Daily Archives: July 7, 2016

Brownsville-Port Isabel Shrimp fleet blessing comes amid dour season outlook

577da0996b413.imageWith local crews preparing boats for the reopening of the Texas shrimp season in about a week, the Brownsville-Port Isabel shrimp fleet once again received a much-needed blessing Wednesday courtesy of Father Mark Watters. In the shade of a large, open-air shed at Zimco Marine on the Brownsville shrimp basin, diesel exhaust fumes from the idling trawler “Miss Opal” borne through the crowd by a stiff south wind, Watters led prayers against the industry’s tough times and the negative emotions they produce, and delivered a rousing sermon in the manner of a coach’s pre-game pep talk. Gary Graham, a professor and marine fisheries specialist with Sea Grant Texas at TexasA&MUniversity, was also in attendance, and said that excessive freshwater in the bays due to heavy spring rains has hindered development of the brown shrimp that the local fleet largely depends on. Not just the size but also the volume of shrimp appears to have been affected, he said. “I’m concerned with the overall number of shrimp that are going to be produced from our Texas base this year because of all the freshwater,” Graham said. Read the story here 18:59

The Case of the Poisoned Fish, by Sidney B. Silverman

20090519_gefactoryIn the mid-1980s, East Hampton’s summer and year-round weekend population was growing rapidly. The demand for water views in particular was enormous, and the seemingly endless construction of new homes along the shoreline caused wastewater and other pollutants to run off into the bays. The contaminants made their way into clam and scallop beds; at least two lucrative fishing areas were damaged. The death knell for commercial fishing sounded when striped bass became contaminated by PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, and in 1986 New York State, citing health reasons, closed the bass fishery. Fishermen called the striped bass their “money fish,” providing what small profit they made each year; the other catches only covered overhead.  General Electric was the cause of the contamination. It operated several plants adjacent to the Hudson River in upstate New York. The plants manufactured transformers and capacitors, using PCBs, a chemically stable, nonflammable fluid and a suspected carcinogen, for insulation. In handling this chemical, G.E. was sloppy to the point of recklessness. Read the story here 17:54

California fishing groups unite to fight offshore monuments that prohibit commercial fishing

untitled california seamountJuly 7, 2016 — A collection of more than 40 West Coast commercial and recreational fishing groups, working in conjunction with the National Coalition for Fishing Communities, has written to the White House, the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior, and officials in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, opposing the proposed designation of marine monuments off the coast of California that prohibit commercial fishing…The letter is in direct response to a recent proposal calling on President Obama to declare virtually all (SRB’s) off the California coast as National Monuments using his executive authority under the Antiquities Act. Read the rest hereRead the letter here 16:28

MAIB ‘Safety Lessons’ published one year after the tragic death of two Teignmouth fishermen

JMTA list of so-called ‘Safety Lessons’ has been published following the sinking of a fishing boat in which two men from Teignmouth died. Skipper Michael Hill, who was 22, and crewman Shane Hooper, a 33-year-old father of three, died when the scalloper JMT went down four miles off Rame Head last July. The MAIB investigation identified that: • JMT capsized and sank at around 1501 on 9 July 2015; the weather was good at the time, with slight seas. • The vessel had only 25% of the reserve of stability required by larger fishing vessels. • The vessel’s stability had been adversely affected by structural modifications and by aspects of the vessel’s operation. • Capsize was possibly triggered by emptying the starboard dredges while the port dredges and their contents remained suspended. • The crew’s likelihood of survival was reduced by not having the opportunity to broadcast a distress message, release the EPIRB from its stowage, lifejackets not being worn and the failure of the liferaft to surface. Read the report, and the article here 12:11

Research looking at genetic structure of Atlantic lobster

A PhD student from Laval University, Dorant is heading up a research project which seeks to better understand the genetic structure of the American lobster in Eastern Canada and he’s getting support from fisheries organizations, government departments and academics throughout the region. A better understanding could help establish guidelines and recommendations for building a more sustainable fishery, Dorant suggests. His project is co-directed by professors from Laval and University of New Brunswick. Read the story here 11:41

California’s confidential fishing rights leave millions of dollars in mystery.

Over years of writing about and working in the fishing industry, I (Nick Rahaim) have often found it difficult to substantiate many things told to me – often as gospel – on fishing boats and in salty bars. Many of those stories aren’t of much consequence – that most fishermen found dead in the water have their fly unzipped, or that whistling in the wheelhouse will blow up a storm. But another story represented enough potential injustice that I had to learn more. A year ago, while working as a fisherman and freelance journalist in Alaska, I heard California seafood companies that buy and sell product were buying up squid permits – permanent fishing rights, limited in number, bought and sold on a market – from independent fishermen. The implication: They were trying to corner the market, creating squid cartels where they could control prices paid to fishermen, causing ripples down the supply chain to the consumer. (More on the system of fishing rights later.) Read the story here 10:45

Last In-First Out: Todays various articles from the region


‘More questions than there are answers,’ FFAW says on scrapped LIFO policy – Click here

Federal fisheries minister’s decision on dispute in the Atlantic region sure to anger Nova Scotian fishermen – Click here

LIFO ban good news for Newfoundland fishery: Bill Barry Click here

‘LIFO is not a sustainable instrument of public policy’ – Click here


Scungilli! – Whelk, Once Ignored by Fishermen, Now a Prized Catch

whelkThe sea snails known by Italian-Americans as scungilli used to be such a niche market that fishermen ignored them when they turned up in lobster traps or oyster dredges. Now they’re a prized commodity. Because of growing demand in Asia and the collapse of other industries, such as lobster, fishermen searching for something else to catch are keeping and selling the big marine snails. A voracious predator, it crawls along the bottom of Atlantic coastal inlets from Nantucket Sound to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, piercing its razor-edged proboscis into clams and other prey. It’s an increasingly lucrative hunk of meat: A large whelk can be sold for as much as $7 in a live market. The annual dockside value of the whelk catch now tops $1 million in Virginia and Rhode Island, $1.4 million in New Jersey and $5.7 million in Massachusetts, according to marine fishery agencies in those states. In Delaware, knobbed and channeled whelks are now the third most valuable fishery behind blue crabs and striped bass. Read the story here 08:35

New England Fishery Management Council Report

NEFMC SidebarThe Council Report summarizes major actions approved at NEFMC meetings or highlights items of interest. At its June21-23 meeting in Portland, ME, the Council  approved actions  related to the  development  of its fishery management plans.  The issues  involved: Sea Scallop FW 28 and the RSA Program, Small Mesh Multisp., Amendment 22. Industry-Funded Monitoring Amendment, Atlantic Herring Amendment 8  Groundfish FW 56 and the haddock catch cap for herring midwatertrawl gear, and Other Items of Interest Read the report here 07:06