Tag Archives: department-of-commerce

Cuomo requests federal disaster declaration, aid for scallop die-off

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday requested the U.S. Department of Commerce issue a disaster declaration for the Peconic Bay scallop fishery, following a catastrophic die-off of scallops in East End waterways. An immediate declaration of a disaster is needed, he said, to provide “direct economic relief for the New York fishing industry.” In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Cuomo requested that the federal government formally declare a fishery failure in the bay scallop fishery in the Peconic Bay Estuary due to a “fishery resource disaster.” >click to read< 15:19

Fishermen Desperate for Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief

U.S. Virgin Islands fishermen aired their grievances at a public meeting held by the St. Thomas/St. John Fisherman’s Association on Monday, where they were told the $10.7 million received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to rebuild the territory’s fishing industry is still not ready to be disbursed to individual fishermen. Fisherman’s Association Chairman Julian Magras said promises made to the association have not been followed through. “To say that we have a concrete update on where the money is, we do not,”  >click to read< 10:00

Federal fisheries declaration approved for Mississippi

Congressional leaders announced a federal fisheries disaster declaration Wednesday morning to help South Mississippi fishermen affected by the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Mississippi leaders said in a statement that they are now working to expedite the funds set aside by the disaster declaration to provide fishermen with disaster relief more quickly. >click to read< 12:03

Wicker, Hyde-Smith, & Palazzo Commend Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration for Mississippi>click to read<

GA Among States to Receive Part of $20 Million in Fishery Disaster Funding

The U.S. Department of Commerce allocated $20 million to help tribes, communities, fishermen, and businesses affected by commercial fishery failures that occurred in Georgia, California, Oregon, and Washington between 2013 and 2017. “The Department of Commerce and NOAA stand ready to support communities working to rebuild and rebound from fishery disasters,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We will continue to work closely with our partners to help American fishermen preserve their livelihoods.” >click to read<09:45

What About the Fish?!! Trump signs memo to send more water to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness

“Western water mismanagement has been horrendous for commercial, recreational, and guide fisheries in California,” said Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) executive director Noah Oppenheim in a statement. “Water users have sucked our rivers dry for far too long, and the fish have been paying the price.”,,, “Just last month the Secretary of Commerce declared our 2016 and 2017 fishing seasons to be official federal fishery disasters. >click to read<09:00

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

Victory! Court Shuts Down Offshore Aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico

Today, Center for Food Safety, representing a coalition of fishing and public interest groups, won their lawsuit challenging the Department of Commerce’s new federal rules that would have permitted, for the first time, industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters. “This is a landmark victory for protecting our oceans, for fishing communities and conservationists,” said George Kimbrell, CFS Legal Director and lead counsel in the case. “Allowing industrial net-pen aquaculture and its known environmental harms in the Gulf of Mexico is a grave threat. Very simply, as the Court properly held, aquaculture is not ‘fishing.’ These types of harms cannot be allowed under existing fisheries law never intended for that purpose.” >click to read<18:51

DEM gets $1.6M grant for Port of Galilee infrastructure improvements

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management has received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to make critical port infrastructure improvements needed to support the region’s commercial fishing industry, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Monday.,,, “President Trump has been clear about the urgent need to upgrade American infrastructure from coast to coast,” Ross said in a statement. “The completion of this project will help drive new opportunities to the local commercial fishing industry in the Port of Galilee.” click here to read the story 14:57

Cuomo threatens to sue if fluke quotas aren’t reallocated

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threatened Tuesday to sue the federal government if two interstate fishery-management agencies meeting in December fail to reach an “equitable” redistribution of the coastwide quota for fluke. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday, Cuomo wrote it was “imperative” that the federal and interstate agencies take “immediate action” to “reallocate” the quota for fluke “in a fair and equitable manner or New York will be forced to take legal action to protect the interests of fishermen in this state.” Cuomo gave the agencies until December to act. click here to read the story click here to read the letter 09:46

Trump Admin Won’t List Non-Endangered Tuna As An Endangered Species

The Trump administration declined a petition to list the Pacific bluefin tuna as “endangered” Tuesday after the Department of Commerce (DOC) found that the fish was not facing any significant threat of extinction. A petition from the Center of Biological Diversity to list the fish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) triggered the Commerce Department’s review. The review began under former President Barack Obama, and lasted for 12 months before the DOC’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued its findings, according to the notice published in the Federal Register. The Center for Biological Diversity claimed the tuna was at risk of extinction, based on findings by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). click here to read the story 20:01

NOAA seeks jurisdiction of Lake Michigan waters next to Wisconsin – Protecting shipwrecks or shipwrecking the economy?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is preparing to designate the waters of Lake Michigan next to Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee counties as a national marine sanctuary, and that has set off a howl of protest that the state is surrendering its jurisdictional authority to the federal government, which critics say could threaten commercial fishing and coastal recreational activities, among other things. Meanwhile, both the Trump administration and Congress are looking into the national marine sanctuary program and into what some say are its overreaching and unilateral power to impose restrictions in the sanctuary areas. click here to read the story 09:41

Louisiana Shrimp Fishermen Face New Challenges – White Spot Disease

The experience is not universal within the nation’s eight shrimp-producing states, nor even within Louisiana. That’s why some shrimpers suspect that undiagnosed trouble may lurk within the local fishery itself. At the tail end of this year’s crawfish season, white spot disease was detected in Louisiana ponds. It’s not too far a jump, some in the industry, to suspect contamination with the virus as a cause for decline. “Is it the same strain that is in the Asian shrimp that gets imported here?” said Acy Cooper, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.,,, Jeffrey Marx, the chief shrimp biologist at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is skeptical.,,, Fishermen want more research to be done, and some precautions to be taken, however. click here to read the story  for links about White Spot here and Australia click here 08:34

Department of Commerce Announces Changes to the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Private Angler Recreational Season

For the first time in a decade, Federal authorities and the five Gulf States have agreed to align Federal and State private angler red snapper fishing seasons for the remainder of the summer, and the Department of Commerce has re-opened the 2017 private angler recreational season for 39 weekend days and holidays.  Majority Whip Scalise and other Members of Congress were instrumental in reaching this agreement. The agreement reached between the Secretary of Commerce and the five Gulf States is a significant step forward in building a new Federal-State partnership in managing the Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock.The Departments rule does not change the quota or season length for the federally permitted for-hire component of the recreational fishery or the commercial individual fishing quota program and the 2017 commercial quota.  Click here to read the press release 18:13

Snapper silliness still has anglers seeing red

The bumper sticker on the white Ford pickup truck could not have been more clear: “National Marine Fisheries Service: Destroying Fishermen and Their Communities Since 1976!” Poignant. Harsh, even. But tame by today’s standards. The sticker made me think of an issue affecting offshore bottom fishermen who depart inlets between the Treasure Coast and South Carolina. I’m no mathematician, but something fishy is going on with red snapper statistics. Red snapper, a larger cousin of mutton snapper and mangrove snapper, resides in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is presently off limits to harvest by east coast anglers, and has been since 2010. The reason? Because 10 years ago, fisheries statisticians determined that the red snapper fishery was “undergoing overfishing.” Along with “jumbo shrimp,” that expression is still one of my all-time favorite oxymorons. click to continue reading the story here 08:28

Maine wants U.S. help to prevent lobster trade gap with Canada

As a trade deal between the European Union and Canada nears completion, politicians in Maine want the federal government to find a way to prevent the U.S. from landing in a major trade disadvantage over a valuable, and tasty, resource — lobsters. The Canada-European Union deal would get rid of tariffs on Canadian lobster exports to the 28-nation bloc. That would give Canada a huge advantage over the United States in sending some coveted seafood products overseas. EU nations imported more than $150 million in lobster from America last year, and took more than $190 million Canadian (US$143 million) from Canada. The combination of a strong U.S. dollar and tariffs would make it hard to compete with Canada, American lobster exporters said. continue reading the story here 20:57

Christie administration formally asks Department of Commerce to withdraw summer flounder quota

The Gov. Christie administration has filed a formal request with the U.S. Department of Commerce to stop restrictions on recreational summer flounder fishing from going into effect. The department oversees fisheries management under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The proposed NOAA quota calls for a reduction of summer flounder recreational and commercial limits by 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. In a news release, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said the limits would have a devastating impact on the state. He added that the rules vary “too widely” yearly, causing uncertainty for fisheries managers and anglers. Also, according to Martin, the state has more than 30 years of fish trawl surveys that indicate a measurable increase in the summer flounder stock offshore.  Read the story here 16:06

Connecticut’s fishing fleet facing potentially ‘disastrous’ quota cuts for fluke

“It’s going to put us out of business,” Stonington fisherman Robert Guzzo, vice president of the Southern New England Fishermen and Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday. “I’ve never seen so many fish in the ocean. The fish are out there, but the science and the regulators haven’t caught up with what’s actually out there.” On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pressed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross to use his authority to change how quotas for fish species including fluke — also called summer flounder — are allocated among states from the mid-Atlantic to New England. In response, Ross said he is interested in helping the fisheries and ensuring quotas are allocated properly. The Department of Commerce includes the National Marine Fisheries Service. Blumenthal’s statements during the hearing came a day after he and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, sent a letter to the current commerce secretary urging that the new quotas be withdrawn. Read the story here 10:30

California Commercial crabbers still hope for relief from previous season

ar-161119792-jpgmaxh400maxw667Commercial crab fishing opens Tuesday, but fishermen are still reeling from last year’s abysmal season and haven’t seen any sign of the hoped-for federal emergency funds Gov. Jerry Brown requested from the Department of Commerce. In February, Brown wrote a letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, asking her to declare a fishery resource disaster. He sought federal help in offsetting the $48.3 million loss to the industry after crab fishing was put on hold due to toxin contamination. Dungeness crab is one of the highest valued commercial fisheries in California,” he wrote. “Declaring a commercial failure will enable the fishing communities affected by the closure to receive essential economic assistance.” “We’re all far behind,” said Vicki Crow, a crab vendor at Moss Landing Harbor. Crow, 60, has been in the fishing industry most of her adult life, starting at around age 20 with commercial abalone and sea urchin diving. Now she sells crab from a dock at the harbor. “It’s just been really bad for us,” she said. Read the story here 08:24

Connecticut lawmakers call on inspector general to investigate fishing regulations

PrintU.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both D-Conn., along with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Second District, on Tuesday called on the inspector general of the Department of Commerce to investigate what they call an inequity in regulations that puts New England fishermen at a disadvantage. “We write to raise a growing concern of our constituents in the fishing industry who are facing extreme economic hardship related to the structure of fisheries management across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic,” wrote Blumenthal, Murphy and Courtney. “On several occasions during town halls and meetings in Connecticut with many of the fishermen who operate in the state, we have repeatedly heard concerns that black sea bass, summer flounder, and scup have migrated northward, but the state-by-state allocations for these species still reflect historical numbers when they were in greater abundance in the mid-Atlantic,” the lawmakers wrote. Read the rest here 18:53

NOAA At-sea monitoring suspended (for now) – To start again March 1, when boats must pay costs

bullard karpNOAA Fisheries exhausted its budgeted money for at-sea monitoring of Northeast fishing sector groundfish boats on Feb. 16 and has suspended all required monitoring until the fishing industry assumes monitoring costs on March 1.  The details of the suspension, which has not been publicly announced by NOAA, were contained in a Feb. 19 declaration filed by NOAA Regional Administrator John K. Bullard in the federal lawsuit New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel of Hampton filed against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce and officials within those federal agencies. “On or about Feb. 16, the (Northeast Fisheries) Science Center became aware for the first time that recent updates did not include information for all completed trips … and that committed government funds to pay for ASMs had been exhausted,” Bullard wrote in his declaration. Read the rest here 08:06

NOAA urged to expedite decision to allow the American Samoa purse seiner fleet to fish in the high seas.

Tri Marine International’s CEO, Mr. Renato Curto and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Joe Hamby visited senior NOAA and Department of Commerce officials in Washington, D.C. this week urging them to expedite their decision on the petition to allow the American Samoa purse seiner fleet to fish in the high seas. NOAA’s public comment period on the petition ended on August 17th.Over 100 comments were received, only four of which were against the petition. Heidi Happonen, spokesperson for Tri Marine said with such broad support for restoring access to the high seas,,, Read the rest here 12:52

NMFS issues overfishing notice for 4 northwest salmon stocks, and North Pacific swordfish

The federal agency in charge of managing fisheries has ruled four stocks of Pacific Northwest salmon are being overfished. The National Marine Fisheries Service and the Department of Commerce on Wednesday posted a notice in the Federal Register of the excessive fishing pressures on Chinook and Coho salmon in the Columbia River Basin and along the Washington coast. The notice, which included overfishing findings for , is meant to alert fishery managers that fishing pressures are driving salmon populations down. Read the rest here 09:10

There’s something fishy about the Department of Commerce’s denial of Alan Stein’s FOIA requests

He claims that the Commerce Department and two of its agencies – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its Office of the Inspector General – stonewalled his requests about an investigation that sent a former fisheries official to jail. Arne Fuglvog served on the NPFMC, which oversees assignment of fishing quotas in Alaska, from 2003 to 2006, and on an advisory council to the NPFMC before that. Then he went to work as an aide for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. He played a large role in moving federal fishery management from purely conservation toward privatization of the resource which has in some areas of the country (and would have in others) sharply reduced the number of fishing vessels and canneries.” Read the rest here 07:24

House votes to slash climate research, block new red snapper fishing plan, and ‘ocean zoning’ funding

The $51.4 billion spending bill would fund the fiscal 2016 budgets for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, NASA, the National Science Foundation and related agencies. NOAA — which is housed within Commerce — would get about $5.2 billion, a cut of more than $270 million to its current budget. The Obama administration criticized the climate research cut — as well as a $200 million cut to earth science missions in NASA’s budget — in a veto threat of the overall spending bill released Monday. The statement of administration policy also takes aim at Republicans’ decision not to include $147 million for a new ocean survey vessel,,, Read the rest here 17:41

Fish-farm madness – A US/Canadian Collaborative, The “Joint Forward Plan”

The Joint Forward Plan states that “Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked on aligning product reviews and risk assessment methodologies” in order to “reduce administrative burden on industry and provide simultaneous product access” to users. Regarding fish farms, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is collaborating with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Read the rest here 16:02

National Marine Fisheries Service violated law – Federal Ruling on Allocation Favors Gulf Commercial Red Snapper Fishermen

GSI-LogoFederal Ruling on Allocation Favors Gulf Commercial Red Snapper Fishermen A federal ruling has been handed down that the U.S. government violated the law by failing to properly manage the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper fishery. Read more here  16:16

ARDORs, hair crab limited entry revived –

23523_354387901211_7651997_aJUNEAU — The bill to resurrect the Alaska Regional Development Organization program and the now-unique vessel-based limited entry system for the currently closed Korean hair crab fishery is on its way to Gov. Sean Parnell after a House floor debate as strange as the measure’s weird path through the Legislature. Read more here  23:10

Editorial: Hail fishing aid when it reaches those who need it

gdt iconBut you should excuse fishermen and even federal and state lawmakers if all this good news didn’t exactly touch off celebrations along the docks, and in the halls of government, where people like Congressman John Tierney called it simply “the next critical step in the process.” That’s because it’s also clear that this money — desperately needed by front-line fishermen months ago — is still weeks, and likely months from reaching them. Read more here  03:19

Sackton: NMFS, DOC to blame for 38% drop in New England haddock revenue since 2011,- (And their ecoevangelical ENGO’s masters are too!)

We have been struck by the success of the recent Canadian winter haddock season. In January, in just a few ports in Nova Scotia, Canadian boats landed more than 2,000 metric tons of haddock (nearly 4.5 million pounds). The newspapers were filled with stories of overloaded harbors, full processing plants, and higher revenue based on great market prices.,,,Meanwhile, the fisheries disaster in New England keeps unfolding. According to a recent letter from the chair of the New England council to the head of the Department of Commerce (DOC), 2013 groundfish landings in New England will be around 43.4 million pounds, with revenue of only $55.8 million. This represents a 38% reduction in revenue since 2011. No wonder New England fishing businesses outside of the scallop industry are facing extinction. Read [email protected]  14:24

The Devil in the Fishery Disaster Aid Details.- Mass. seen having leg up on fish aid

Elizabeth WarrenMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office confirmed yesterday that the process for developing the distribution formula remains a work in progress, but with the underlying principle that the funds — specifically designated as assistance to the groundfish disaster proclaimed by the Department of Commerce in 2012 — should go to areas where the most groundfish fishermen have suffered the greatest level of economic distress from the disaster.But Warren’s office also confirmed that federal disaster funds, no matter the type of disaster, usually come with a hefty price tag for the states that accept them — a state must provide an additional 25 percent of the total amount of disaster aid it accepts. Read [email protected]  02:28