Tag Archives: Conservation Law Foundation

Maine political leaders join lobster haulers to rally against new rules

Gov. Janet Mills and almost all of Maine’s congressional delegation will participate in a rally Sunday protesting new federal regulations aimed at protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale, but also could cause large-scale disruption in this state’s lobster industry. Maine lobstermen support protecting the whales, whose numbers have dwindled to fewer than 420 during the past decade, but say that the new regulations,,, >click to read< 12:56

Multi-organization effort believes Cashes Ledge deserves to be permanently protected

The team’s efforts of four years ago, including holding roundtables and giving talks across the region, were undertaken in hopes Cashes Ledge would be awarded a monument designation. The effort failed, but it did play a part in the creation, three years ago, of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the only national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Lamb, who now works with the Witman Lab and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on various marine issues, believes Cashes Ledge deserves the same protection, especially since the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of salt water in the world.  >click to read<09:37

North Atlantic Right Whale – New restrictions placed on New England fishing industry to protect whales

Fishermen across New England are facing new restrictions after a panel of experts convened by the federal government agreed on Friday to a plan to step up protection of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The group of federal and state officials, scientists, fishermen and environmental advocates created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration capped a four-day meeting in Providence by reaching consensus on a plan that aims to reduce entanglements in fishing gear, which is the leading cause of injuries to the whale and deaths. >click to read<18:20

New England Stakeholders Agree On Recommendations For Reducing Risk Of Right Whale Entanglements – >click to read<11:16

CLF OVERRULED! New Fishing Rights in Gulf of Maine Upheld by Judge

A federal judge upheld a rule Monday that opens up a portion of the western Gulf of Maine to commercial and recreational fishing for the first time. The Conservation Law Foundation had challenged the rule last year, claiming the National Marine Fisheries Service wrongly prioritized economic considerations over its conservation duty when it reduced the protected area in that portion of the Gulf by about 25%. While the rule offered habitat protection in the eastern Gulf of Maine for the first time, the conservation group said the agency and the New England Regional Council should have closed more of the Gulf to fishing. >click to read<17:28

Fishermen Want More Time to Negotiate Over Wind

Lanny Dellinger, a Newport, R.I.-based lobsterman and chairman of the Fishermen’s Advisory Board, said fishermen are being rushed to accept a compensation offer for the harm they say will be caused by the Vineyard Wind offshore project. “It’s like being pushed into the (real estate) closing without seeing the appraisal,” Dellinger said.
There’s no doubt that the project developer is in a hurry. Vineyard Wind needs approval from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) soon so that construction can begin on the 84-turbine project and qualify for a federal tax credit. >click to read<10:38

Vineyard Wind, Con Groups Reach Historic Agreement to Protect Right Whales

Vineyard Wind and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and Conservation Law Foundation today entered into an unprecedented agreement to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Under the historic agreement, Vineyard Wind will institute a variety of protective measures to keep right whales safe while installing and operating turbines at its proposed 84-turbine project off the coast of Massachusetts. Harnessing offshore wind is a key step in transitioning the nation away from dirty, polluting fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. (Plenty of Fraudsters here!) >click to read<13:55

Commercial Fishermen, Sport fishers Divided on Plans for More Offshore Wind

Commercial fishermen say the wind-energy projects planned for southern New England, such as the South Fork Wind Farm, are the latest threats to their income after decades of quotas and regulations “I don’t like the idea of the ocean being taken away from me after I’ve thrown so many big-dollar fish back in the water for the last 30 years, praying I’d get it back in the end,” said Dave Aripotch, owner of a 75-foot trawl-fishing boat based in Montauk, N.Y. Dave Monti of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association said the submerged turbine foundations at the Block Island Wind Farm created artificial reefs, boosting fish populations and attracting charter boats like his. >click to read<10:07

In Battle Over Whale, Judge Tears Up Agency Stonewalling

A federal judge opened the door Thursday for environmentalists to bolster claims over a lobster fishery they blame for the declining population of an endangered whale. Ordering the National Marine Fisheries Service to produce discovery, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said the Endangered Species Act allows the agency’s challengers to use evidence outside the administrative record. “In order to accurately assess the alleged crisis of these cetaceans, the court will benefit from a record that reflects the actual, ongoing effects of the lobster fishery on the species,” the 16-page ruling says. The cetaceans at issue are called the North Atlantic right whale. There were roughly 455 right whales left as of 2016, and the Conservation Law Foundation says at least 18 of these have been killed since 2017. >click to read<16:28

Booker, Carper, Nelson Introduce Bicameral Bill to Establish Grant Program for Right Whale Conservation

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced a bill to protect the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. Booker is a member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper is the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Nelson is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce Committee, which oversees ocean policy. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), along with Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Bill Keating (D-MA), has introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives. >click to read<18:46

The High-Stakes Battle Over Obama’s Atlantic Ocean National Monument

Mining and drilling for oil are already banned in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, established by former president Barack Obama in 2016 as the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Within five years, too, all commercial fishing will be phased out – or, at least that was the plan. A federal judge is now weighing the fate of those protections in a lawsuit originally filed in March 2017 by a coalition of New England fishing groups – and it has led to a rare case of President Donald Trump defending his predecessor’s authority.  >click to read<10:27

Marine Monument Case Aligns Trump, Conservationists

Cautiously aligned with the government in support of America’s first marine monument, environmentalists urged a federal judge Monday to sink a challenge by fishing groups. Designated by President Barack Obama in September 2016, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument encompasses 4,913 square miles off the coast of New England. Cordoned off from oil and gas exploration, as well as commercial fishing, the seabed within the monuments boasts four underwater volcanoes and three canyons. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation and naturalist Zack Klyver had all intervened in the case,,, >click to read<14:08

New England Enviros Are Protesting A Clean Power Project!

Environmentalists in New England are voicing concern over a proposal that would provide an abundance of clean hydropower, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue every year. Charlie Baker, the moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, has worked relentlessly to reduce his state’s carbon footprint and is now looking to Canada for renewable energy sourced from a series of dams.,, If completed, the arrangement would power 1.2 million homes with 1,200 megawatts of low emission hydropower and reduce overall energy costs. >click to read<11:48

Opponents say Block Island wind farm is causing problems across prime fishing grounds

The five enormous turbines that have been generating electricity off Block Island over the past year are considered a model for the future of offshore wind. But the nation’s first ocean-based wind farm also has exposed what fishermen say are serious threats to them caused by scattering massive metal shafts and snaking underwater cables across prime fishing grounds.,,, Wind power companies have dismissed most of their concerns, and fishermen have become increasingly frustrated, saying that they’re being ignored.>click to read<09:38

Low numbers of endangered whales raise question about lobster industry impacts

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Mark Baumgartner said that to help the whales survive much longer, the ropes Maine lobstermen use to tend their traps have to be modified or even eliminated. And it’s not just for the whales’ sake. “I feel the industry is in jeopardy,” Baumgartner said.,,, Last month the Conservation Law Foundation’s Portland office filed a federal lawsuit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for violating the Endangered Species Act. >click to read< 12:10

Lobstermen pack meeting concerning right whales, possible gear changes at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum

Lobstermen from all over the state packed the Rockport Room at the Samoset Resort to overflowing Friday to hear about the potential for ropeless fishing and use of break-away lines to help save the endangered right whale. The panel discussion March 2 at the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum brought fishermen together with several experts including scientist Mark Baumgartner of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Amy Knowlton of the New England Aquarium and Mike Asaro of NOAA Fisheries. >click to read< 10:06

Conservation Law Foundation files Lawsuit to protect right whales

After a year of major losses for North Atlantic right whales, a local environmental advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service Thursday, arguing that the agency should do more to protect the critically endangered mammals.  But lawyers at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston, which filed the suit, argued that the agency should be doing more. “Regulators are not just morally mandated to act . . . they are also legally required to ensure fishing efforts do not cause harm to these animals,” said Emily Green, an attorney at the foundation. >click to read< 20:47

EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Effects and the Precautionary Principle – Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA

The following is taken from an OSPAR Commission (https://www.ospar.org/) report from 2008. It clearly shows that at the time when interest in offshore wind turbines was really starting to grow there was very little knowledge of, nor had much significant research been done on, the effects of electromagnetic fields on marine or estuarine species, and what little had been done was on mature organisms, with little or no attention given to immature stages. Background Document on potential problems associated with power cables other than those for oil and gas activities: Conclusions in regard to electromagnetic fields Our current knowledge about effects of electromagnetic fields on the marine environment, in particular fauna, is not sufficient. Only a few preliminary conclusions can be reached. click here to read the article 17:07

Trump Administration Facing Battle Over New England Marine Monument

“We will challenge in court any action to roll back the Coral Canyons and Seamounts monument and we expect to win,” said Priscilla Brooks, director of ocean conservation for the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation. But Jon Williams, owner of the Atlantic Red Crab Company in New Bedford, Mass., said he and other commercial fishermen who have harvested crabs and deep sea lobsters from the Coral Canyons region for decades are delighted with the Trump administration’s proposal. click here to read the story 08:22

Civil penalities from NOAA could be next for Carlos Rafael

Judge William Young’s judgment filed Wednesday appeared to be the finish line to Carlos Rafael’s case. Young, though, by ordering the forfeiture of four vessels and every permit associated with the Bull Dog, the Olivia and Rafaela, the Lady Patricia and the Southern Crusader II began a new ripple effect throughout the commercial fishing industry revealing some questions but very little answers. It’s likely NOAA will take center stage now that the Department of Justice has closed its case. NOAA can bring civil penalties to Rafael. click here to read the story 09:47

Storm brews over Maine’s monument offshore, too

Zinke has recommended that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – a 4,913-square-mile area of underwater canyons, thousand-year-old coral forests, and volcanic mountains on and beyond the southern edge of Georges Bank at the mouth of the Gulf of Maine – be opened to commercial fishing, a move proponents say would defeat its purpose.,, The heads of eight of the nation’s fisheries management councils – the industry-led bodies that implement fisheries regulations in federal waters – were already on record against the commercial fishing restrictions.,, Peter Shelley of the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental attorney who is watching the case closely, strongly disagrees. click here to read the story 08:35

“This is the stupidest thing I ever did,” ‘Codfather’ is sentenced to 46 months for skirting tax and fishing regulations

Carlos Rafael, the New Bedford, Mass. fishing magnate whose brash business style earned him the nickname “The Codfather,” was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Monday for tax evasion and flouting fishing quotas, a case that could impact the ability of hundreds of fishermen to continue working out of the port where he ran his illicit enterprise. In the federal courthouse in Boston, Rafael, 65, told US District Judge William G. Young he mislabeled more than 700,000 pounds of fish not out of greed, but to protect workers whose jobs were threatened by limits on dwindling cod stocks. click here to read the story 15:04

And just four years ago, we posted this article that should be revisited at this time. Carlos Rafael and His Fish Are the American Dreamclick here to read the story.

Owner of One of the Nation’s Largest Commercial Fishing Businesses Sentenced for Falsifying Records & Smuggling Proceeds Abroad, US Justice Dept. click here to read the presser

Hang him! Hang him high!

OK, OK, I get it! Carlos Rafael, aka, “The Codfather,” has done some pretty reprehensible things while amassing what seemingly is the largest percentage of ownership of the US multispecies groundfish fleet. I am not going to try to defend his actions, or his reasoning, but I would like to point out that there is plenty of guilt to go around and some people should not be so quick to point their finger at him alone. What is it that they say about casting the first stone? Apparently, among his sins is his aforementioned ownership of the largest fleet of multi-species groundfish vessels, as well as some scallop vessels. While this may be true, let us ponder what enabled, abetted, and allowed him to gain such an advantage over everyone else. At this point, he wasn’t breaking the law, he was only taking advantage of it, and of those who most fervently wanted it! click here to read the op-ed 09:27

Conservation Law Foundation submits victim impact statement in Carlos Rafael case

Within the past 10 days, the Conservation Law Foundation sent three letters to various individuals involved — either directly or indirectly — with the Carlos Rafael case. The foundation doesn’t represent any party directly, but its goal is to “use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy,” according to its website. CLF sees Rafael’s guilty plea in March to illegal fishing as infringing on its principles. click here to read the story 21:18

Cause of Action Digs In: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Designation: Some Stakeholders Are More Equal Than Others

This week we review the procedural history of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument (“Atlantic Monument” or “Monument”) designation, which was made by President Obama on September 15, 2016 (“Proclamation”), and show that certain, privileged, non-governmental entities were granted access to detailed information on the forthcoming monument and allowed input into the designation, while other stakeholders—notably those with specific legal authority, such as Regional Fishery Councils—were denied input and access.,,,  The following history, derived from the partial responses to CoA Institute’s FOIA requests and other publicly available documents, is illustrative: In March 2015, the Conservation Law Foundation (“CLF”) and Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”),,, click here to read the story. Hang onto your Sou’wester. 17:53

Advancing fishing rule aims to protect deep-sea coral in New England waters

Fishing trawlers bring in an average of $6.4 million annually to Bay State ports from fish scooped off seabeds 600 meters or more below the surface of New England waters. In an effort to save coral on the ocean floor, the New England Fisheries Management Council is advancing a proposed restriction on draggers and trawlers fishing at those depths. The council’s Habitat Committee signed off Tuesday on the proposal, which affect fishing operations in a roughly 25,000 square mile area. If it is passed by the full council it would need to go through the National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, before it would go into effect. Environmental groups Wild Oceans, Earthjustice, Pew Charitable Trusts and Conservation Law Foundation urged the council’s scientists to study an alternative proposal, which they said would protect more coral than the plan the council advanced. The council agreed to study the conservation groups’ proposal. click here to read the story 16:30

Not exactly a breeze: Offshore wind still faces challenges

Amid all of the challenges that could face offshore wind power along the East Coast — legal disputes from commercial fishing advocates, construction plans altered by whale migrations, President Donald Trump’s emphasis on revitalizing fossil fuels and more — some promising news for renewable industry supporters arrived in mid-March. That’s when a telling indication of how offshore wind power might fare under President Trump was delivered, after an uncertain, wait-and-see winter. Following months of silence about offshore wind, a statement by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke gave an early glimpse of the administration’s tone. click here to read the story 09:22

NRDC, CLF, CBD Acts to Defend Atlantic’s First Marine Monument

NRDC is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges the New England marine monument established last September—the first such monument off the continental U.S. Together with other supporters of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, NRDC today filed this motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by five regional commercial fishing associations. This ocean park spans almost 5,000 miles and safeguards ancient coral gardens, endangered sperm whales, Atlantic puffins, and literally thousands of other animal species for the benefit of all Americans. Our goal is to prevent it from being handed back to private industries for commercial exploitation, including commercial fishing, seismic surveying, oil and gas drilling, and mining. We also want to protect the President’s authority to designate future marine monuments and demonstrate that the other four marine monuments–designated by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush—were legally created. Our partners seeking to intervene include a naturalist who leads whale watch tours, Conservation Law Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Read the rest of this stuff here 17:03

For fisheries regulations, a Trump edict signals uncertainty

New England fishermen and conservationists fear one of President Trump’s executive orders will have disruptive effects on fisheries management, although it will not affect routine seasonal fisheries regulation, as some had initially feared. The order prompted a fiery letter three days later from two prominent Democratic congressmen pointing out it could have “devastating impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and the businesses and communities they support.” “Effectively what it means is that nobody can do anything because agencies will have to stop doing major regulatory actions because you can’t comply with this order, which may be the point,” says a former top federal fisheries management official, Andrew Rosenberg, who is now director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Drew Minkiewicz, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing larger Eastern Seaboard scallop fishermen, says fishermen need not be concerned about most regulations. “This executive order has zero impact on 99.9 percent of the fishing regulations going out, so people who are wondering if the fishing season will be delayed don’t need to,” he says. “It’s much ado about nothing.” Read the article here 08:39

Fishermen hope Trump will end Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument

donald-trumpNew England fishermen who opposed President Barack Obama’s creation of the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument are now hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will abolish it, shrink it or allow some fishing inside it. Environmentalists view the monument as a way to sustain important species, as well as research and reduce the toll of climate change. “We take the monument very seriously and any threats to it are threats, I think, against the national interest,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation. “We would take appropriate action if and when anything happened, including making a compelling scientific case to the president for the monument.” It’s unclear whether Trump could unilaterally undo a marine monument designation. It hasn’t been done before. There’s precedent, however, to modify a monument. Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, also in August, to create the world’s largest oceanic preserve at nearly 600,000 square miles. Read the story here 15:45

Will Obama use the State Departments “Our Oceans” Conference to designate canyons and seamounts National Marine Monument?

ObamaThe third installment of the Our Ocean forum will convene in Washington, D.C., this week and the betting window is open on whether the Obama administration will use the event to announce the designation of new National Marine Monuments. No one — neither conservationists nor fishing stakeholders — claims to know exactly what will happen when the two-day, international event opens Thursday. But it has not escaped anyone’s attention that the Obama administration has used the same forum in the past to make similar announcements. The Obama administration’s decision not to use the Antiquities Act to designate any portion of Cashes Ledge as a monument validated fishing stakeholders and others who characterized the proposal — which originated with the Conservation Law Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pew Charitable Trusts — as an end-run around the existing fisheries management system and wholly unnecessary given the existing protections already afforded the area. Read the story here 07:55