Tag Archives: Commerce Department

Lawsuit seeks to protect whales, turtles from California gillnets

Oceana filed a lawsuit seeking to force U.S. fisheries managers to implement plans for restricting the number of whales and turtles permitted to be inadvertently snared in drift gillnets used for catching swordfish off California’s coast. The proposed rule, endorsed in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, would place numerical limits on “bycatch” of whales and other marine creatures, and suspend swordfish gillnet operations if any of the caps are exceeded.  The regulation was expected to gain final approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service. But it was withdrawn last month after the Commerce Department agency determined the cost to the commercial fishing industry outweighed conservation benefits, agency spokesman Michael Milstein said on Thursday. click here to read the story 17:11 Geoff Shester, a senior scientist at Oceana, who was “furious” when he found out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had decided to against adopting the rule. (lmao!) click here to read 17:13

Feds (No EDF and Pew) complain new Red Snapper season will hurt species’ recovery

The U.S. Commerce Department says recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico will have 39 more days to fish federal waters for red snapper,,,However, an environmental group and a charter captains’ association estimate that private anglers will take nearly triple their allocated 3.4 million-pound (1.5 million kilogram) quota of the sport and panfish under the plan, potentially canceling next year’s recreational season entirely.,,“The current system is failing private anglers and they deserve a fix,” Mike Jennings, president of the Charter Fisherman’s Association said in a prepared statement.,,, Earlier Wednesday, his group and the Environmental Defense Fund had emailed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, asking him to delay any decision until he had good scientific estimates of the likely catch. click here to read the story 16:45

Helping US Shrimpers, New Trump order might hit India’s shrimp exports

The $5.5-billion Indian seafoodexport market might face new restrictions in America. The new Donald Trump government, in an executive order, is set to enforce countervailing duties strictly on countries held to be dumping goods. America is the major importer of Indian seafood, with a share of 28.5 per cent in 2015-16, for 153,695 tonnes worth $1.3 billion. Frozen shrimp is the principal item of export to the US, with a share of 94 per cent in value terms. Another executive order directs their department of commerce and the Office of the US Trade representative to examine every form of trade abuse and non-reciprocal practice that contribute to the US’ large and persistent trade deficit, largest of any major nation in 2016 at $500 billion. Within 90 days, both these agencies are to give a comprehensive report to the President on the causes. “The US is the only country which is imposing an anti-dumping duty on Indian shrimp, to give level playing to its producers. click to continue reading the story 19:30

Mayor Jon Mitchell: New Bedford would be great home for Northeast Fisheries Science Center

If NOAA Fisheries should decide to move the Northeast Fisheries Science Center out of Woods Hole, Mayor Jon Mitchell said New Bedford would be just right for a new home. Mitchell calls the city “the best place in the Northeast by far.” For about a year, the Commerce Department, which contains NOAA, has been assessing the adequacy and the condition of the various buildings that constitute the laboratory. NOAA spokeswoman Teri Frady said repairs, renovations or replacement are all possible options and any definitive direction is still a long way off. Read the article here 08:00

20 Years Ago: Commercial-Fishing Halt Is Urged for Georges Bank

nefmc logoWhile some fishing could continue, the council, the New England Fishery Management Council, directed its staff to come up with measures that would reduce the catch of cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder, the principal species sought on the Georges Bank, to as close to zero as practical. Read more here  08:06

What happened to the price of shrimp?

Since 2010 the price of shrimp has more than doubled, forcing giant Darden Restaurants to try to divest themselves of Red Lobster and their “endless shrimp” buffet. Over 90% of all shrimp consumed in the US comes from outside the US, with most imported shrimp grown in filth ponds flooded with antibiotics. In spite of this, Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) has been devastating global shrimp farm populations, and the disease isn’t the only thing pushing shrimp prices higher. The Commerce Department recently ruled that China, Ecuador, India, Malaysia and Vietnam have all unfairly subsidized shrimp exported to the United States. Read [email protected]  19:39

State of Alaska Backs Feds in Lawsuit over Fisheries Management – Video

A group of fish processors, permit holders and crew members are suing the federal government over a measure giving the Department of Commerce broad authority to manage and conserve coastal fisheries. The 312-member United Cook Inlet Drift Association says the state’s salmon management plan is inadequate. The group is suing to make the federal government the lead regulator in state waters. Read [email protected]  08:53

How Government shutdown will Affect NOAA Emloyees and other agency’s

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based in Silver Spring,  will lose about half of its staff in the face of a shutdown. According to a  recent Commerce Department document outlining its shutdown plan, roughly 6,600  NOAA employees would stay on the job. Most of those workers would come from the National Weather Service, which is  required to continue functioning because its work can identify “imminent threats  to protect life and property.” In addition, about 500 employees from the  National Marine Fisheries Service, which regulates and enforces laws related to  marine wildlife, would also stay on the job. However, even with those exceptions, approximately 5,400 NOAA employees —  about 45 percent of the agency’s workforce — would be sent home. [email protected] 20:18  4 comments

Mass. delegation calling SBA loans aid for the New England fishing industry.

The entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation has asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide financial assistance to New England fishermen who have been affected by reductions in annual catch limits and groundfish stocks. The Commerce Department last fall issued a declaration of disaster for the Northeast groundfish fishery, saying that it could require $100 million in federal aid. [email protected]  08:27

Lawmakers join push for SBA fish aid – Gloucester Daily Times 13:50

Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker answers questions in controversy-free hearings for Commerce confirmation

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is not on the committee, said Thursday that she has a meeting on tap with Pritzker after the Memorial Day recess. She’s undecided about how she’ll vote, wanting to talk to her about Alaskan fisheries, something Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, brought up during the hearing.  It was among dozens of queries Pritzker fielded – involving trade, tourism, jobs, education, employment skills, patents, killer storms and even electromagnetic spectrum resources. continued

Fishing interests begin to map strategy with joint meeting of the Mayor’s Ocean and Fisheries Council / Federal Fishing Advisory Board.

NEW BEDFORD — When fisheries regulation gets a makeover in the next year or two, the New England fishery intends to get into the debate early to impress on regulators how badly served the region has been under existing rules.sct logo That was the theme struck by Mayor Jon Mitchell Monday as he co-chaired a joint meeting of the Mayor’s Ocean and Fisheries Council with Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., representing the Federal Fishing Advisory Board.  continued

Editorial: Feds must hold Commerce to law on fishery aid

gdt iconDisappointing, embarrassing, offensive — all of those words can be applied to the fact that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett largely ignored Gov. Deval Patrick’s call for executive action to overturn the dire NOAA limit cuts now threatening the Northeast groundfishery. continued

Gloucester fishing community seeks relief from catch limits – Gloucester’s historic industry. Uncertain future

A few weeks ago, second-generation commercial fisherman B.G. Brown almost gave up. He had learned how much fish he can legally catch in the coming year. The numbers were shockingly low. “I was ready to throw in the towel,” Brown told a crowd of about 40 local business people, political leaders, concerned community members, and fellow fishermen that gathered last week to discuss the uncertain future of Gloucester’s historic industry. continued

60 Massachusetts Lawmakers urge Governor Patrick to seek fishing aid from Obama, his personal friend from their Chicago days

A group of more than 60 state lawmakers, including many with districts far from the sea, asked Gov. Deval Patrick Thursday to appeal directly to President Obama, his personal friend from their Chicago days, to grant emergency relief from impending cutbacks in commercial fishery landings widely feared to render the commercial fishing industry “non-viable.”President Obama has kept a stony silence in the face of the growing crisis once he appointed Lubchenco to administer the nation’s oceans and fisheries. And he failed to respond to requests for her dismissal from Reps. Barney Frank, John Tierney, Walter Jones and Sen. Scott Brown. Frank, now retired, and Tierney, whose district includes Gloucester, are Democrats. Jones, who represents the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Brown, defeated last November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, are Republicans. continued

My View: Science, sense needed in fishing’s ‘human crisis’ – Scott W. Lang

The human crisis in the groundfishing industry is a real crisis. It is not contrived, it is not looming, it is not a threat, it is here.

Read more

Jesus Christ! Not Cape Pond Ice. Cape Pond Ice on the block

Scott Memhard cited the decision by NOAA against allowing the industry a second year of relief via interim catch levels as forcing his hand. The first year of interim limits held the reduction in Gulf of Maine cod to only 22 percent  but without the same for the 2013 fishing year beginning May 1, landings will be compressed by 77 percent. And with $1 million in debt coming due, Memhard said he has little choice. Read more

Catch shares tied to cod losses – State fisheries chief cites lack of controls under NOAA system

The 2010 catch share commodification of the Northeast groundfishery, hailed by advocates including NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco as a sure path to restoring overfished stocks and profitability for the fleet, has had the opposite effect on Gulf of Maine cod, according to the state’s director of marine fisheries.

The habit of bigger offshore boats to accumulate catch shares in Gulf of Maine cod and capitalize on pulses of the cod with landings far larger than 800 pounds has “significantly contributed to declines in local abundance” of the essential fish for the day boats, state fisheries chief Paul Diodati said in a memo sent Feb. 5 to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission and obtained by the Times. Read more here

 

Fishermen look to White House – John Bullard, NOAA’s Northeast regional administrator based at Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park, scoffed at that idea.

By default and past experience, what slim hope remains to relieve the declared federal fisheries disaster before it consumes the surviving core of the groundfishing fleet in Gloucester and other New England ports has shifted from lepcohanadership at the Commerce Department to the White House.  ”I have not heard one word about fisheries from the president,”said Paul “Sasquatch” Cohan, the Gloucester fisherman who announced at the Warren meeting in Gloucester that he had nothing left to fight with. “I wouldn’t give up, but now I have to give up,” said Cohan, who operated a gillnet day boat. Read more

Senators press for fish disaster aid – Northeast groundfishery, blue crab and oyster fishery of Mississippi, Chinnock salmon fishery of Alaska

”We believe that it is the responsibility of the administration, after declaring these disasters, to request the funding to respond to them,” the senators wrote. “Until funding is made available for these declarations, the affected fishermen will continue to struggle during a critical time of need. For those that are suffering and the fishing communities they live in, time is of the essence. They simply cannot wait for another funding cycle for help to arrive.”

Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand of New York, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mark Begich of Alaska,Elizabeth Warren and William Cowan, Susan Collins of Maine, Thad Cochran  and Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska., Independent Angus King.

In the House, Congressman John Tierney, whose district includes all of Cape Ann, announced Friday an agreement with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on a different solution the same problem. Joining him in the initiative were Congressmen Ed Markey, William Keating, and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, and David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, Rhode Island Democrats.

Read more here

Phase II – Feds enter new phase of fishery rules probe

Inspector General Todd Zinnser

In a memo Monday, that office notified the top manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that it was beginning its review of ‘‘controls and processes’’ in a management system installed in 2010. The system established strict catch quotas for each species of bottom-dwelling groundfish in New England, and gave fishermen individual shares of those quotas. Fishermen then pooled their shares together in groups called sectors. Read more here

Editorial: Fed lawmakers miss key point on fishery ‘disaster’

That’s the fact that, while Superstorm Sandy brought unforeseen cleanup costs, the economic disaster recognized by the aptly named Blank and her Commerce and NOAA colleagues wasn’t unforeseen at all. And despite claims to the contrary in her own disaster declaration, it is not merely a case of declining stocks and other natural factors. Read more

Govt to review Chinese shrimp imports-Shrimp farmers are preparing for conflict with the U.S.

Govt to review Chinese shrimp imports Read more

Shrimp farmers are preparing for conflict with the U.S. Read more

Seafood industry to fight US shrimpers’ countervailing duties petition Read more

Watch video

House plan guts aid for fisheries

Two newly released U.S. House Rules Committee amendments combine to roughly match the Senate appropriation totaling $60 billion for Superstorm Sandy relief, but virtually eliminate the $150 million for fisheries disaster aid amanatthewheelimed at providing relief to the Northeast groundfishery, including fishermen working out of Gloucester. One amendment for $17 billion, filed by Rep. Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, contains no money for the fisheries disasters of Massachusetts, four other New England states and New York, as well as Mississippi’s oyster fishery and Alaska’s Chinook salmon fishery. Read more

Editorial: Extending interim fish catch limits has benefits for all – Gloucester Daily Times

Simply put, if our own federal government is considering any type of move that would virtually shut down an entire industry, it had better be absolutely certain that an such industry poses either such a threat to public safety or, conceivably, the environment, that it would pose a public hazard to allow it to continue.  And commercial fishing, of course, falls far, far short of any such risk. Read More

Flotsam and Jetsam – Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA December 19, 2012

According to Wikipedia“Flotsam is floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo. Jetsam is part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposefully cast overboard or jettisoned to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore.”

They are used together to indicate potentially valuable materials floating on the seas’ surface.,This seems an apt title for periodic FishNets in which I address several issues that should be of value to anyone with an interest in oceans and fisheries in a somewhat abbreviated manner.

The forage fish fake out

Peter Baker gets a spanking.

And the Conservation Law Foundation is always there for the fishermen – just ask ‘em(Or better yet, ask a fisherman.)

Peter Shelley gets a spanking.

But then hope springs eternal

John Bullard steps up.

Jane Lubchenco – soon to be gone but not soon forgotten head of NOAA

So long, Dr Jane.

  http://www.fishnet-usa.com/Flotsam_Jetsam_2012.pdf   http://fishnet-usa.com/

The Big Green Money Machine – how anti-fishing activists are taking over NOAA  http://www.fishtruth.net/

Your View: UMD administration needs to explain changes at SMAST – southcoasttoday.com

By Harvey B. Mickelson
Throughout the 50 years I have been involved in the fishing industry, nothing has been more meaningful than the establishment of the School for Marine Sciences and Technology.

Prior to that event and the arrival of Dr. Brian Rothschild and his associates, the domestic fishing industry was subjected to the science used for assessing fishing stock sizes and their use in fishing conservation plans. The law called for the fishery management councils to use the best available scientific information, and in the days before SMAST that meant that whatever the National Marine Fisheries determined to be the proper approach was indeed the gospel. Fishermen and the industry generally were put through management measures that not only didn’t make sense but ended up killing millions of pounds of seafood product, fish and scallops, subjected vessels to huge fines and loss of vessels, and resulted in a highly confrontational relationship between industry and government. Read More

Editorial: Feds cannot allow exiting NOAA chief any transition role

There cSalazar+MMS+Director+Testify+House+Hearing+enFuUMv-6cEcan be no celebration, only a sense of profound relief over the resignation and coming exit of Jane Lubchenco as chief administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And that sense of relief should not allow either commercial fishermen or our federal lawmakers to relax their guards between now and the February date when Lubchenco will formally bow out of her role. Indeed, the downside of Lubchenco’s plan to leave her six-figure post is that the Department of Commerce is essentially allowing her to do so on her own terms as if she should have had any choice after her policies reduced one of America’s oldest and most noble small-business industries to an admitted state of “economic disaster” in New England during her four short years at the helm.  Read More

Commerce secretary: Return $544K in fish fines – Bloomberg

BOSTON (AP) — The acting U.S. Commerce Secretary on Friday ordered federal regulators to return about $544,000 in unjust fines collected from 14 fishermen or fishing businesses, most of whom worked Northeast waters.  New Bedford fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael, who will receive $17,500 back after Blank’s order, said he’s pleased to get anything, given the industry’s ongoing struggles. But he said the bigger victory is accountability for fisheries’ officers. “Even if I didn’t get any money, the world is watching them,” he said. “Before nobody was watching them. … Before they were like the Gestapo. Before you were (automatically) guilty, the party was over.” http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-12-14/commerce-secretary-return-544k-in-fish-fines

Redress for NOAA law cases- Commerce Department on Friday closed the book on past violations

“After months of unacceptable delay and stonewalling of Congress, the Commerce Department has released a report that found serious misconduct by NOAA personnel,” said U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. “Some of this misconduct happened during the current administration, yet no one has been fired or even demoted. This report provides more context to Administrator Lubchenco’s resignation and makes her planned service through February untenable.” http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x520560721/Redress-for-NOAA-law-cases

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE SPECIAL MASTER CONCERNING APPLICATIONS FOR REVIEW OF NOAA ENFORCEMENT ACTION

Click for The Report