings of striped bass last year. At a public hearing at Massachusetts Maritime Academy Wednesday night, Division of Marine Fisheries Deputy Director Dan McKiernan said the state is looking to reduce the number of striped bass that commercial fishermen could land from 15 down to two, if they’re fishing from shore. “What happened last year was disgusting,” said Patrick Paquette of the Massachusetts Striped Bass Association, which is composed of both commercial and recreational fishermen. “There was a rampant black market at the (Cape Cod) canal. Plenty of guys were taking fish from friends, putting them in coolers, and selling them under their boat permit.” Under state striped bass fishing regulations, a commercial fisherman can buy a boat permit that allows him or her to catch and sell up to 15 fish a day. There is also a less expensive individual permit under which he or she can land two fish a day from shore. The state limited commercial fishing to two days a week. In bad weather, some fishermen with boat permits fished from shore, and could technically land their 15 fish. Read the story here 09:37

This Fisherman Is Battling the Government to Save His Livelihood

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Mass DMF gets an earful from conch fishermen, David Pierce mentions squid trawling

Officials from the Division of Marine Fisheries on their annual rounds to inform fishermen of proposed regulations for 2017 held a public hearing at the Katharine Cornell Theater in Tisbury on Wednesday morning. A lengthy agenda cast a wide net on changes in proposed limits to finfish and shellfish, but the most spirited debate by far was over a proposed increase to the minimum size of channel whelk and knob whelk, often referred to as “conch,” for this year. DMF director David Pierce and deputy director Dan McKiernan moderated the discussion. Local fishermen portended dire economic circumstances if the current minimum size, measured at the shell’s widest point, is increased from 3 inches to 3 3⁄16 inches. DMF officials countered that without the increase, the future of the conch fishery, the most valuable fishery on Martha’s Vineyard, will be in serious jeopardy in a matter of years. Prior to the start of the public hearing, DMF director David Pierce said that while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard last year, he picked up a copy of The MV Times and read the Sept. 7 story, “Squid trawlers leave a wake of death south of Martha’s Vineyard” that described the miles of dead by-catch — mostly squid and scup — left behind by squid trawlers operating just outside the three-mile state limit south of Martha’s Vineyard. Read the story here 17:04

Maine lawmaker proposes ban on wind turbines near Monhegan

Sen. Dana Dow, R-Damariscotta, wants to prohibit a wind energy test area within 10 miles of the island’s lobster conservation area. The current site is roughly 2 1/2 miles off the island. Through the Senate Republican Office, Dow issued a statement saying the project would threaten migrating birds as well as the remote, rugged beauty that draws artists and tourists. He said Mainers wouldn’t allow such a project near Mount Katahdin or Acadia National Park, which, like Monhegan, are special places. Dow’s bill reflects similar positions voiced by a group of year-round and seasonal residents and their supporters called Protect Monhegan. Other residents, however, say they support the project, but want to negotiate the best deal for the community. Read the story here 11:29

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

Proposed Maine Elver Eel Lottery Would Keep Industry Viable

A proposal to create a new lottery system to allow people into Maine’s big-money baby eel fishery is the best way to keep the industry sustainable, some fishermen say. Baby eels are a prized resource in Maine, where they are fished from rivers and streams and sold to Asian aquaculture companies in countries such as China and South Korea. The baby eels, or elvers, can sell for more than $2,000 per pound. The eels eventually get raised to adulthood and turned into food, such as sushi, with some spanning the globe to come back to American restaurants. Right now, entry into the fishery is closed. A Maine trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law that would allot new elver fishing permits via a lottery. The group’s president, Darrell Young, said members of the fishery are aging and the lottery system will let new people in. “We’re all getting older and eventually we’re going to pass away,” Young said. “As people die off or give up or whatever, there will be a drawing.” Read the story here 14:36

Athearn Marine Agency Boat of the Week: 38′ Dixon Lobster/Gillnetter, 375HP, 6 Cylinder John Deere

Specifications, information and 27 photo’s  click here To see all the boats in this series, Click here 12:36

To Mass. DMF Director Dave Pierce Phd., Loligo Fishing Nantucket & Marthas Vinveyard

I have been a consistent reader of John McMurray’s contribution to conservefish.org. I have valued his writings due to his activity on the water and his due diligence in obtaining all the facts. With that stated I believe he has overstepped his expertise in his most recent article In Marthas Vineyard & Nantucket, There Ain’t No Stripas. As a writer and council member McMurray has substantial amount of input when it comes to policy changes within the fisheries regulatory arena. Upon reading this piece, I was inspired to write a rebuttal article with the goal of enlightenment and advocacy for the commercial Loligo industry. As a fourth generation commercial fisherman from Point Judith, Rhode Island I have generational knowledge of Doryteuthis pealaeii otherwise known as Loligo, Summer Squid, Longfin Squid and my personal favorite name, Rhode Island’s official appetizer Calamari. Read the rebuttal here by Spencer Bode 14:23

Judge hears evidence against the licensed yacht captain that allegedly killed commercial rod and reel fisherman Walter Krupinski

During a six-hour trial at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal Monday, witnesses and investigators recounted the September 2015 fatal boat collision between a 60-foot yacht and a 23-foot outboard, killing the operator of the smaller boat. Cooper Bacon, 76, of New Jersey, was piloting the yacht between boat shows in Rhode Island and Connecticut. He is a licensed captain. Walter Krupinski, 81, a commercial rod and reel fisherman from Stonington, owned the 23-foot Steiger center console and was fishing off Watch Hill Reef on Sept. 22, 2015, when the collision occurred. Bacon pleaded not guilty in May to charges by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement for three violations of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules. He asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and did not answer any questions from the plaintiff’s attorney Monday. Read the story here 10:42

Maine Lobstermans integrity is upheld in court when cleared of unlicensed fishing charge

Every once in a while, a case comes along that serves as a reminder that Maine courts, like the state’s many law enforcement agencies, are a part of what is loosely called the justice system and that most of the people who work in the courts and law enforcement agencies want to see justice done. Last week, Trenton lobsterman Jacob White found himself before Superior Court Justice Robert E. Murray facing a civil violation of the state’s marine resources laws for fishing without a lobster license last October. Also before the court was the state’s seizure of 156 pounds of lobster White landed at the Seal Cove wharf on the day Marine Patrol Officer Jeff Turcotte issued the summons for unlicensed lobstering. White decided to fight the case and, perhaps a surprise, he won. “I take pride in being a good fisherman and an honest fisherman,” White told the judge. Murray evidently agreed,,, Read the story here 17:59

Always Top Quality! Your Seafreeze Ltd. Preferred Price List for February 6, 2017 Has Arrived

Contact our sales team today @ 401 295 2585 or 800 732 273 Click here for the complete price list from Seafreeze Ltd. – We are Direct to the Source-We are Fishermen-We are Seafreeze Ltd!  Visit our website! 12:10

Fishery Mismanagement: FishNet USA – Choking on good(?) intentions

From the article: We have fisheries that are on the verge of collapse while the fish stocks that support them are healthy. There is a wanton disregard for the health of the businesses that depend of fishing, a disregard that wasn’t really there until the environmental community, funded by a handful of “charitable” mega-foundations (including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), started to interfere in the federal fishery management process. Having healthy fish stocks, their supposed goal, is meaningless without healthy businesses benefitting from the utilization of those stocks. Today the economic effects of management actions on fishing and fishing dependent businesses are at best given lip service; the only thing that really matters when management decisions are considered is whether or not “overfishing” will be ended. The argument for the almost total focus on the health of the stocks, a concept that is exemplified by the above four sources of uncertainty from a study that was paid for – surprise, surprise! – by one of the mega-foundation that has spent many millions of dollars on “fixing” fisheries, is that healthy fish stocks are supposed to mean healthy fisheries. The present condition of the New England groundfish fishery shows how wrong that supposition is. Read the full article, click here 11:41

Blizzard of ’78 foiled a rescue at sea in little-known tale

On the night of Feb. 6, 1978, more than a few afternoon commuters were still stuck in their cars in Providence in the midst of the strongest blizzard to hit the Northeast in 150 years. And just off the New England coast, mountainous waves, produced by the same storm system, crested at heights of 40 feet. Winds blowing off those waves hit speeds of 115 miles per hour. The stage was set for a high-seas drama that wouldn’t rate much attention in the next day’s editions of The Providence Journal and The Boston Globe, according to Massachusetts native Michael Tougias, an author who was to speak at the Providence Boat Show on Sunday, close to Monday’s anniversary of the great blizzard. Tougias’ story, based on his own book, offers an oceanic perspective on the great blizzard. He constructed it with dramatic dialogue from 10 hours of taped marine radio communications. Not long after then-Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island, a pilot boat left its berth in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on a mission to help a Coast Guard vessel that had lost its way in the roiling seas near the entrance to Salem Sound. The pilot boat, named the Can Do, set out to accomplish an impossible task. Read the story here 08:44

Remembering the pilot boat ‘Can Do’  – from February 7, 2013 Click here

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

Newburyport, Massachusetts – Family, friends recall crew of Lucky Lady, 10 years later

Friends and family members took part in a Mass last weekend to honor the memory of the two young men who died in the sinking of the dragger Lucky Lady 10 years ago today. Capt. Sean Cone, 24, a North Andover native, and crewman Dan Miller, 21, of North Hampton, N.H., were lost when their 52-foot vessel capsized and sank rapidly about 30 miles southeast of Portland, Maine, while returning to Newburyport, according to a Coast Guard investigation. A Mass was held on Saturday at St. Michael’s in North Andover, attended by Cone’s mother Leslie Arnold Cone, who flew up from Florida, according to the Remember Sean Cone Facebook page. The Coast Guard report was issued about a year after the sinking, concluding that it happened so quickly, neither man had time to access lifesaving equipment. Read the story here 10:27

Southern New England Lobstermen question need for restrictions to help species

Some lobster fishermen expressed skepticism Tuesday about a plan to try to revive the dwindling southern New England lobster stock through . Lobster fishing in the U.S. is experiencing a boom that has lasted several years, and prices have also been high. But the population of the species has diminished in the waters off southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Long Island, New York, where it was once plentiful. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering a host of options to try to rejuvenate the region’s lobster stock, which scientists have said is falling victim to rising ocean temperatures. An arm of the commission voted Tuesday to send the options out for public comment. Read the story here 08:31

A Maine lobsterman brings up a serious issue. What to do with expired marine distress flares

After a lobsterman called her attention to unsafe and environmentally hazardous practices, a state representative is proposing a formal system for disposal of expired marine distress flares. It began with a simple question this past summer from Bob Perry, a Bailey Island lobsterman who was telling his sister over coffee one morning that he was not sure where he could dispose of old flares. The flares, which expire after 42 months, employ pyrotechnic chemicals and are classified as hazardous waste that cannot be buried in a landfill. “I was telling her, ‘I’ve got these flares, and I’ve got no idea what to do with them,’” Perry said last week. With the exception of smaller boats and specific recreational uses, existing law mandates that large vessels must be equipped with visual distress signals, most of which use pyrotechnic chemicals to emit a bright emergency flare, according to the Boater’s Guide to Maine Laws and Responsibilities. “I can’t be the only one on the coast of Maine that doesn’t know how to get rid of them,” he said. Read the story here 17:10

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

When the water turns wicked

When it comes to being on the ocean – whether you’re a commercial fisherman out there making a living, a sport fisherman on the briny blue for a day of rod-and-reel action, or a diehard powerboat cruiser – there is always one factor that plays a crucial role in everything you do: the weather. We asked four well-known and seasoned professional captains how they plan for and handle heavy weather when at sea. All four are showcased on National Geographic Channel’s hit television show, “Wicked Tuna,” and each is a top-notch giant bluefin tuna fisherman and consummate seaman. Here’s what they have to say about managing their vessels in the often-nasty conditions of the North Atlantic Ocean. And here are their respective preferred tactics and strategies, stored in their memory banks after years of sea time in their rugged little tuna boats. Read this article by Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth click here 10:13

Tim Rider’s small-scale commercial operation – the only full-time one in New England pulling in groundfish by rod and reel

Chef Benjamin Hasty, owner of Thistle Pig in South Berwick, was having a beer with a co-worker at 7th Settlement, a brewpub in Dover, New Hampshire, when he saw Tim Rider walk by, carrying fresh fish to the pub’s kitchen. “We kept seeing someone schlepping these big totes of fish going by us,” Hasty recalled. “I said, ‘I need to introduce myself because I need to get some of that.’ ” Hasty invited Rider, owner of New England Fishmongers, to join him for a cup of coffee. Rider told him he is one of the few New England commercial fishermen who still catches groundfish the old-fashioned way, with a rod and reel; experts believe he is the only one in Maine, and perhaps all of New England, who is doing so full time. Click to see 21 great images  Read the story here 07:49

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

Warren Maine man admits to helping sink lobster boat

A 21-year-old Warren man was sentenced Thursday, Jan. 26, to three months in jail for his role in the sinking of a lobster boat off St. George last summer. Devin Meklin pleaded guilty in Knox County Unified Court to aggravated criminal mischief and theft in connection to the Sept. 1 sinking of the 36-foot lobster boat Oracle owned by Joshua Hupper of St. George. Meklin was one of three people charged in the case. According to investigators, 47-year-old Alan B. Norwood Jr., a St. George lobsterman, paid his sternman, Vincent Hilt, 22, of Vinalhaven, $500 to sink Hupper’s boat. Norwood and Hilt have both pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. Norwood is charged with felony aggravated criminal mischief. Hilt is charged with felony criminal mischief and theft. Read the story here 15:52

Shad: Following the history and biology of a East Coast transplant

Shad were one of the largest commercial fisheries in the East during the 19th century, but overharvesting and heavy pollution prior to the environmental enlightenment of the 1970s saw the population drop faster than heavy shad dart in a slow current. Commercial harvests on the East Coast declined from nearly 20 million pounds in the 1870s to less than 2 million a hundred years later. In 1871, forward-thinking individuals at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service decided to transport shad from New York’s Hudson River to the Sacramento River in California’s Central Valley. The reasoning for this move was, in part, to add commercial and sport fisheries, as well as add another plentiful food source to the quickly swelling population of a post-Gold Rush California. Read the story here 08:41

Value of Maine lobster exports to China on pace to triple for 2016

Live lobster exports to China are on pace to triple in value in 2016, despite the incursion of some new lobster suppliers to the growing Asian market. Final figures for 2016 won’t be known until February, but through November, the value of live lobster shipments from Maine to China climbed to $27.5 million, nearly tripling from the $10.2 million reported in November 2015. That’s roughly half the total export of live lobsters from Maine to date, excluding Canada, where many Maine lobsters are processed and then imported back into Maine for distribution. And those figures don’t include the traditional year-end surge leading up the Chinese New Year on Jan. 28, when Chinese celebrants have been serving up lobster from Maine, Massachusetts and Canada in ever-increasing numbers. Read the story here 08:17

On this day in 2007, The Search begins for Lady of Grace

On this day in 2007, the Coast Guard launched a massive search for the Fishing Vessel Lady of Grace after the 75-foot dragger failed to return as scheduled to New Bedford. The four-man crew of the boat was last heard from the night before, struggling to cross Nantucket Sound in a winter gale with 6- to 9-foot seas buffeting the Sound. Using side scan sonar, Coast Guard personnel located the sunken vessel 12 miles south of Hyannis one day after the search began. The bodies of Lady of Grace captain Antonio Barroqueiro and crew member Mario Farinhas were recovered, but two other crew members,  Rogerio Ventura and Joao Silva – were never found. Read the stories about this tragedy starting with previous problem with the boat click here 11:39 May they all Rest in Peace.

ITS HUGE! Grey Sole limits nearly doubled as scientists use ’empirical approach’ to set new specifications

Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the New England Fishery Management Council approved an acceptable biological catch of 878 metric tons of witch flounder, also known as grey sole, for 2017. When adjusted for management uncertainty, the move will result in a 2017 annual catch limit of 839 metric tons — nearly twice the 2016 annual catch limit of 441 metric tons. The unanimous vote by the council also underscored the escalating distrust commercial groundfishermen reserve for the science NOAA Fisheries uses to fuel its stock assessments. In December, NOAA Fisheries scientists were forced to concede that the model being used to develop the witch flounder stock assessment was irretrievably flawed after it failed the peer review phase of the process. Read the story here 07:51

New SMAST camera can help assess cod stocks in Gulf of Maine

Researchers from UMass Dartmouth say they have successfully tested an underwater video-survey system that they hope will provide an accurate method to assess Atlantic cod stocks. In collaboration with fishermen, the research team recently placed high-resolution cameras in an open-ended commercial trawl net on Stellwagen Bank in the Gulf of Maine, known as one of the world’s most active marine sanctuaries. The cameras captured images of cod and other groundfish as they passed through the net. Periodically, researchers from UMD’s School for Marine Science & Technology closed the net for short periods to collect length, weight, and take other biological samples from some of the fish. The fish are unharmed and are returned to the sea. The system is design to be portable, so scientists can set it up on different fishing vessels. Professor Kevin Stokesbury, head researcher on the project, said the video system is an important tool at a time of uncertainty about the groundfish stock in the Gulf of Maine. Read the story here 17:57  Read the press release and watch the video here

Large Whale Seasonal Trap Gear Closure is Effective February 1 – April 30

This advisory serves as a reminder to recreational and commercial trap fishermen. The annual large whale seasonal trap gear closure is in effect from February 1st through April 30th.  During this period all trap gear must be removed from the . This area encompasses waters of Cape Cod Bay, Stellwagen Bank and the Eastern Cape Cod. A description of the closed area and its coordinates are in the adjacent map and full regulatory text is located at 322 CMR 12.04 and 12.11. This closure was implemented in 2015 under the federal Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan and subsequently codified in state regulations. Its purpose is to reduce the risk of endangered North Atlantic right whales becoming entangled in trap gear buoy lines while migrating through and aggregating in this important seasonal feeding area. For more information regarding the Large Whale Seasonal Trap Gear Closure and the North Atlantic right whale, please visit our website: www.mass.gov/marinefisheries  13:47