Category Archives: New England

Northern Shrimp plan changes advance

Meeting in Portland at the end of August, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section selected several final measures for inclusion in the latest revision to the Fishery Management Plan for northern shrimp. Known as “Amendment 3,” the latest version of the plan will bring about a number of significant changes to the way the fishery is managed — if indeed the northern shrimp fishery is ever resuscitated. Because fisheries scientists believed that the northern shrimp population had collapsed, commercial shrimp fishing on the Gulf of Maine has been banned since 2014 with only an extremely limited harvest for scientific data collection purposes permitted. click here to read the story 08:52

Something fishy in the quotas?

The clatter reverberated in the refrigerated cold as workers offloaded fish and wheeled full bins into a storage area on Fisherman’s Wharf. The catch was sorted, weighed, labeled, and eventually loaded onto large trucks headed for New York. It was a big haul, but not a big payday for Tom Testaverde Jr., captain of the Midnight Sun. “Our season’s been good. We caught a lot of fish, but the prices have been killing us all year,” Testaverde said. He pointed to imports that drive prices down, and regulations that limit what kinds of fish he can catch. Those federal limits on some species — particularly groundfish such as cod and flounder — are at odds with what commercial fishermen say they are seeing in the ocean. click here to read the story 14:34

New Southern New England lobster fishing rules on the way amid warming waters

New restrictions are coming to southern New England’s lobster fishery in an attempt to save the area’s population of the crustaceans, which has dwindled as waters have warmed. An arm of the interstate Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted on Tuesday to pursue new management measures to try to slow the decline of lobsters in the area. Management tools will include changes to legal harvesting size, reductions to the number of traps and seasonal closures to fishing areas. The board’s move was “a recognition that climate change and warming water temperatures play an increasingly role in lobster stocks, especially in southern New England,” said Tina Berger, a spokeswoman for the commission. click here to read the story 11:23

Conservation Law Foundation submits victim impact statement in Carlos Rafael case

Within the past 10 days, the Conservation Law Foundation sent three letters to various individuals involved — either directly or indirectly — with the Carlos Rafael case. The foundation doesn’t represent any party directly, but its goal is to “use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy,” according to its website. CLF sees Rafael’s guilty plea in March to illegal fishing as infringing on its principles. click here to read the story 21:18

2017 Sweep Efficiency Study Targets Summer Flounder – Cooperative research program effort reveals a few surprises

Testing the efficiency of different sweep types on fishing nets was the focus of twin trawling operations August 18-28 aboard the F/V Karen Elizabeth from Point Judith, RI.  Chris Roebuck and his four-person crew aboard the 78-foot western-rigged stern trawler Karen Elizabeth conducted this year’s study with five staff members from the NEFSC’s Northeast Cooperative Research Program and the Fisheries Ecology and Oceans and Climate branches. The team targeted summer flounder in Southern New England from Montauk, Long Island to Nantucket and red hake in the western Gulf of Maine off Cape Ann, making a total of 103 good tows and collecting over 73,000 fish from species targeted by the study.   click here to read the story 11:41

Former NOAA Expert, High-Accuracy Hurricane Predictor Says “Natural Cycles” Major Driver

A former NOAA meteorologist and 40-year veteran of hurricane predictions believes Irma will continue to move move west toward Florida and reach near the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula around Sunday, September 11th, as a major category 4 hurricane. Both David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations and the National Hurricane Center now believe Irma will make landfall near the southern tip of Florida, from near or just west of Miami to just west or near Jacksonville and then run up the coast into eastern Georgia. Dilley had predicted a harsh hurricane season already back in early February, long before most forecasters were ready to go public with their forecasts.So far his predictions for the current season have been impressively accurate.  click here to read the story 10:20

Trump official’s flounder ruling clouds Atlantic coast fish conservation

No one considers summer flounder an iconic Bay species. But fishery managers and conservationists say the ripple effect of a controversial Trump administration decision to let more “fluke” be caught in New Jersey may impact how important species such as striped bass and menhaden are managed in the Chesapeake. In the wake of an unprecedented decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce, some in Maryland are already calling on fishery managers to challenge how coastwide fishing restrictions are implemented in the Bay. The concern stems from a July ruling by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that allowed New Jersey to reject harvest limits accepted by all other East Coast fishery managers, which were aimed at stemming a seven-year decline in the summer flounder population. In recent decades, states had appealed similar harvest cutbacks ordered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 22 times. Never before had the commerce secretary overturned a decision by the interstate panel. click here to read the story 08:47

Years of high lobster landings spark resurgence in Maine’s boat building industry

A lobsterman’s biggest expense is the boat. Analysts say Maine’s boat-building industry has made a remarkable recovery since it bottomed out during the Great Recession of 2008, when many of the state’s boat builders, including Young Brothers Boats of Corea, decided to get out of the business. Inside Mike Light’s boat shop in Steuben, a 44-foot Calvin Beal lobster boat is getting a major face-lift that its owner hopes will keep him fishing for another 6-10 years. The seas take a toll on these hardworking vessels, and when the time comes for repairs, Light says, some fishermen are choosing to upgrade. click here to read the story 21:00

Turtleboy says, Time To Start Killing Sharks And Seals At Cape Cod Because We Take What We Want, When We Want

So Cape Cod has officially been taken over by seals, which means the shoreline has officially been taken over by the sharks. The seal population at Cape Cod has exploded because hippies don’t want us to kill them anymore. This of course brings in sharks because seals are obviously the most delicious animals in the sea, and now Orleans has turned into the Golden Corral. Our solution is simple – start killing seals, and if the sharks don’t go away, they can die too. Of course you get a lot of this: click here to read the story 15:38

Trump’s monument review is as secretive as Obama’s designations

Presidential use of the Antiquities Act is ripe for abuse, as major decisions impacting vast public lands, natural resources, property rights, livelihoods and private industry are left to the sole discretion of the president. After such a unilateral designation, the president does not need to substantiate his decision in any meaningful way, beyond the use of a few magic words on the face of the proclamation. It seemed like a positive step when President Trump in April issued an executive order seeking public input for a review of national monument designations over the last two decades. But it now appears that any hope for additional transparency may have been premature. click here to read the story 19:25

2 R.I. shipyards win grants under maritime funding program revived by Reed

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed on Saturday announced that two Rhode Island shipyards will be awarded $1,114,370 in federal funding to make capital improvements intended to help create jobs, increase economic activity, and improve their building, service, and maintenance capabilities.  Blount Boats in Warren will receive $508,927 and J. Goodison Company in North Kingstown will receive $635,453 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) through the Small Shipyard Grant Program. The Small Shipyard Grants, which are limited to no more than 75 percent of the estimated improvement costs, are available to U.S. shipyards with fewer than 1,200 production employees. click here to read the story 14:32

Study links fish farms to spread of antibiotic resistance

New research that finds a possible link between fish farms and the spread of antibiotic resistance doesn’t surprise marine biologist Inka Milewski. “Anytime you have animals grown in very concentrated conditions in these intensive livestock operations, whether it’s pigs or chickens, or in this case, fish, you’re going to have the potential for disease problems,” Milewski said in an interview Sunday from her home in the Miramichi in New Brunswick. “The solution to a lot of these problems is to put antibiotics into the feed. And so it should come as no surprise to anyone that they have found antibiotic resistance associated with fish farms.” The study released last week by Jing Wang of Dalian University of Technology in China concluded that genes for antibiotic resistance are getting into ocean sediments through fish food. click here to read the story 09:49

Teacher finds the lobster shift is a class by itself – my first summer job on a lobster boat

Dana McIntyre is a smart man. As I hung my arms high on the railing atop the stern of Island Lady, his lobster boat, leaning toward the expanse of Middle Bay in Harpswell as we sped from one string of traps to another, he said: “If I had your job as a high school teacher, talking and listening to students, parents, teachers and administrators nonstop for 10 months, I would not be starved for conversation in the summertime, either.” Captain Dana had nailed it. I love the idea of not talking during summer vacation, although it never works out that way. Dana knew how to get me yapping while taking care of business at my first summer job on a lobster boat – 30 years after buying a house less than 2 miles from Potts Harbor, at the end of a skinny 13-mile peninsula we call home. click here to read the story 10:06

Don Cuddy: Stokesbury’s science continues to yield scallops for SouthCoast

It’s been a long and busy summer for Kevin Stokesbury and his team of scallop researchers at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology. But a lot of sea time, following many months of preparation, has paid off in a big way. “We surveyed the entire footprint of the scallop resource from Virginia all the way up to the Hague Line,” Kevin told me. “That’s 70,000 kilometers square, a huge area. We’re all really jazzed.” The data was gathered using the system developed by Kevin in the 90′s, dropping underwater cameras mounted on a steel pyramid to the sea bed from the deck of a commercial scalloper. The work began at the end of April and finished in mid-July. click here to read the story 19:27

Lobster tradition targeted

At churches from Maine and Maryland to Mississippi, the annual community supper means one thing: lobsters. To animal-welfare activists, that’s a problem. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the prominent advocacy group, has honed its focus on one beloved tradition in Episcopal churches across the country: the lobster boil. The animal-welfare group sent a letter Aug. 25 to Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop and primate who leads the nationwide church, asking him to end the practice of lobster dinners in favor of something more vegetarian. hmm. shocking. click here to read the story 16:29

What Google Employees Had Shipped Into Burning Man

This week, Burning Man is in full swing. Since 1986, the annual festival has grown from a hippie-dippie solstice party filled with only two-dozen people into an event that sees 70,000 people descend upon Black Rock Desert, Nevada. The quasi-bohemian event gets bigger and bolder each year, as attendees try to outdo the past events, and now a group from Google has executed one of the biggest, boldest achievements yet: fresh lobster dinner in the desert. Apparently, the group had a 10-pound box of lobsters delivered to the Nevada desert from Lobster207, a company located just a hop, skip, and jump over in—Maine. (Yes, you read that correctly.) click here to read the story 11:13

Hurricane Irma holding steady as Category 3 storm in Atlantic

Hurricane Irma was holding steady Friday morning (Sept. 1) as a Category 3 storm in the Atlantic, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said. It’s unclear what impacts Irma might pose to land. Models are notoriously unreliable more than five days away, and Irma is not expected to near the Leeward Islands until sometime next week. The Leeward Islands are part of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea. As of Friday morning, the storm was about 840 miles northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and about 1,665 miles east of the Leeward Islands. It’s moving northwest at 12 mph. It’s expected to turn west again Friday night, followed by a turn to the west-southwest on Saturday. click here to read the advisory 08:29

Lobstermen plagued by low catch, low prices

As the shedder, or soft shell, season winds down with higher value hard shell lobsters on the horizon, local lobstermen are hoping to turn what has so far been a dismal season around. Lobsters are in hiding, or so it seems to lobstermen. “I’d say we’ve caught about half the lobsters [than in recent years],” Stonington lobsterman Tony Bray said of the 2017 season. The Stonington Lobster Co-op, which buys a large proportion of the local catch, reported a 25 to 30 percent drop in volume over last year. “The lobsters are out there, so this is not likely reflective of a resource decline,” said Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries scientist Carla Guenther, who follows Department of Marine Resources data monitoring. “It may be reflective of a habitat shift as to where the lobsters are, and a behavior shift as a reaction to the colder water.” click here to read the story 15:16

The Legacy of the N.H.-Maine Lobster War and Why It May Wage On

“That’s the line we’d use. We probably used it a century or so, between the New Hampshire and fishermen.” That’s Jack Newick, a lifelong lobsterman from Dover. Newick says in the old days, if you were out at sea, all you had to do was imagine a straight line connecting the lighthouses– and that was the border. They called it the “lights on range.” Newick, the New Hampshire lobsterman, remembers how it started. “For some reason, one particular Maine fisherman, he was a mean, ornery son-of-a-gun and he called the state of Maine down to establish a line.”Maine game wardens responding to the call found a New Hampshire lobsterman named Ed Heaphy with lobsters in his boat that were illegal in Maine. But Heaphy, using the “lights on range” said he wasn’t in Maine, he was in New Hampshire. The wardens disagreed. Things escalated. Ed Heaphy’s shipmate, Brockie, had a loaded pistol. Audio report, read the story here 14:26

Bristol County Sheriff’s Dept. captain charged with smuggling in Rafael case

A captain with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was arrested and charged late Wednesday in connection with helping Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits of his illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. James Melo, 45, of Dartmouth, was charged with one count each of bulk cash smuggling, structuring and conspiracy. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond following his appearance in federal court in Boston late this afternoon, authorities said in a news release. click here to read the story 10:37

NIOSH regional reports highlight top dangers in commercial fishing industry

Vessel disasters and falls overboard are the primary hazards experienced by workers in commercial fishing – an industry with a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average – according to a recent NIOSH analysis of four U.S. regions. NIOSH reviewed overall commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East and West Coasts from 2010 to 2014. Researchers found that 184 fatalities occurred in the four regions: Alaska recorded 45, the West Coast had 30, the East Coast reported 60 and the Gulf of Mexico experienced 49. Vessel disasters (capsizes, fires, groundings, sinking) accounted for the most deaths with 80, followed by falls overboard with 53. Other categories included onboard, onshore and diving. click here to read the story 23:24

Cooperation between fishermen, regulators not just a fluke

Fisheries management is only as good as the science that it’s based upon. The better the science, the more effective the management. For the past three years, Point Judith fisherman Chris Roebuck has partnered with federal regulators to get a better handle on fish stocks, taking scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out to sea on his 78-foot Western-rig stern trawler the Karen Elizabeth to help figure out where groundfish are and in what numbers. This summer’s trip wrapped up this week when the team of five researchers led by John Manderson, a senior ecosystem field scientist with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and a four-man crew headed by Roebuck returned to port in Galilee with new information on summer flounder, red hake and other species. click here to read the story 21:48

Bigelow won’t be around for the fall survey….who should do it? NEAMAP!

NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which operates and maintains the vessel, estimates that the ship will be back in service in early November, about two months later than originally estimated. In late July, a propulsion motor failed and the ship returned to port for repair, which was more extensive than initially thought and will require specialized parts. Several Northeast Fisheries Science Center research cruises have been affected. A beaked whale survey will be conducted later this year on the R/V Hugh Sharp, operated by the University of Delaware. The center is working with OMAO on options for using other NOAA ships for some or all of the annual fall bottom-trawl survey and the ecosystem monitoring cruise, which usually occur between September and late November. click here to read the story 14:30

New measures coming to protect right whales in Gulf of St. Lawrence: LeBlanc

As Canadian officials scramble to determine whether an endangered whale caught in fishing rope off Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula may have freed itself, federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc is promising a new set of rules around commercial fishing gear to protect the large marine mammals. A North Atlantic right whale was spotted entangled in ropes during a fly-over of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Monday, but LeBlanc said aerial and water patrols were unable to locate it Tuesday. LeBlanc said the federal government will usher in a new set of rules around fishing gear to improve the safety of whale migration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. click here to read the story 13:37

Rhode Island Fishermen Express Concerns About Upcoming Stock Assessments And Fishing Limits

Fishermen who attended a meeting Monday in Point Judith about upcoming groundfish stock assessments are unhappy with the data collection process for those assessments. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in the region, talked with commercial and recreational fishermen as a part of a series of port outreach meetings to hear fishermen’s concerns and to figure out how the science center could work to address them. Patrick Duckworth, a commercial fisherman who attended the meeting, said regulators are using bad scientific methods to collect data and set fishing limits. click here to read the story 08:43:52

Carlos Rafael’s wife petitions for right to claim vessels

Two parties, including Carlos Rafael’s wife, filed petitions in district court claiming they possess rights to the property listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture, according to court documents submitted Monday. Conceicao Rafael, who is married to Carlos Rafael, laid out in 45 pages her “rights to certain property” listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture. In seven more pages, Joao Camara laid out his argument to the rights to Southern Crusader II, one of the 13 vessels listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture. Camara claims ownership through a company named R and C Fishing Corp. Both Conceicao and Camara, through their attorneys, argued the assets aren’t subject to forfeiture because “at the time of any illegal act” by the defendant neither was “privy to any illegal act.” click here to read the story 07:57

What It’s Really Like on a Wicked Tuna Fishing Boat

If you add it all up, the days and nights on the water, Captain TJ Ott has probably spent most of his 37 years on a boat. The captain of the 39-foot Hot Tuna is a bear of a man with a scraggly beard who loves the Grateful Dead, and he’ll be the first one to tell you without equivocation that his life as a commercial fisherman is a profession, but also a kind of addiction. All of it—the wind across the deck; the solitude of being out at a spot like Jeffreys Ledge in the Gulf of Maine; settled behind the wheel with a pair of Rottweilers named Reba and Ripple lounging at his heels, scanning the sonar screen—for a guy who grew up in the fishing community of Broad Channel, New York, it doesn’t get any better than this. click here to read the story 15:38

Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program – 2017 Awards

NOAA Fisheries has awarded more than $2.3 million to partners around the country to support innovative bycatch reduction research projects through its . Bycatch of various species–fish, marine mammals, or turtles–can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts. Preventing and reducing bycatch is a shared goal of fisheries managers, the fishing industry, and the environmental community. click here to read the notice 14:10

It’s not okay

As we get into the thick of tuna season right now, and plenty of “large-medium” and “giant” class bluefin tuna are being caught by anglers around Cape Cod, and “small mediums” as well as good-sized yellowfin in the New York Bite, I thought it more than appropriate to say this… It’s not okay…. It’s not okay for an angler to take his or her bluefin, or yellowfin, or bigeye or any fish for that matter and sell it to the local restaurant through the back door… for freak’n gas money. Unfortunately, this kinda thing happens pretty regularly up here. Don’t tell me that it doesn’t, because I hear the bragging frequently. And don’t tell me that it’s a victimless crime. The hard-working full-time commercial fishermen are the first to get screwed. But it’s the consumer as well,,, click here to read the story 10:34

Lobstermen test new bait as hedge against herring price spikes

Two lobstering co-ops in Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde are working with The Nature Conservancy to see if they can freeze the alewives that bait their traps so successfully each spring to catch lobster at other times of the year. If it works, alewives could be the affordable bait they need when their usual favorite, Atlantic herring, is in short supply, such as it is again this summer. “It’s the second year in a row where we’ve had bait problems,” said Josh Miller, a 40-year-old lobsterman who belongs to the Tenants Harbor Lobstermen’s Co-op. “Most wharves are on (herring) rations. The prices have gone up 10 percent already. We started the season with prices that never dropped from last year, when we had a bait shortage. Bait is a huge issue.” click here to read the story 07:49