Tag Archives: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Conecticut lobstermen fighting for survival

Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation wants to make sure that Connecticut Lobster Fishermen get their two cents in before they change any fishing plans for Southern New England. Lobster fishermen, fighting for survival, are being asked to speak up before federal regulators make a new lobster management plan for Southern New England.  U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and the Connecticut Congressional Delegation want the local lobster industry to survive long-term.  But, lobstermen said new regulations could put them out of business at a time they see lobster catches growing. “Our records indicate it went up for the last three years not a lot, but a little bit,” Ted Whipple, who is a lobster buyer, said. Whipple said despite what government regulators claim, lobster fishing is improving. click here to read the story 08:49

New Jersey continues to fight summer flounder cuts

New Jersey’s fight against approved summer flounder measures hangs in the balance, and a meeting next month could prove critical for flounder fishermen. The state’s Marine Fisheries Council met Thursday evening at the Galloway Township branch of the Atlantic County Library in part to discuss its strategy in opposing a federal regulatory commission’s decision to cut this year’s summer flounder catch by 30 percent. “I’m getting questions every day,” said Dick Herb, the council’s chairman. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen there.” There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes,” he added. Earlier this year, the state council voted to go out of compliance with the federal measures, which could trigger a pivotal decision by new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross following a federal regulatory meeting in May, Herb said. click here to read the story 09:54

Connecticut Congressional Members Urge Lobster Regulators To Consider Impact of New Rules on Lobstermen

Connecticut’s remaining lobstermen should be heard before regional fishing regulators  decide on a new plan to try and restore Long Island Sound’s lobster population, members of Connecticut congressional delegation urged Wednesday. Five members of the delegation signed a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission asking that they get more feedback from Connecticut lobster operations before approving a final lobster management plan. Long Island Sound’s lobster population crashed in 1988-89. Marine scientists believe that climate change,,, Some Connecticut lobstermen argued that the dramatic population decline coincided with the widespread use of a particular pesticide used by Connecticut and New York to combat mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. click to read the story here 17:43

NJ asks feds to drop limits on summer flounder

With their rows of sharp buck teeth, their downturned mouths, and both eyes on one side of their curiously flat bodies, summer flounder might seem beautiful only to one another. But this delicately flavored flatfish is the pinup girl, the heart’s desire, of thousands of New Jersey’s recreational fishermen — and has long been the source of many millions of dollars in tourism revenue each summer. For that reason the state has petitioned a federal commission to reverse its new restrictions on catching summer flounder in state waters in 2017. click to continue reading the story 07:06

Trying to make a living

As soon as Old Man Winter indicates he’s loosening his grip on the Maine coast and spring is finally in the air, lobstermen will begin to rig their traps in preparation for the upcoming fishing season. One of their prime concerns this year, as in any year, will be questions about bait supplies and costs. Like other businessmen, how much money lobstermen take home at the end of the day, and what their annual profits will be, depends upon their costs and the price per pound their lobsters bring at the dock. In addition to any boat payments they may have, and for some fishermen with newer boats, these are high, they’ll be eyeing current fuel and bait costs.,, continue reading the op-ed here 10:32

Plan to reopen Maine shrimp fishery in the works

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is seeking comment on its plan to reopen the northern shrimp fishery, which has been closed for three years. The Arlington, Va.-based regulatory agency’s plan includes options such as changing the way the quota system is managed. The agency noted that earlier proposals had considered establishing a limited entry program. The current proposal eliminates that option and focuses instead on “total allowable catch allocation programs, gear requirements, and other measures to improve management of the northern shrimp fishery and resource.” continue reading the story click here 21:14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NEW JERSEY FILES FORMAL APPEAL OF SUMMER FLOUNDER QUOTA REDUCTIONS

New Jersey representatives to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have filed an appeal requesting the commission reconsider its vote significantly reducing the state’s recreational-fishing quota for summer flounder this year, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today (March 28, 2017). “We are appealing the ASFMC decision because of the numerous process, data, policy and regulatory issues that will significantly impact New Jersey’s fishing industry,” Commissioner Martin said. “The ASFMC decision will actually result in anglers in New Jersey having to throw more dead fish back into the water than they can keep to eat, and the fish they can keep overwhelmingly will be reproductive females. This is not sound fishery management.” Read the press release here 08:02

Proposed regulations irk lobstermen

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

Proposals Aim To Restore Lobsters To Long Island Sound

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

MAFMC & ASMFC Set Black Sea Bass Specs for 2017-18 – Benchmark Assessment Finds Resource Not Overfished & Overfishing Not Occurring

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) have approved revised specifications for the 2017 black sea bass fishing year as well as specifications for the 2018 fishing year for the Northern black sea bass stock (Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the US-Canadian border). The revised specifications are based on the results of the 2016 benchmark stock assessment, which found the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The approved limits are consistent with the recommendations of the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters (0-3 miles from shore). The Council will forward its recommendations for federal waters (3 – 200 miles from shore) to NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval. Read the rest here 11:23

NJ Fluke Fishing Industry in Flux

After a decision made last week aimed at protecting the Atlantic Ocean’s primary cash fish, New Jersey anglers now believe their industry is in dire straits. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission  (ASMFC), a federally regulated authority that oversees fishing management for the 15 states along the Atlantic Coast, has decided to increase regulations on summer flounder for 2017. “With what they’re proposing, it’s going to be the final nail in our coffin,” said Ron Santi, a head boat captain based out of Atlantic Highlands. “When looking at recreational and commercial fisheries on a whole, it seems as though for 20 to 30 years, we’ve been fishing at a higher level than the resources can sustain,” said Kirby Rootes-Murdy, a senior fishery management plan coordinator with ASMFC. Between recreational and commercial fishing, fluking generates nearly $2.5 billion for the state’s economy, according to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Continue reading the story here 08:00

Could N.J. defy summer flounder cuts?

It didn’t take long after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to slash summer flounder harvest quotas for the rumblings of anglers calling for New Jersey to defy the regulations to pick up. The ASMFC ordered the harvest cut by 40-percent based on science that indicates the fish is declining in abundance and survey data that reports anglers overreached their quotas last year. The science and angling surveys are at the center of the issue. Many lawmakers in New Jersey and its environmental chief have expressed concern about its accuracy because it relies on random sampling. “We understand the long-term impacts of overfishing a species. But we also know for a fact that fluke are abundant and the population is stable off New Jersey,” said Bob Martin, the Commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Video, Read the story here 16:25

Commission Cuts Summer Flounder leaving New Jersey leaders fuming

The Commission voted Thursday to reduce this year’s summer flounder catch, leaving New Jersey leaders fuming and vowing to take action. It’s a move many in the state believe could devastate the recreational fishing industry at the Jersey Shore by tightening size and bag limits on the fish.,,At its meeting in Virginia, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission chose Option 5, which implements reductions between 28 percent and 32 percent the length of the coast. All other options included in the plan would have mandated a 41 percent cut. Federal experts have argued the reductions are necessary to preserve the stock. At a public hearing last month in Galloway Township, Kirby Rootes-Murdy, a senior fishery management plan coordinator at ASMFC, said the flounder stock is in “an overfishing situation.” Read the story here 21:00

Pallone Opposes Cuts to Summer Flounder Quotas at Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting

Today, at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a spokesperson for Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) provided a statement arguing that proposed reductions for Summer Flounder quotas would harm many coastal communities including those along the Jersey Shore that rely on the recreational and commercial fishing industries. The Commission, despite opposition by New Jersey representatives, elected to finalize regulations that will result in a 34% cut in summer flounder quotas for the state. The bag limit will decrease to 3 fish, and the minimum size will increase one inch to 19 inches on the New Jersey coast and 18 inches in Delaware Bay. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Read the press release here 18:57

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

Controversial flounder plan could get final approval Thursday

A proposal to drastically reduce this year’s summer flounder catch could get final approval at a federal regulatory meeting Thursday morning in Virginia. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee is scheduled consider strategies that would reduce the summer flounder harvest by up to 41 percent coast-wide and implement tighter restrictions on bag and size limits for recreational fishermen. It’s a proposal that has been met with widespread criticism in New Jersey—from recreational fishermen, both U.S. Senators, multiple other politicians and even the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection. In August, the ASMFC and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council set the summer flounder harvest limit at an all-time low in response to the most recent stock assessment, and, last month, the regulatory bodies approved a set of options to meet that goal. Read the rest of the story here 21:27

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

R.I. quota for menhaden the focus of debate

About 30 recreational and commercial fishermen, fish processors, environmental groups (like Save the Bay) and fish managers attended Monday’s public hearing on Atlantic menhaden at the URI Bay Campus held by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The two main issues at the hearing were the use of ecosystem-based management strategies to determine stock status and allowable catch limits, and landing time frames, which would be used to determine allocation of quota. The Atlantic menhaden plan will be the first ASMFC plan that utilizes ecosystem-based management in this fashion. Meghan Lapp of Seafreeze, Ltd., North Kingstown (the largest producer and trader of sea-frozen fish on the East Coast) and a member of the ASMFC Atlantic menhaden Advisory Panel, said “Historically, Rhode Island has landed a lot more fish than the allocation reflects.” Read the column here 16:30

Menhaden are flourishing

A recent column by Chris Dollar (“Outdoors: The more menhaden the better,” Dec. 3) cites claims from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that the current management of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay has left the stock running low. The column also echoes the foundation’s position that the menhaden harvest cap should be lowered. The science suggests the opposite to be the case. In 2012, based on fears of overfishing, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission implemented a menhaden quota. Soon after the quota was implemented, scientists found the concerns of overfishing were misplaced. Further research found that menhaden are prospering coastwide. In fact, the ASMFC declared conclusively that menhaden are neither “overfished nor experiencing overfishing.” Read the rest here 15:58

Big changes in the air over little menhaden? – Hearings examine ecological value, catch allocation of forage fish species

menhadenThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates near-shore fishing from Maine to Florida — including the Chesapeake Bay — has invited public comment on several questions about future management of the menhaden fishery at hearings all along the coast. Sessions in the Bay watershed begin Monday, Dec. 5. The most important issue under consideration involves setting new “reference points” regulating the catch of menhaden that would account for their value to other fish and predators — not just their commercial importance. But the commission also is weighing whether to shake up how the total catch is distributed along the coast. Read the slanted story here Review Public information document for Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan For Atlantic Menhaden here  12:11

The real reason why you’re suddenly seeing whales in N.J. and N.Y. waters

menhadenWhales. They’ve been seemingly everywhere. Breaching just past the sandbars in Asbury Park. Swimming past groups of surfers in Rockaway Beach. Besides inspiring a chorus of oohs and aahs, the increase in sightings is adding a blubbery new wrinkle to a raging debate over a far smaller fish: the Atlantic menhaden. It’s the menhaden, also known as “bunker” — clumsy, multidinous, slow swimming virtual floating hamburgers — that those whales are chasing. But the story of why Atlantic menhaden is suddenly so plentiful is a complicated — and controversial — one, pitting environmentalists and anglers against commercial fishing operations, with both sides claiming science is on their side. Read the story here 12:33

Northern shrimp season canceled for 2017

In response to the depleted condition of the northern shrimp resource, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section extended the moratorium on commercial fishing for the 2017 fishing season. The Section also approved a 53 metric ton research set aside to allow for the continued collection of biological data. The 2016 Stock Status Report for Gulf of Maine Northern Shrimp indicates abundance and biomass indices for 2012 through 2016 are the lowest on record of the 33-year time series. Recruitment indices for the 2010 through 2015 year classes are also poor and include the three smallest year classes on record. As a result, the 2012 through 2016 indices of harvestable biomass are the lowest on record. Read the rest here The 2016 Stock Status Report is available, click here  15:52

Commission likely to keep Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery closed

maineshrimp_courtesyofC_SchmidtA board of the regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is set to decide Thursday whether fishing will be allowed this year. A committee of scientists has advised the board it’s not a good idea, with temperatures off New England inhospitable to the shrimp. Spencer Fuller, a shrimp and lobster buyer with Cozy Harbor Seafood in Portland, said his company was once the largest processor of Maine shrimp in the country, and it has suffered. He said that he is prepared for another year of closure, but that it will send residual troubles through Maine’s seafood industry. The commission is also working on a plan for how to manage the fishery if or when reopening happens, Appelman said “If the fishery opens back up again, which we hope it does, we can’t have a free-for-all on all these shrimp,” he said. “This is how to make sure the pressure on this weak population isn’t too much for it to handle right off the bat.” Read the story here 08:05

ASMFC scientists conclude Maine’s shrimp fishery should stay shut down

maineshrimp_courtesyofC_SchmidtA scientific committee says Maine’s shuttered cold water shrimp fishery should stay shut down for at least another year. The shrimp fishery has been shuttered since the end of 2013 because of low populations. Scientists say warming ocean temperatures off New England are inhospitable for the shrimp. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission says a scientific committee that studies the shrimp reports the species still faces “poor prospects for the near future.” The committee is recommending the commission extend the moratorium on fishing for the shrimp through 2017.  An arm of the Atlantic States that deals with Maine shrimp will meet to make a decision about the coming fishing year on Nov. 10 in Portsmouth. link 15:53

Regulators increase menhaden quota – “Science says the stock’s in good shape,”

menhadenRegulators voted Wednesday to increase the annual quota for menhaden in 2017, giving Maine lobstermen a welcome boost in the supply of a popular bait fish, but no relief for Maine fishermen who want a bigger share of the national menhaden harvest. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has struggled to set its quota for the oily forage fish, also known as pogey, with members split between wanting to maintain the annual menhaden catch at 187,880 metric tons and those who say the stock has rebounded enough to raise the quota. On Wednesday, as the commission gathered for its annual meeting in Bar Harbor, the menhaden board voted 16-2 to increase the annual quota by 6.5 percent, to 200,000 metric tons, with Pennsylvania and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service holding out for keeping the quota unchanged. “Science says the stock’s in good shape,” said Bill Adler of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “I find it difficult that we can deal with overfishing, we can do a good job of cutting things down, but then we have success and we don’t know what to do with it.” Read the rest here 08:07

KAELIN: Fisheries commission should increase menhaden quota

menhadenWhen Thanksgiving rolls around this year, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission may give New Jersey’s fishermen something to be thankful for. At its meeting Wednesday, the ASMFC will be voting on whether to increase the number of menhaden fishermen can catch each year. By voting in favor of a quota increase, which is strongly supported by the science New Jersey’s commission representatives can improve local economies and bolster the bottom line of hard-working fishermen during the summer and fall seasons while maintaining a balanced ocean ecosystem. After the release of a periodic stock assessment in 2012, the ASMFC incorrectly concluded the stock was threatened. The commission followed that assessment with a significant cut in the amount of menhaden New Jersey fishermen were allowed to catch — a cut of more than 50 percent that remains in effect today, much to the detriment of New Jersey fishing businesses. Read the story here 19:57

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting at Bar Harbor, Maine October 24th-27th – Listen Live

logo%20jpegThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet in at the Harborside Hotel 55 West Street Bar Harbor, Maine.  The agenda is subject to change. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings. The Commission may adjust this agenda in accordance with the actual duration of Board meetings. Interested parties should anticipate Boards starting earlier or later than indicated herein. Click here for details, Click here for webinar 12:10

New York State Extends Commercial Black Sea Bass Season to October 13th

dec-logoGovernor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state has extended the commercial black sea bass fishing season to October 13. Originally scheduled to close on September 17, the recent tropical storm contributed to a lower rate of black sea bass landings, making New York’s waters prime for an extended harvest season. After review of the most recent landings data, Department of Environmental Conservation and Division of Marine Resources staff determined that the commercial season could be extended. The current trip limit of 50 lbs. per day remains in effect. For certain commercially harvested species like black sea bass, annual commercial quota allocations are provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Fishery management tools such as fishing trip limits and quota management plans have been implemented for quota managed species. The Department of Environmental Conservation continues to work closely with commercial fishermen to expand black sea bass harvest opportunities, and also has called for a revised, more equitable federal management strategy to improve the fishery experience. Link 19:06

Further cut in fluke quota puts Stonington fishermen, wholesaler in peril

Imagine one of the breadwinners in a typical two-earner household is suddenly hit with a 26 percent pay cut. Then, just as the family has adjusted to the leaner budget, the same worker’s pay gets lopped another 30 percent. Their landlord already has reduced their rent, and the family has cut corners wherever they could, so how will they make ends meet now? That’s basically the question Mike Gambardella, owner of Gambardella Wholesale Fish at Stonington Town Dock, is asking himself. He faces a new 30 percent reduction in the supply of fluke, one of his main products, next year, following the 26 percent cut he’s already dealing with this year that’s cost him about $100,000 in revenue. It also forced him to lay off one of his workers and reduce pay for himself and his remaining six workers, and negotiate reduced rent on the building he rents from the town. “At this point,” he said Thursday, “we’re fighting a losing battle. If I lose another $100,000 next year, I can’t afford to stay in business.” The new 30 percent cut in the supply of fluke — also called summer flounder — was announced Aug. 15 by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which regulates fluke and other species for the East Coast along with a larger body, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, but the council basically has the controlling authority. Read the story here 11:14

Bait Relief! Maine Pogy fishery reopens with strict new rules

1016188_285199-Feature_01Maine made bait fishermen and lobstermen happy Monday when it reopened its pogy fishery after concluding there is still enough menhaden left in the Gulf of Maine to keep the population healthy. Those who hunt for nearshore schools of the flat, oily-fleshed silver fish – the second most popular lobster bait in Maine after herring – must follow strict new rules to prevent unusual damage or imminent depletion of the Atlantic menhaden. If they limit their fishing days to three and their catch to no more than 120,000 pounds a week, Maine fishermen can use up the remaining 2.3 million-pound quota allotted to Maine, Rhode Island and New York during a so-called “episodic” fishing event, when pogies are deemed unusually plentiful in New England waters. Read the rest here 08:08

MAFMC and ASMFC Actions on Black Sea Bass, Bluefish, Scup and Summer Flounder

10.summer-flounderLast week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) reviewed previously implemented specifications for scup, black sea bass and bluefish fisheries and modified specifications for summer flounder. The Commission’s actions are final and apply to state waters. The Council will forward its federal waters recommendations regarding summer flounder specifications to NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Administrator for final approval. For summer flounder, both groups approved a commercial quota of 5.66 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 3.77 million pounds for 2017, an approximate 30% decrease from 2016. This decrease in catch and landings limits responds to the findings of the 2016 stock assessment update, which indicates summer flounder has been experiencing overfishing since 2008. Read the rest here 12:06

Draft plan unveiled to curb Southern New England lobster declines

AR-160809943.jpg&MaxW=624&MaxH=400The American Lobster Management Board has released a draft plan responding to declining stocks of lobsters in Southern New England waters that will be considered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission at its annual meeting in late October. The proposal presents a suite of management measures to increase egg production and lower harvesting mortality through a combination of management tools that include season closures, trap limits and reductions and changes in escape vent and lobster size regulations. The goal is to increase egg production for lobsters in Southern New England waters from zero to 60%. The draft responds to the 2015 American lobster benchmark stock assessment that found the Southern New England “stock severely depleted and undergoing recruitment failure with poor prospects of recovery,” according to Friday’s statement from ASMFC. Read the rest here 11:13

Shortage of herring for lobster bait market maxes out Maines Pogey Quota for the first time.

625968-20160805_Feature_03-1024x683The offshore supply of fresh Atlantic herring, the go-to bait for most Maine lobstermen, has been in short supply, driving prices up as much 30 percent in late July, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association said. The shortage triggered near-shore fishing restrictions to try to stretch out the summer herring catch in hopes of keeping bait bags full as Maine’s lobster season hits its peak. With herring getting scarce and expensive, fishermen have turned to other bait for relief, especially the pogie, the local name for Atlantic menhaden. It’s the No. 2 bait fish among Maine lobstermen, according to a state Department of Marine Resources survey. Maine fishermen have never landed the state’s entire pogie quota, which is set at about 166,000 pounds annually. But this year they had caught all of that and a bit more by July 31, said Megan Ware, head of the menhaden program for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which oversees the pogie catch and other migratory fisheries on the East Coast. Read the story here 09:41

Rules tightened on shark fin removal at sea

spiny dogfishInterstate regulators are tightening the restrictions on the last species of shark that can have its fins removed at sea in the U.S. Smooth dogfish are the only sharks from which American fishermen can remove fins at sea. Many other sharks can be hunted, but fins can’t be removed until processing on land. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Tuesday to approve a new rule that allows fishermen to bring smooth dogfish to land with fins removed, as long as their total retained catch is at least 25 percent smooth dogfish. Right now, they can bring ashore as many as they choose. The rule change would better incorporate the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 into management of the dogfish, staff with the fisheries commission said. The dogfish are harvested from Rhode Island to North Carolina, and are among the many shark species that fishermen bring to land in states from Maine to Texas. Sharks are also hunted for their meat, but their greatest value is in their fins, which are used to make shark fin soup. Read the rest here 17:33

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission could increase menhaden catch

menhadenNew Jersey commercial bait fishermen want to see the coastwide catch of menhaden increased nearly 80,000 metric tons. “We’re focused on the science. If the science supports an increase, we want to take it,” said Jeff Kaelin from Lunds Fisheries, a commercial fishing operation in Cape May. The amount of menhaden fishermen will be able to take from the water next year will be decided Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meets. The Atlantic Menhaden Technical Committee has given the ASMFC options that would allow the catch to increase by as much as 10,000 to 80,000 metric tons. Kaelin said Jersey gill netters have been shut out of the fishery since July 4, after fishermen reached their allocation for this year. He said if they had more quota, they could be selling bait to New England lobstermen who are clamoring for bait. Read the rest here 19:22

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Summer Meeting – Alexandria, Virginia August 2-4, 2016

ASMFC Sidebar

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet in at the The Westin Alexandria August 2-4, 2016.  The agenda is subject to change. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings. The Commission may adjust this agenda in accordance with the actual duration of Board meetings. Interested parties should anticipate Boards starting earlier or later than indicated herein. Board/Section meeting proceedings will be broadcast daily via webinar beginning at 10:15 a.m. on August 2nd  and continuing daily until the conclusion of the meeting (expected to be 4:00 p.m.) on Thursday August  4thClick here for details, Click here for webinar 10:45

Restrictions on tap for southern New England lobster fishery

lobster-sizeNew restrictions are on tap for the region’s historic lobster fishery, which is grappling with an unprecedented decline. Scientists have said lobsters off southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut have declined in the face of the warming ocean. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering ways to help preserve the species, and a report from the commission says one way to preserve lobsters could be to increase the minimum harvesting size. The commission’s lobster board might take action on the issue Thursday. “The biggest challenge I see is trying to establish an appropriate goal to manage the fishery in the face of what the scientists are telling us is the decline caused by ocean warming,” said Dan McKiernan, a member of the lobster board. Read the rest here 15:43

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission extends Herring catch limits to prolong catch of lobster bait

atlantic herringThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has extended some of Maine’s emergency Atlantic herring restrictions to Massachusetts to try to close a loophole that threatened to derail the summer supply of lobster bait. On Wednesday, the Commission voted 2-1 to cut the number of days that herring boats can land fish each week within its jurisdiction from five to two, with Maine and New Hampshire representatives voting in favor of the landing day reduction and Massachusetts voting against it. Under its emergency rules, Maine had already cut its landing days down to two in an attempt to prolong the availability of fresh herring throughout the lobster season, but boats that fished that area could still land for five days if they sailed to a Massachusetts port such as Gloucester. “Without constraints on the landing (in Massachusetts) we would not make it into August, much less September,” said Terry Stockwell of Maine Department of Marine Resources. Meanwhile, Maine lobstermen are struggling. “The bait freezers are empty,” Stockwell said. And the bait that is available is expensive. Read the story here 09:11

Work on Atlantic Marine Monument not done yet, Eric Reid, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

ObamaIn June, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, a Republican U.S. Rep. Utah, visited New Bedford and spoke to several members of the industry regarding their concerns about a potential marine monument off the coast of New England. Following the meeting, I remarked to The Standard-Times reporter that a monument could potentially cost the industry up to $500 million in economy activity, in addition to countless jobs. This estimate has been criticized for being far too high. But it is based on two premises — a conservative estimate of the economic impact of fishing in New England, and the lack of clarity surrounding the marine monument discussion. Currently, the commercial fishing industry from Maine to New Jersey brings in an estimated $1.4 billion per year in landings. These landings support hundreds of millions of dollars more in economic activity for related and shoreside businesses, and employ tens of thousands of people up and down the coast. Read the rest here 08:18

Connecticut – DEEP to host hearing on shark, menhaden plan

asmfc black logoThe state Department of Energy and Environmental Marine Fisheries Division will host a public hearing to get input on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s draft management plan for coastal sharks and for menhaden. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. June 28 at DEEP Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road. The purpose of the plan for coastal sharks is to maintain consistency between federal and state fishery management plans, where possible, and to better incorporate the intent of the smooth dogfish limited exception in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 into state regulations. Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the plan at the hearing or by providing written comment. Read the rest here 08:43

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission revisit chance of reopening Maine shrimp fishery

maine shrimpInterstate fishing regulators are revisiting the possibility of reopening Maine’s shrimp fishery, now in its third year of a shut down since warming oceans have negatively affected the shrimp population. Fishery managers with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are opening up the possibility of new regulations to manage the fishery. Fishery Management Plan Coordinator Max Appelman said new regulations would address issues such as overfishing. “The big challenges facing this resource are overcapacity in the fishery and overcoming adverse effects of climate change,” Appelman said. (Here comes catch shares!) Read the rest here 13:48

Long Island Commercial Fishing Association opposes offshore marine monument

asmfc black logoThe Long Island Commercial Fishing Association has joined the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in the latter group’s motion to oppose the designation of an offshore marine monument in the Northeast Atlantic, which environmental groups support. Last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fisheries Management Program unanimously approved a resolution opposing any designation, but offering recommendations should such a monument be created. Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, released a statement on Friday in support of the fishery commission’s resolution. Read the rest here , Read ASMFC Urges Transparency and Public Input in Proposed New England Offshore Canyons & Seamounts Monument Decision Making Process, Letter to the Obama administration  Click here 11:06

Long Island lobstermen oppose closures, question how regulators are making their decisions.

10-lobsters1Long Island lobstermen, already straining under the weight of a seasonal closure of the Long Island Sound and sharply reduced lobster populations, face the potential for more closures as federal regulators work to rebuild a depleted stock. At a meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last week, the American Lobster Management Board agreed to review a series of new measures to address what they called the continuing decline in the Southern New England lobster fishery, which includes the . The fishery has been affected by environmental factors and fishing activity, the board said. Montauk lobsterman Al Schaffer said he and others saw a resurgence in the areas they fish around the Long Island Sound last year, though fishing is down thus far this spring. “There’s zero science,” he said, adding he strongly opposes any attempt to further restrict fishing. Read the story here 11:10

To avoid another massive fish kill in the Peconic, limits on bunker fishing lifted by “episodic event set aside program,”

2016_0401_bunker-1With unusually large numbers of bunker fish appearing in the Peconic River this spring, commercial fishermen will be allowed to net bunker in an effort to prevent the massive bunker kills seen last year, thanks to a ruling announced today by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The interstate commission, which limits how many fish can be caught each year, has agreed to add New York to a special program that allows greater numbers of bunker to be harvested in places where bunker are occurring in higher abundance than normal. The decision was made specifically to reduce the amount of bunker in the Peconic Estuary, where bunker have been reported in unusually large numbers since last month. Commercial fishermen will be allowed to use seine nets to capture bunker in the Peconic River. Up to one million pounds of bunker are allowed to be harvested under the episodic event set aside program. Read the rest here 14:25

New Jonah crab rules for East Coast fishermen

jonahFishing regulators say there will be a new limit on how many Jonah crabs fishermen will be allowed to harvest. East Coast fishermen’s catch of Jonah crabs has been growing in recent years as the crustacean grows in popularity. They are used in processed products and as an alternative to the more expensive Dungeness and stone crabs. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission  has set a bycatch limit of 1,000 pounds of crabs per trip for trawl and net fishermen. Fishermen who unintentionally catch Jonah crabs using certain kinds of traps will face the same standard. Bycatch is incidental catch by fishermen who are seeking something else. The commission says the new standards will prevent increases in proliferation of traps. AP

How will battery of new regulations affect Southern New England’s lobster fishermen?

AR-160509878.jpg&MaxW=650Southern New England’s fading lobster fishery will be subject to a battery of new regulations, possibly closed fishing areas and stricter size standards, to try to save the crustacean’s population locally.,, But the catches on SouthCoast have not been as bad as the numbers may indicate, local lobstermen say. “The past three years have been the best I’ve ever seen,” said Jarrett Drake, a lobsterman in Marion for 26 years. “And that’s the same for everyone around me, the stock assessments are brought down by places off Virginia and Maryland that aren’t doing very well.” The overall decline, however, is here to stay, said Beth Casoni, associate executive director for the Mass. Lobstermen’s Association. “The environmental factors will continue to cause this decline, with what we know about warming,” Casoni said. “But it’s unfortunate that Massachusetts and Rhode Island Area Two, lobstermen are in this stock that is in such a downward spiral.” Read the rest here 14:47

ASMFC Spring Meeting – May 2-5, 2016, Alexandria, Virginia

ASMFC SidebarThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet in Alexandria, Virginia at The Westin Alexandria 400 Courthouse Square May 2-5, 2016. The agenda is subject to change. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings. The Commission may adjust this agenda in accordance with the actual duration of Board meetings. Interested parties should anticipate Boards starting earlier or later than indicated herein. Board/Section meeting proceedings will be broadcast daily via webinar beginning at 9:00 a.m. on May 2nd and continuing daily until the conclusion of the meeting (expected to be 2:30 p.m.) on May 5thClick here for details, Click here for webinar 18:42

Elver fishermen unite as tribes agree to new rules

SMR_Feigenbaum-Simmons-Young-Atwood-1Last year, Maine fishermen harvested elvers worth more than $11.4 million from the state’s streams and rivers. That made the fishery for the tiny, translucent juvenile eels the fourth most valuable in the state, but it still wasn’t a good year. A cold, dry spring delayed the migration of elvers from the sea into the rivers where harvesters set their gear. As a result, Maine fishermen landed just 5,259 pounds of the tiny wrigglers, little more than half the 9,688-pound quota allocated the state by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. When the Maine Elver Fishermen Association gathered for its annual meeting Saturday morning, harvesters received some good news from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and former MEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Pierce. Read the article here 09:42

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approves NJ option for summer flounder

New Jersey is one step closer to becoming its own summer flounder management region. The  unanimously approved an option Tuesday during their winter meetings in Virginia to allow for a New Jersey/Delaware Bay management region. It would pull the state out of its present management region which it shares with Connecticut and New York.The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council must now vote to adopt the measure. The council’s next meeting is March 3. Read the rest here 19:21

Regulators Postpone Plan to Try to Preserve Lobsters

Atlantic_States_Marine_Fisheries_Commission_logoInterstate fishing regulators have decided to hold off on starting the process of crafting a plan to try to preserve the dwindling southern New England lobster stock. A board of the  voted Tuesday to postpone authorizing a new management plan for the fishery. A plan could address issues such as trap reductions and closed seasons for lobster fishermen. Southern New England’s lobster fishery is a historic industry in decline. Scientists say the area’s lobster population has sunk to its lowest levels on record. Lobster supply to consumer remains strong because of heavy catch off Maine and Canada. The board decided to postpone the initiation of the plan to allow a technical committee to do more work. It could revisit the issue in May or August. Link 17:48

Gulf of Maine lobster stock at an all-time high

lobsterDM0811_468x521A recent lobster stock assessment shows the population of the state’s famous bottom-dwelling crustacean at record highs in the Gulf of Maine. Through data collected by fishery-dependent and fishery-independent sources, the stock assessment gives fishermen and scientists a picture of the condition of the economically important stock. According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the 2015 benchmark stock assessment for lobsters shows the stock of crustaceans in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank is not depleted and overfishing is not occurring. However, the situation for the stock in southern New England is far less clear,,, Read the article here 12:52

New England States prepare to review new rules for herring fishery

atlantic herringThe new year will soon be here, and with it comes a new round of significant changes to the rules governing the herring fishery. Next week, the Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing on what is known as “Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Management Plan for Atlantic Herring.” Hearings are also scheduled in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. According to the ASMFC, the new rules would affect the inshore Gulf of Maine — called Area 1A — herring fishery to reflect changes in both the herring resource and the fishery itself. Read the article here 08:30

Omega Protein : Conservation groups and legislators look to change menhaden regulations

With the lights of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel twinkling in the background, Barry Knight looked at a room full of supporters and realized he no longer was alone. For nearly a decade, the Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates has been trying to wrestle the menhaden fishing industry from the grasp of the state’s General Assembly. An environmentally conscious angler and a rural Virginia Beach pig farmer, he has wondered for years why menhaden are the only species in Virginia waters that are not controlled by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Read the article here 15:31

Shrimpers wanted for Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission research program

maineshrimp_courtesyofC_SchmidtThe commission, which hopes to begin the test-tow portion of the the program in mid-January and the trap portion about a month after that, is looking for a total of four trawl vessels and two trap vessels from New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts. The $10,000 program is designed to catch the northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, while they are in inshore waters to collect data on the timing of the egg hatch, as well as the size, gender and development stages of the shrimp. Read the article here 07:44

2016 Maine shrimp fishing season canceled

ASMFC SidebarThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section voted Monday to cancel the 2016 Maine shrimp fishing season. A report written by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee said, “Given the depleted condition of the resource and poor prospects for the near future, the NSTC recommends that the Northern Shrimp Section extend the moratorium on fishing through 2016.” Read the article here 17:18 Then this, Maine shrimp fishing ban extended amid warming water fear 17:33

More black sea bass added to quota

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board last week approved increases to the 2016 black sea bass commercial quota and recreational harvest limit (RHL).  This means more black sea bass can be taken by commercial and recreational fishermen. The ASMFC announced that the commercial quota is now being set at 2.71 million pounds (was going to be 2.24 million pounds) and the RHL is being set at 2.88 million pounds (was at 2.33 million pounds). Read the rest here 17:22

Net Effect: The fight over flounder

David Sneed is executive director of thegillnet southern flounder, the main group representing recreational fishermen. He says commercial fishermen have blocked attempts to reduce the use of gill nets. “The science has been there to say, ‘Hey, we need to pull back on this. We’re over-harvesting these fish,’ but the push has always been there to say, ‘No, we need to catch more fish, you know, we need to be able to make money off of this resource.’” But Jerry Schill, executive director of the NC Fisheries Association, the main group representing commercial fishermen, says the flounder fishery is not being overharvested. Read the rest here 09:19

Southern Flounder – Disputed fisheries studies: Politics or inexact science?

flounder-southernScience plays a big role in managing fisheries. Scientists assess fish stocks, migration patterns, environmental issues — useful data that allow regulators to set policy. We expect our science to be accurate and unaffected by politics, and as citizens, we expect political actors to treat science in the same manner.,, Yet a series of e-mails found their way into the public domain from a 2007 round-robin discussion among several N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries scientists trying to peg a mortality rate for speckled seatrout caught by recreational anglers. See video  It would take a few hundred words to demonstrate where science goes off the rails and how other factors, including interest group reactions, exert an influence on what is expected to be an unbiased, fact-driven process. Read the rest here 10:30

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s limited entry scheme for Maine Shrimp Fishery postponed

Regulators are taking the possibility of a limited entry program for Maine’s shuttered shrimp fishery off the table for now. The Northern Shrimp Section is postponing the development of the plan until next summer. The group has been looking at ways to manage the future of the fishery, including the possibility of allowing fewer fishermen to participate. The shrimp section is meeting on Dec. 7 to set specifications for the 2016 shrimp fishing season. A spokeswoman for the section says it is unlikely there will be a season at all in 2016. Link 09:48

Federal regulators are eyeing a possible moratorium on eel fishing in Delaware waters

The National Marine Fisheries Service is reviewing a referral from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that found Delaware out of compliance with the interstate management plan for American eel, whose numbers are depleted.If the national agency determines that Delaware failed to carry out its responsibilities, and that the measures the state failed to implement are necessary for conservation, then it must declare a moratorium on eel fishing in Delaware waters. A determination must be made by Sept. 18. link 10:24