Tag Archives: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Gov’t Is Wiping Out the Lobster Population, But Blaming the Fishermen

Lobstermen along much of the New England coast breathed sighs of relief the morning of August 9, when they awoke to discover that, contrary to expectations, a regulatory commission decided not to impose new limits on lobster catches from New Hampshire to Connecticut. Despite this momentary breather, though, the threat of future arbitrary traps looms. But the decrease in lobsters along the New England coast is not the result to over-fishing — it’s all thanks to previous “feel good” government regulations.The meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission took place August 8. Not in New England, of course, where the lobstermen and their primary clients live and work, but in — yeah, you guessed it — Washington, D.C.. .,,, In fact, according to fishermen on site, the real problem stems from previous federal and regional multi-state regulations that have decreased the fish catch — and, as a result, increased the fish population — around New England. click here to read the op-ed 15:59

Our View: Federal fishery decision undermines management

Years of measured, responsible attempts to improve the effectiveness of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in these dynamic and troubled waters are challenged by a new threat: the secretary of Commerce, the next to last stop (before the president himself) in the chain of command for fishery management. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, known as the “King of Bankruptcy” for his investment strategy, overruled at the end of July a decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, potentially undermining the cooperative management of near-shore fisheries of the 15 coastal states from Maine to Florida. click here to read the op-ed 09:38

L.I. Sound lobstermen avoid regulatory pincers

Lobstermen working Long Island Sound dodged new limits on their fishery last week when federal regulators failed to adopt restrictions aimed at reversing a decades-long decline in the lobster population. An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted down additional management measures, including a reduction in the size of lobster that could be harvested and a shorter season. “We are ecstatic,” said Mike Kalaman, a Norwalk lobstermen who believes the population is returning on its own, thanks to cleaner water and natural cycles. “We keep telling them that what’s in place is working,” Kalaman said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It’s fixing itself.” The decision by the American Lobster Management Board to defeat fishing restrictions was unusual; the board almost always adopts new management measures. The proposal on the table, developed by experts after months of research and deliberation, failed after numerous votes by a divided board. click here to read the story 08:20

RI And MA Lobstermen At Odds With Regulators Over Conservation Effortsclick here to read the story

No new rules for declining southern New England lobstering

An interstate panel that manages fisheries voted on Tuesday against a plan to try to preserve the declining southern New England lobster population with new fishing restrictions.The New England lobster fishery is based largely in Maine, where the catch has soared to new heights in recent years. But the population has collapsed off Connecticut, Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and New York’s Long Island as waters have warmed in those areas. An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission considered a host of new restrictions about lobster fishing in southern New England on Tuesday and chose to shoot the plan down.,, “It’s time to think a little differently about how we are managing lobsters in southern New England,” board member Peter Burns said. “We know there are things we can do,” (it was a lively discussion!) click here to read the story 18:38

New regulations are aimed at boosting lobster population as Black Sea Bass flourish!

Bart Mansi goes out most every day at 4:00 A.M. to tend to his hundreds of lobster pots. What he brings back often depends on what federal regulators allow him to haul in. These days he doesn’t catch enough to fill the tanks at his Guilford Lobster Pound. “We used to ship them all over,” said Mansi. “Ship them to Maine, Canada, all over. But now the worm turned and we’re buying from them now.” Manzi says lobstermen on Long Island sound once numbered 7-hundred now only about a dozen remain and he’s concerned stricter federal regulations could sink their livelihood even more. “Unfortunately other states are going to be making decisions for us,” On Tuesday the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will vote on new rules on harvesting size, seasonal closures to fishing areas, and reducing the number of traps to try to boost the lobster population in southern New “We’re not the problem,” said Mansi. He believes predators are the real problem. Video, click here to read the story 14:05

Fluke-catching quota costing fishermen thousands

Dozens of commercial fishermen say they are losing out on pay after they reached their state-imposed limit on how many fluke they are allowed to catch. Captain Roy Diehl says he and dozens of other commercial fluke fishermen are docked because they caught their allowed quota for the July-August season just two weeks after it opened. He says he blames the 30 percent quota reduction set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for this year. “What it does is it takes seven weeks of income out of everybody’s paycheck for the year,” says Diehl. “It’s pretty tough because there’s a lot of fluke out there and we can’t have them.” Video, read the story here 22:51

Trump administration steps in on fishing limits, and the implications could ripple

“The commission is deeply concerned about the near-term impact on our ability to end overfishing on the summer flounder stock as well as the longer-term ability for the commission to effectively conserve numerous other Atlantic coastal shared resources,” Douglas Grout, the commission’s chair, said in a statement. “New Jersey makes a compelling argument that the measures it implemented this year, despite increasing catch above the harvest target, will likely reduce total summer flounder mortality in New Jersey waters to a level consistent with the overall conservation objective,” Chris Oliver, assistant administrator of fisheries at NOAA, wrote the commission in a letter on behalf of Ross. The move infuriated commissioners and fishing officials throughout the area, as well as the region’s NOAA officials. “Ross was brilliant in his decision,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance in New Jersey, which represents thousands of recreational fishermen across the country. “The Trump administration has challenged a broken fishery management system in this country, and I applaud them for doing it.” click here to read the story 10:10

This year, a welcome switch on bait supply for Maine lobstermen

Bait freezers along the coast are full of herring and pogies, and even alewives, which means that bait is not only available, it is also much less expensive than last year when herring cost as much as 60 cents a pound, said Pat Keliher, commissioner of the state Department of Marine Resources. This year the lobstermen’s go-to bait costs about half as much. That’s still not a great price, Keliher said. Herring fetched about 18 cents a pound at the start of the 2015 lobstering season. “I won’t say we’re in great shape, but we are in a heck of a lot better shape than we were last year,” Keliher said. He attributed the strong start to basic supply-and-demand economics. click here to read the story 08:18

Chesapeake Bay fishery to keep deteriorating unless nutrients from land are addressed

The March Bay Journal 2017 commentary, Don’t let menhaden become a case of could have, should have, would have, laments the decline in Bay menhaden populations and blames the reduced number of predatory “sport” fish on Omega Protein’s harvest (click here). The Atlantic States Marine fisheries Commission is quite clear this year that “Atlantic menhaden are neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing” (click here). In Maryland, juvenile menhaden are sampled annually through the Estuarine Juvenile Finfish Survey. The index of juvenile menhaden has been low since 1992, and “environmental conditions seem to be a major factor driving recruitment.” (click here). Something other than overfishing must contribute to, or even be responsible for, reduced Bay menhaden populations. I contend that the primary cause of depleted finfish stocks, including bottom-feeding fish like croaker that do not eat menhaden, and the menhaden themselves, is poor water quality, not overfishing. click here to read the story  12:17

Garden State officials make their case to feds as fluke battle rages on

With New Jersey’s summer flounder fishing industry on the line, Garden State officials made their case to fisheries on Tuesday afternoon. In a hearing with the federal agency, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection officials argued that the state’s regulations for summer flounder (or fluke) fishing reach conservation equivalency with new federal regulations. The cornerstone of New Jersey’s argument: That the state’s proposed regulations will actually preserve more of the summer flounder stock than the measures being put forth by the feds. Tuesday’s call was closed to the press, but in a statement following the call NJDEP spokesperson Bob Considine described it as a “good discussion.” click here to read the story 08:37

The Bunker Resurgence: The Good News Beyond Recent Fish Kills

According to Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Arlington, Virginia, “Results of the 2015 stock assessment indicate that the [menhaden] stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring.”Joe Warren, an associate professor with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, agrees. Professor Warren’s lab uses acoustics to estimate the biomass (weight) of menhaden in the Peconic River and Flanders Bay. That’s essentially the same technology recreational fishermen employ using fishfinders.,,, Warren further observed that each of the surveys encountered anywhere from five to 25 schools that could range from hundreds to tens of thousands of fish. The professor cited anecdotal evidence that there are more bunker in New York waters as humpback whales off the Atlantic coast on the south side of Long Island have been observed feeding on bunker during the past several years. click here to read the story 15:37

Hearing on new shrimp rules draws tiny crowd in Ellsworth

Fishermen barely outnumbered representatives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last Thursday at a public hearing in City Hall on proposed rule changes that would reshape shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Three fishermen — John Williams and Ricky Trundy, both of Stonington, and James West of Sorrento — offered comments on a proposed amendment to the ASMFC fisheries management plan for northern shrimp. Department of Marine Resources External Affairs Director Terry Stockwell and Resource Management Coordinator Trisha Cheney dutifully recorded those comments on behalf of the ASMFC. Although a somewhat larger crowd was on hand for a hearing the previous evening in Augusta, the sparse audience reflected the state of the fishery from Downeast waters.  click here to read the story 12:34

Inside the Multi-million-Dollar World of Eel Trafficking

The alleged kingpin of one of the biggest domestic wildlife smuggling operations ever to hit the East Coast is exactly where you’d expect to find him on a rainy evening in early May: firmly planted in a swivel chair at a big green metal desk inside his renovated Quonset hut on Foster Street, in Ellsworth, Maine. At this post Bill Sheldon waits day and night for fishermen to come and fill his bowl with writhing masses of baby eels. The 72-year-old fisherman wears glasses, a blue flannel shirt, jeans, duck boots, and a brown L.L. Bean baseball cap. His cell phone goes quack, quack, quack when it rings. The sign above his head reads, “Buying Glass Eels Here,” with the day’s market price: $1,250 per pound. (so much more about the fishery in this article than “trafficking”) click here to read the story 09:26

A little story about my day at sea yesterday

So we leave to go fishing at 0330 with an observer that the government forces us to take. Now the young man is a likable enough guy who I have no problem with. The problem is we are forced to take these people with no exception. When they tell you they are going to put one on your boat you either take them or you deal with the wrath of NOAA law enforcement. So we go out with the plan of going to catch some scup, fluke and sea bass to unload in Connecticut. We had some nice scup the day before and figured we would get CT’s allowance which is a whopping 1200 pounds of scup, 75 lbs. of fluke and 10 sea bass in count. So we make a couple of tows and come up a bit light on the scup but have the fluke and sea bass. We go and unload ion CT. and on the way there, which happens to be a 2 hour+ steam each way I am informed that the scup that we landed the previous day which had been paying around 60 cents per pound had dropped to 10 to 15 cents per pound. Not even worth the fuel to catch. WONDERFUL. So we go all the way to CT. , unload our catch and head back another 2+ hours for home. After we get back to our dock, I and my crewman are cleaning up the boat and we notice someone on the dock with a camera taking pictures of us as he walks by. No big deal.,,, Click here to read the story 10:24

New Jersey has good reasons to resist federal rules on fluke

If federal fisheries managers got fan mail from some flounder these days, would it side with their catch limits or New Jersey’s defiant alternate rules? State and local officials and the N.J. congressional delegation pushed hard against this year’s federal plan to reduce the catch of summer flounder, also called fluke, by 30 percent. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission wanted to require fish to be an inch bigger to be kept — 19 inches in the ocean and nearby waters and 18 inches in Delaware Bay. Since last year’s limits were already tough on fishers and marine businesses, the plan prompted an uproar. Rep. Frank LoBiondo said “unelected bureaucrats in Washington use questionable methodologies and outdated science to cut us off at the knees.” He and fellow Rep. Frank Pallone introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent the new flounder quotas from taking effect. click here to read the story 10:28

Feds threaten shutdown of N.J. Fluke fishery as showdown escalates

Call it the Great Flounder War of 2017. A simmering battle between New Jersey recreational fisherman and the federal agency governing fishing along the Atlantic Coast has now escalated — with potentially disastrous consequences for the fishermen. In a teleconference on Thursday morning, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) officially found New Jersey to be out of compliance with federal regulations.  The matter is now headed to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross for a final decision. If Ross agrees with the recommendation, both recreational and commercial fluke fishing could end up banned altogether in the Garden State. ,, And here’s where things get really sticky: If Sec. Ross finds New Jersey to be out of compliance, he’d have the option of imposing a moratorium on summer flounder fishing in the state — a moratorium that would also apply to commercial fishermen, who thus far have been in compliance with the feds. (Earlier this year, the state’s commercial fishermen agreed to lower fishing quotas imposed by ASMFC.)  click here to read the story 08:19

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission rejects NJ’s proposed flounder regulations

The drama surrounding New Jersey’s summer flounder regulations continued Monday, as a regional fisheries management board rejected the state’s adopted regulations for the popular marine catch just days before the fishing season is scheduled to start. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a regional agency that helps set fishing quotas for the 15 East Coast states, found New Jersey’s regulations for the upcoming season were not sufficiently strict to reduce the catches needed to keep the stock healthy and compensate for past years of overfishing. New Jersey’s Marine Fisheries Council adopted those regulations last week, in anticipation that they might be an acceptable compromise. The commission’s rejection means the state is “out of compliance,” a designation that could prompt federal regulators to shut down the entire flounder fishery for recreational and commercial anglers. click here to read the story 15:14

New Jersey: Fisheries Council decides on flounder limits for season

The State Marine Fisheries Council decided Wednesday to go along with the new 2017 federal regulations for flounder fishing. The regulation, approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, allows a catch of no more than three fish at 18 inches or more for recreational fishermen. Flounder season begins May 25 and continues for 104 days to Sept 6. “It’s the best deal for fishermen,” said acting council Chairman Dick Herb. Click here to read the rest, we will update this as we find the articles 10:04

Sharp Cut to ’17 Fluke Harvest – NY Commercial harvesters are allowed to land fluke in state waters year round, subject to a daily limit of 50 pounds. Click here to read the story 15:04

New restrictions seek to save Long Island Sound lobsters

A multistate fisheries commission is poised to slap more restrictions on Long Island Sound lobster fishing in another effort to stabilize the numbers of crustaceans. An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last week agreed to change the rules in hopes of slowing the continuing decline of lobster in southern New England. The numbers have been falling due to warmer water caused by climate change. “The goal is to preserve what there is,” said Mark Alexander, assistant fisheries manager for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a voting member on the fisheries commission. “It’s a disgrace,” said Roger Frate, a veteran Darien lobsterman, referring to the commission’s proposed restrictions. Mike Kalaman, a Norwalk lobsterman, said fishermen prefer no additional restrictions. Still, he said the proposed 5 percent egg production goal is better than some of the commission’s more stringent proposals.  Click here to read the story 08:14

Pallone Supports Potential Compromise on Summer Flounder Cuts

This week, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) expressed support for a potential compromise between the State of New Jersey and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on Summer Flounder Cuts. ASMFC agreed to consider a proposal by the State for conservationally-equivalent management measures for the 2017 summer flounder fishery, and is expected to reach a decision in the next two weeks. In exchange for a 104-day fishing season and the 3 bag limit, the size limit would be decreased to 18 inches. The Commission postponed a decision on that until the next meeting of the Interstate Fisheries Management Program in two weeks. Pallone and Senator Booker sent a letter to NOAA Fisheries about its proposal to reduce the ABC recreational and commercial quotas for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. The New Jersey lawmakers requested that NOAA Fisheries postpone any decision on reducing summer flounder quotas until it conducts a new benchmark summer flounder assessment.  Click here to read the letter 14:37

New rules aim to boost herring supply prized as lobster bait

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission adopted many of the same measures that Maine implemented last year to try to “stretch out” the limited quota of inshore Atlantic herring into late summer, when lobster boat captains in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are clamoring for what many fishermen say is the best, and formerly cheapest, kind of lobster bait. The commission voted to allow regulators to set weekly herring quotas, to limit fishing to certain days of the week, and to give the three states that regulate the inshore herring fishery in the southern Gulf of Maine the ability to limit or ban the use of so-called “carrier vessels” that transfer herring landed by a licensed boat so it can keep fishing instead of heading back to port to unload its haul. click here to read the story 08:35

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Alexandria, Virginia May 8 – 11, 2017 – Listen Live

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet at The Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, May 8 – 11, 2017  The agenda is subject to change. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings.  Click here for details, Click here for webinar 12:37

Proposed new rules for lobstering up for vote amid decline in southern New England

Scientists have said populations of lobsters off of Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts have declined as waters have warmed. A board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to vote on new management measures Monday and Tuesday. Fishing managers are considering tools like trap reductions, changes to the legal harvesting size of lobsters and seasonal closures to try to preserve the population. Some lobster fishermen have opposed the possibility of new measures, saying such a move would kill off what remains of a once-vibrant fishery. “Any further reductions in traps would be hard to accommodate, given that there are so few fishermen left in (southern) Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. click here to read the story 11:26

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