Category Archives: New England

New Bedford: Industry on the Brink

Two computer screens lit Richie Canastra’s windowless office.  The co-owner of BASE (Buyers and Sellers Seafood Exchange) seafood auction scrolled through scores of financial data associated with commercial fishing landings at 62 Hassey St. The numbers that starred back since NOAA implemented a groundfishing ban last November tell a dark story in an industry already struggling to survive. “With the ban, if we’re not up and fishing by May 1, you might as well just call (groundfishing in New Bedford) over,” Canastra said. >click to read<22:52

Harvest of clams continues to dwindle in New England

The clam fishery is coping with a declining number of fishermen, a warming ocean, harmful algal blooms in the marine environment and growing populations of predator species, said regulators and scientists who study the fishery. It leaves clammers like Chad Coffin, of Freeport, Maine, concerned the harvest will decline to the point it will be difficult to make a living. “It has been a gradual decline, and it’s getting to the point where there’s a tremendous amount of acreage that’s not producing anymore,” Coffin said. “It should drop significantly more over the next two years.” >click to read<18:38

Zinke acknowledges opposition to oil, Feds seek offshore wind off NY/ NJ, 2 areas off Mass available

The federal agency in charge of leasing land for alternative energy in the ocean is looking for companies interested in building wind turbines in shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast. >click to read< The Department of the Interior has announced that two additional areas located off Massachusetts are now available for commercial wind energy development. >click to read< On the same day his agency announced two additional areas located off Massachusetts are now available for commercial wind energy development, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke  acknowledged there is “a lot of opposition” to President Donald Trump’s plan to open  most of the nation’s coastline to oil and gas drilling. >click to read<20:03

BP rig on Route to Offshore drill Nova Scotia: Are we the next Gulf Coast Disaster?

Nova Scotians are expressing alarm at news that BP commissioned rig West Aquarius is now en route to drill offshore, despite not having final approval from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB). “This is the height of regulatory capture,” says John Davis, Director of Clean Ocean Action Committee. “It is costing BP $260,000 a day to move this rig, why would they do that unless they are sure the Board is ready to give the green light.” “Our economic livelihood is completely wrapped up in fishing. Any danger to that is not worth the risk,” says David Levy, Deputy Warden of the Municipality of the District of Shelburne. >click to read<17:022

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P.E.I. Lobster fishery reduces floating rope in hopes of protecting North Atlantic right whales

Lobster fishers on P.E.I. are taking new measures this season to help protect the endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement. In January, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced changes to the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect the right whales, including reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface and mandatory reporting of all lost gear. Fishermen are also required to report any sightings of the endangered whales. >click to read<13:46

John Bullard’s Right whale challenge angers lobstermen

Bullard may have left behind the daily responsibilities of running the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, but he took his bully pulpit with him. On Monday, he published an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe challenging the U.S. commercial lobster industry — predominately based in Maine and Massachusetts, where Gloucester and Rockport are the top ports — to take the lead in trying to head off the extinction of the North Atlantic right whales. While he also carved out a role for scientists, non-governmental organizations and fishery managers in the hunt for solutions, Bullard’s emphasis on the lobster industry did not sit well with local lobstermen, who believed their industry was being singled out. >click to read<19:02

Black sea bass quota reduction for N.Y. has local lawmakers up in arms

The decision last month by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to reduce New York’s black sea bass quota by 12 percent this year has anglers, state environmental regulators and local lawmakers up in arms. “This action discriminates against the State of New York. It would have a significant adverse effect on the Long Island economy,” State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said yesterday in a joint statement.  New York has joined Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut in an appeal,,, >click to read<09:12

Word of Gloucester Seafood Processing reopening catches city leaders by surprise!

The comments last week by the founder of the Mazzetta Company that the seafood processor will resume processing fresh fish at its largely dormant Gloucester Seafood Processing plant caught many by surprise — including city officials. Tom Mazzetta, the chief executive officer of the Illinois-based seafood conglomerate that bears his family’s name, told a respected fishing website that the Gloucester Seafood Processing plant in the Blackburn Industrial Park will resume operations before the year is out. >click to read<23:15

John Bullard: Lobster industry must lead on right whales

A NUMBER OF EVENTS over the past two weeks have probably gotten the full attention of the US lobster industry and increased pressure for it to take the lead in fighting the potential extinction of the North Atlantic right whale.  In response to the deaths of the endangered whale, including 12 in Canada last year, Canada has imposed new restrictions on ship speeds and snow crab fishing, as well as earmarked $1 million more annually to help free marine mammals from fishing gear. >click to read<12:03

Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018 – bill nets solutions for overfishing

A new bipartisan bill introduced in U.S. Congress this month encourages a science-based approach to significantly reduce the overfishing and unsustainable trade of sharks, rays and skates around the world and prevent shark finning. The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Daniel Webster, R-FL, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, along with co-sponsors Rep. Bill Posey, R-FL, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-MO, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC., >click to read<09:39

Proposed Magnuson Stevens changes are reasonable – Support HR-200

“Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill” Macbeth,Act III, Scene II I am wondering how much commercial fishermen know about acting? At a guess I’d say probably as much, or as little, as most actors know about commercial fishing, even award winning ones. This thought arose following the recent appearance in these pages of an opinion piece>click to read Rep Keating, defend the Magnuson Act< on fishery management by a member of the acting profession in an attempt to wield political influence. The thespian in question is also an Ocean board member, a well funded environmental group antithetical to America’s oldest industry. By Don Cuddy, >click to read< 19:35

Elver prices soar to new heights amid shortage, Asian demand, state expects a strong year.

The price of baby eels in Maine is soaring to record highs at the start of a season in which buyers expect to pay more for the valuable fish.,, Fishermen in Maine, which has the only significant elver fishery in the U.S., are poised for high prices this year because of a poor harvest in Asia. The early part of Maine’s season has been held back somewhat by bad weather, but harvesters are looking forward to a good year, said Darrell Young, co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen Association. >click to read< 09:55

CoA Institute Lawsuit Prompts Archivist to Examine Potential Record Destruction at NOAA

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) filed a lawsuit last summer against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) seeking copies of electronic records created through the agency’s Google-based email platform. These types of records are commonly known as “instant messages.” The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests at issue (available here and here) also sought formal agency guidance on the retention of “Google Chat” or “Google Hangouts” messages. We had already learned, through earlier investigation, that at least one internal NOAA handbook, dating from March 2012, instructed agency employees to treat all chat messages as “off the record,” raising concerns about potential unlawful record destruction at NOAA. >click to read< 15:22

Sector IX vessels make a move to lease quota

Fifty-five vessels have left Sector IX, but they still can’t fish.  However, they can lease their groundfish quota. The 55, including four Carlos Rafael vessels subject to forfeiture, were submitted to be included in Sector VII for the 2018-19 fishing season, according to NOAA Sector VII. The move comes after six months of negotiations with NOAA in trying to get an operational plan approved, which would have lifted the groundfishing ban. >click to read<09:17

“Dead in the Water” – Documentary on Plight of N.E. Ground Fishermen to be Screened in 4 Maine Towns

Maine residents will have an opportunity soon to witness the devastating impacts of federal regulations on the lives of New England ground fishermen, as seen through the eyes of a documentary filmmaker with a long record of acclaimed work. David Wittkower’s “Dead in the Water” will be shown at four Maine community theaters in April.  It will be shown in Kittery, Waterville, Boothbay Harbor. and in Belfast. The 7 p.m. screenings will be followed by a question period and panel discussion featuring local, New England commercial fishermen and the film makers. For location information, >click to read<18:31

NOAA/NMFS to foot at-sea monitoring costs – Thank You Senator Shaheen!

Timing may not be everything but it sure counts for a lot. Just ask New Hampshire groundfisherman David Goethel. Goethel, who had persevered through cascading years of escalating regulation, slashed fishing quotas, a failed lawsuit and, more recently, the prospect of paying the full cost of at-sea monitoring, was ready to get out of commercial groundfishing. “I had planned to sell my boat this summer,” Goethel said Wednesday, referring to his 44-foot, Hampton, New Hampshire-ported Ellen Diane. “I was done.”  Last week, following a full year of working behind the scenes with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Goethel got the news he and other groundfishermen wanted to hear: >click to read<08:24

Speed limits, snow crab season changes coming to help save the whales

Ottawa is changing the dates of Canada’s snow crab season and establishing a permanent speed limit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in hopes of protecting the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.,, LeBlanc’s department is adjusting the dates of the snow crab season so it starts and ends earlier. The snow crab fishery will start as soon as possible, with the help of icebreakers and a hovercraft. The southern part of the Gulf, where most of the right whales were spotted last year, will be closed to fishing after April 28. >click to read<13:55

New Research Shows ‘Strong Correlation’ Between Baby Lobster Decline, Possible Food Source

New science is bearing down on a poorly understood part of the North American lobster’s diet. And it turns out that a tiny crustacean’s abundance may help to explain expected declines in Maine’s lobster harvest. The Gulf of Maine brims with hundreds of varieties of transparent crustaceans known as copepods.,, Recently Record has put himself at the computational nexus of a handful of data sets that track a particular copepod in the Gulf of Maine, called Calanus finmarchicus.  The clues to this connection can be found in the ocean waters off New Hampshire >click to read<11:41

Price offered for Maine’s baby eels hits record high

Strong demand for baby eels from Maine, spurred by poor winter harvests elsewhere around the globe, has driven prices in the opening days of the state’s annual fishing season to unprecedented heights. The average price offered to fishermen for their baby eels, also known as elvers, since the season began at noon last Thursday is between $2,700 and $2,800 per pound, according to Maine Department of Marine Resources. That’s the highest average price range ever reported by the state agency and more than double the $1,302 per pound that Maine fishermen averaged over the course of the 2017 season. >click to read<09:07

Fishermen suit against Atlantic marine monument moves ahead

The fishing groups sued to challenge the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument created by President Barack Obama in 2016. It’s a 5,000-square-mile area off of New England that contains fragile deep sea corals and vulnerable species of marine life such as right whales. The fishermen’s lawsuit had been put on hold by a review of national monuments ordered by President Donald Trump’s administration in April 2017. But a coalition of environmental groups is also intervening in the case in an attempt to keep the monument area preserved. >click to read<13:20

April Showdown Looming for Battle Over Atlantic Ocean Monument – >click to read<

Newburyport: ‘Dead in the Water’ to be screened at Custom House Maritime Museum April 4 at 7:30 p.m.

A new documentary film dealing with the devastating impact of federal regulations on the lives of New England ground fishermen will be shown at a Custom House Maritime Museum fundraising screening April 4 at 7:30 p.m. Wittkower, a graduate of the American Film Institute who has been living and working in Los Angeles since 1981, describes “Dead in the Water” as an examination of “the relentless destruction of the New England ground fishing industry through government regulations, bad science, and the growing, but mistaken, belief that everything has been overfished and there aren’t any fish left in the oceans.” >click to read<10:04

New Brunswick Crab fishermen to test ropeless fishing

New Brunswick snow crab fishermen will test two ropeless trap methods this spring to reduce the use of the fishing rope blamed in the deaths of two North Atlantic right whales last year.,,Mark Baumgartner, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said ropeless fishing is the solution to the entanglement problem.,, Robert Haché, director general of the Acadian Crabbers Association, said the fishermen want to do all they can to prevent entanglements.,, The techniques to be tested this season will be from U.S.-based technology and research companies, Haché said. >click to read< 10:13

Support local seafood before it’s too late

“Fishermen are the farmers of sea,” (March 17), states fisheries liaison Meghan Lapp in the documentary “Fishing Wars: Drowning in Regulation.” Oppressive federal regulations, inaccurate science and low quotas are crushing commercial fishing in Stonington and other communities. Fish stocks are at healthy levels, yet 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. And 97 percent of those imports are not inspected by the FDA. Are you worried yet? I am. >click to read< 08:18

Petition to Reclassify: Fight begins over fate of leatherback sea turtle

Protected as endangered species for nearly half a century, their Atlantic population soon may lose that status, in what is becoming a fight between commercial fishermen and conservationists. The Blue Water Fishermen’s Association, which represents longline fishermen who catch swordfish, tuna and other big fish along the east coast, has petitioned the federal government to reclassify from endangered to threatened the northwest Atlantic population of leatherbacks,,, With the Pacific leatherback population crashing, they say the northwest Atlantic population should be classified separately so U.S. fishermen aren’t penalized for the failure of other countries to protect them. >click to read<09:36

Fisherman who sued feds thrilled about funding for at-sea monitoring

A commercial fisherman who sued the federal government over at-sea monitoring costs was thrilled Thursday when it was announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would fully fund the program under the omnibus government spending bill. David Goethel, of Hampton, said he learned about the funding Wednesday. “I’ve been sitting on this for 18 hours. I was like a cat that swallowed a canary. I didn’t want to spit out any feathers,” Goethel said Thursday afternoon. >click to read<09:01

Partnership expected to create Live Stor America with holding facilities in Portland, Seattle

Live Stor Ltd. of North Sydney has reached an agreement with Tennessee-based LIG Assets to establish two live lobster holding facilities in the U.S. The new facilities would be based in Portland, Me. and Seattle, Wash. Under the name, Live Stor America, a million-pound live holding system operation in both cities would support import and export of live seafood from the U.S., Europe and Asia. “LIGA is very fortunate to partner with Live Ship, a company that is certain to disrupt the seafood delivery industry and shares our corporate values,” LIG Assets chairman Aric Simons said in a release issued earlier this month.>click to read<21:09

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross questions safety of seafood imports

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross addressed U.S. fisheries regulations and his concern about the quality of seafood imports with the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, 20 March, and he said he’s looking for NOAA Fisheries officials to work harder to reduce the country’s seafood trade deficit.,, “It’s one of my pet peeves,” Ross said, when asked by U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Mississippi) what he planned to do to reduce the country’s seafood trade deficit. “I hate the idea that with all the water surrounding us and all the water inland that we have a trade deficit in fish. >click to read<13:05

Shaheen Negotiates Full Federal Funding for At-Sea Monitoring Fees in Government Spending Bill

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement after obtaining funding in the omnibus government spending bill that will prevent a burdensome and costly at-sea monitoring fee from being imposed on New Hampshire fishermen this year. The fee was previously paid for by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but in recent years, the agency has shifted this significant financial burden on to fishermen. >click to read<11:00

Lobster: Don’t put us in same pot

FOREWARD: The spring fishers of P.E.I. include over 1,000 fleets from Tignish to East Point to Victoria. We are grateful for the support of local businesses and the general public who purchase our cold-water lobster each year. As with all goods and services, prices of lobster also fluctuate. However, one thing remains constant: Spring-caught lobster are hands-down the best quality lobster in North America, and when it comes to annual prices, the bar should be set by the highest quality product. We acknowledge that several factors also affect the price of lobster, such as CAD value, supply and demand. Our two articles are meant to provide clarity on the varying costs of P.E.I. lobster. Following is Part 1. >click to read<10:28