Tag Archives: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

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

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