Tag Archives: Division of Marine Fisheries.

North Carolina Fisheries Commission Forces Gill Net Ban

The state Marine Fisheries Commission voted Wednesday to overrule the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries and ban gill nets upstream of the ferry crossing points in the Neuse and Pamlico rivers. The commission, during what it called an emergency meeting in Kinston that was announced Monday, approved a motion directing Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey to implement a year-round closure upstream of the Bayview-Aurora Ferry in the Pamlico River and upstream of the Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch Ferry in the Neuse River. The proclamation to take effect Monday and the closure were expected to continue for about two years or until an amendment to the state’s Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan is adopted. The provision, called Amendment 2, could continue the closure or recommend other management actions. >click to read<10:44

Commercial Fishing Assistance Offered – Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program

Some North Carolina commercial fishermen can receive financial help from the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program. The state Division of Marine Fisheries was to mail packets last week to those that are eligible based on October and November landings. Packets are only being sent to those fishermen who had lower landings in October and/or November 2018 as compared to their average landings from the same months in the previous three years. The second round of payments from the program, state legislature appropriated $11.6 million to DMF to help commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters who suffered income losses from harvest reductions due to Hurricane Florence. >click to read<13:49

Bruce Tarr pushing bill to expand lobster processing industry in Bay State

State Senate Majority Leader Bruce Tarr didn’t waste any time in the new legislative calendar to again push the state to liberalize its lobster processing laws to allow in-state processing and sale of raw and frozen lobster parts. And this time, the Republican from Gloucester is armed with a report from the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries that supports the legislative reform and spells out some of the economic benefits of allowing in-state processing rather than sending the live lobsters out of state — often all the way to Canada —for processing. >click to read<22:27

NC Fisheries Hurricane Florence disaster declaration granted

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross granted Governor Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration related to damage to North Carolina’s marine fishing industry in Hurricane Florence. Recreational and commercial fishing are important economic drivers for our state and families along North Carolina’s coast. I appreciate Secretary Ross’s recognition of the damage to these vital industries caused by Hurricane Florence. We must rebuild smarter and stronger than ever and I will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to bring recovery funds to those who need them,” said Governor Cooper.>click to read<10:23

Lobsterman back in court – Only $720 of $10K fine paid for illegal lobsters

When James A. Santapaola Jr. got nabbed landing 183 illegal lobsters at a local lobster wholesaler two years ago, the Gloucester lobsterman eventually cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to 20 of the counts and pay two fines totaling $10,050. Now, nearly two years after the plea deal, Santapaola Jr. — who was arrested again last week on charges of possessing 47 illegal lobsters — has paid only $720 of the $10,050 in fines, according to the clerk’s office at the Gloucester District Court. ,,, The haul, according to law enforcement reports, included 28 undersized lobsters, 16 V-notched females and three oversized lobsters.>click to read<20:48

Nort Carolina: New shrimping rules slowly migrate through sea of bureaucracy

Almost two years after it surfaced, a proposal to radically curtail commercial shrimping is crawling through the state’s rule-making process. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation petitioned the Marine Fisheries Commission for the new rules in November 2016, and after modifications, the panel accepted the request on Feb. 16, 2017. Several changes would cripple the shrimp trawling industry, critics say, and would raise the size limit on spot and croaker so high that they would effectively eliminate both fisheries for recreational and commercial fishermen. But the rule-making part isn’t on the horizon yet. >click to read<09:30

Lobster processing bill OK’d by Mass State Senate

“Massachusetts has the second largest lobster catch in the country,” Tarr said in a statement. “To keep from being left behind, we should expand our ability to process raw and frozen lobster parts. American lobsters are being harvested here and should be prepared for market here instead of Canada or Maine.” The expansion of allowed processing practices, according to Tarr, would enhance local economies in Massachusetts coastal communities such as Gloucester, which is the state’s most lucrative lobster port, and provide local restaurants and food stores with “superior access to the best lobster parts for their customers.” >click to read<19:26

State regulators: Lobster season will have to wait – a sudden influx of right whales

Lobstermen already have to observe a three month closure from Feb. 1 to April 30 annually in an effort to reduce the number of whales that get entangled in fishing gear during their annual migration. Now, however, boats won’t be able to hit the water until May 6 at the earliest, and a second regulation imposes a 10 knot speed limit for vessels less than 65 feet long through May 15. Right whales feed close to the surface and are vulnerable to vessel strikes. “There are a number of challenges in this industry, and one of those is being able to fund your livelihood for 12 months when you can only fish for nine months,” John Haviland, president of the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, said. >click to read<17:34

2018 Mass. DMF fishing regulations go into effect April 20

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has enacted new regulations, which were informed in part by this winter’s public hearings. The regulations were reviewed and approved by the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission at its March 15 meeting, and go into effect on April 20. The most substantive change is an adjustment to the open commercial fishing days for black sea bass. The new open commercial fishing days are Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.,, The commercial black sea bass season will begin on Tuesday, July 10.,, During the inshore small-mesh trawl squid fishery, April 23–June 9, trawlers will be allowed to retain a 50-pound bycatch limit of black sea bass. >click to read<18:00

Massachusetts Lobster Catch Declines, Boat Prices Rise

As the summer of 2017 wore on, the word from local lobstermen was that the behavior of their prized catch had grown more unpredictable and landings were down. Well, they were right: Landings and the value of the catch declined slightly across coastal Massachusetts in 2017, but a late fall run and higher off-the-boat prices helped mitigate the damage and keep declines well below those suffered by their lobstering contemporaries in Maine. According to data supplied by the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Bay State lobstermen landed 16,565,126 pounds of lobster in 2017 with a total value of $81.54 million — for an average boat price of $4.92 per pound. >click to read<10:57

GARFO AA Pentony taking on whale crisis – Lobstermen wary of more environmental regulations

South Shore Lobstermen wary – Traps dropped to the bottom of the ocean by lobstermen are currently connected to a buoy at the surface by a long, taut rope. Fishermen use the buoys to mark where traps are and use the rope to pull up them from the ocean floor, but researchers think the same thing could be achieved by ditching the ropes and using a GPS-like tracking technology and acoustic communication. >click to read< 16:20

Pentony taking on whale crisis – The number one issue right now is the right whale crisis,,, It will occupy our resources and energy for the next several years until we can reverse the trend. Thats going to be a significant challenge. >click to read<

Islanders, officials discuss the dire state of river herring

Local fishermen, tribe and town officials, state and federal officials, and concerned citizens gathered Monday in the cavernous Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) Community Center to discuss the troubling decline in the river herring population on the Vineyard, and along the eastern seaboard.,,, The decimation done by offshore fishing was a recurring theme in the discussion. “Ninety-five percent of the public doesn’t know how much harm the midwater trawlers are doing,” charter fishing captain, and Aquinnah Deputy Shellfish Warden Buddy Vanderhoop said. Vanderhoop said the trawlers off the New England coasts are also decimating groundfish stocks, such as cod, haddock, flounder, and pollock. >click to read< 13:19

How cold was it in January? Bad enough to kill a lot of fish

The record-breaking freeze that hit eastern North Carolina the first week of January was so cold that it killed a massive number of fish in tidal creeks and estuaries along the coast. Hardest hit was the spotted seatrout, a fish especially popular with recreational anglers who, along with commercial fishermen, are now banned from fishing for them until the middle of June. The moratorium is meant to give surviving fish a chance to replenish by spawning this spring.,,, >click to read< 13:36

Should Massachusetts ban commercial striped bass fishing?

YES – Rip Cunningham: Dover resident who fishes in the Plymouth area; active member, Stripers Forever; former editor, Salt Water Sportsman; former chairman, Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, and New England Fisheries Management Council.,, NO – Douglas Amorello: Plymouth resident, commercial lobsterman and multi-species fin fisherman, including for striped bass click here to read the story 15:52

Sanfilippo resigns from Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission

Longtime Gloucester fisherman Gus Sanfilippo has resigned from the state’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, leaving Arthur “Sooky” Sawyer as the only Gloucester resident on the commission. Sanfilippo, appointed to the commission in May 2016 as part of Gov. Charlie Baker’s wholesale purge of existing commission members, said he resigned so he could spend more time fishing.,, Sanfilippo’s resignation leaves Sawyer, who also serves as president of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, as the solitary Gloucester resident on the commission — though member Louis D. Williams, who resides in Salem, lists Gloucester as his principal port for lobstering. click here to read the story 11:44

Ban on commercial striper fishing weighed

Stripers were pushed to the brink of extinction in the late-1970s but made a dramatic comeback. Now recreational anglers say the coveted fish again is struggling, and they’re lobbying Beacon Hill to implement new limits that include making the fish off-limits to commercial fishermen. One proposal, filed Rep. Walter Timilty, D-Milton, would limit commercial licenses to fishermen who can demonstrate they’ve caught and sold more than 1,000 pounds of striped bass annually over the last five years. Another proposal, offered by Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, would phase out commercial fishing for striped bass by 2025 and establish fines up to $500 per fish for violators of new regulations. click here to read the story 19:29

South Shore lobstermen dismayed by failed bid for longer season

Lobstermen are busy loading their boats with traps and buoys and getting their gear back in the water after a three-month closure lifted this week for most of the South Shore. But Marshfield lobsterman John Haviland said he is starting the season feeling more disenchanted than ever after federal regulators turned down a proposal to allow lobstermen to fish year-round with a new rope line designed to reduce the chance of entangling endangered whales. “I’m disappointed that we put three years worth of research and meetings into trying to do the right thing, and it was not successful,” Haviland, president of the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, said. “It makes you question if you should keep doing the one thing you’ve always done.” Since 2015, federal regulations have banned the use of lobstering equipment from Feb. 1 to April 30 off Cape Cod Bay and beyond, shutting down the local industry for the winter. The goal is to reduce the chances of whales becoming entangled in the gear. click here to read the article 12:09

No lobstering until right whales leave Cape Cod Bay

For the past three years there has been a ban on setting lobster traps and pots in the bay from Feb. 1 through the end of April, a ban intended to protect these whales from entanglement. Last week by some counts close to 200 of the estimated total population of 500 Atlantic Western Right Whales were still in Cape Cod Bay. Citing their endangered status and their surprising willingness to stay in the bay because of an abundance of the plankton they feed on, the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries announced that most of the bay would remain closed to setting recreational and commercial lobster traps and pots through next Sunday, May 7. For environmentalists involved in the protection of this species of whale the extended ban was a reasonable, measured action. For many lobstermen it was salt on an open wound. click here to read the story 07:56

Division of Marine Fisheries Extends Trap Fishing Gear Closure in Cape Cod Bay

As a result of the ongoing presence of endangered right whales feeding in Cape Cod Bay, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) today announced that most of Cape Cod Bay will remain closed to the setting of recreational and commercial traps and pots for an additional week, through May 7, 2017. Right whales are common in Cape Cod Bay during late winter and early spring, especially during the months of March and April, and usually depart before May 1, when the three month (February – April) trap closure affecting this area was scheduled to be lifted. However, over the past month an unprecedented number of whales have been observed, with mid-April counts demonstrating a presence of more than 200 whales. While the most recent survey suggests some whales may have departed the Bay, an estimated 100 to 200 individuals remain present. This late seasonal presence of whales corresponds with extraordinarily high densities of plankton (Calanus copepods), the preferred food of right whales.  Read the press release here with imagery 14:43

State unreceptive to squid-fishing petition

David Pierce, director of the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, started yesterday’s public hearing on whether to bar trawlers from fishing for squid within three miles of Nantucket by listing the reasons he does not support a local petition to keep them away from the island from May 1 to Oct. 31. By the end of the four-hour meeting, attended by an overflow crowd at the Public Safety Facility, Nantucket charter captain and former commercial fisherman Pete Kaizer hoped Pierce had changed his mind on at least one thing: that trawlers disrupt what are called squid mops in a way that kills squid eggs and affects spawning. subscription site, more info to follow as it becomes available. 09:46

Nantucket fishermen implore state to protect squid, DMF director balks!

For the past couple of years, Nantucket fishermen have had a hard time finding striped bass in the rips and alongshore where they were accustomed to catching them. They think they know why: no squid. “This was where all the bass were caught. Now, no bait, no fish, no stripers to speak of,” said Pete Kaizer, a charter boat captain and commercial tuna fisherman. Kaizer and other Nantucket fishermen petitioned the state Division of Marine Fisheries to prohibit fish draggers and scallopers that tow nets or large metal dredges along the ocean bottom from state waters, up to 3 miles out from shore all around the island. The ban would run from May 1 to Oct. 31 with the idea of protecting spawning longfin squid.,, The Nantucket fishermen have an online petition, signed by over 1,200 people, asking state DMF director David Pierce to enact the Nantucket fishing prohibition. Pierce said there was little science to back up the proposal, and said he opposed it and would not forward it to his state Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission for approval. Read the story here 07:40

Massachusetts fisheries officials: Loophole in striped bass fishery needs closing

Massachusetts fisheries officials want to to close a loophole in state regulations that resulted in what they believe were illegal landings of striped bass last year. At a public hearing at Massachusetts Maritime Academy Wednesday night, Division of Marine Fisheries Deputy Director Dan McKiernan said the state is looking to reduce the number of striped bass that commercial fishermen could land from 15 down to two, if they’re fishing from shore. “What happened last year was disgusting,” said Patrick Paquette of the Massachusetts Striped Bass Association, which is composed of both commercial and recreational fishermen. “There was a rampant black market at the (Cape Cod) canal. Plenty of guys were taking fish from friends, putting them in coolers, and selling them under their boat permit.” Under state striped bass fishing regulations, a commercial fisherman can buy a boat permit that allows him or her to catch and sell up to 15 fish a day. There is also a less expensive individual permit under which he or she can land two fish a day from shore. The state limited commercial fishing to two days a week. In bad weather, some fishermen with boat permits fished from shore, and could technically land their 15 fish. Read the story here 09:37

Mass DMF gets an earful from conch fishermen, David Pierce mentions squid trawling

Officials from the Division of Marine Fisheries on their annual rounds to inform fishermen of proposed regulations for 2017 held a public hearing at the Katharine Cornell Theater in Tisbury on Wednesday morning. A lengthy agenda cast a wide net on changes in proposed limits to finfish and shellfish, but the most spirited debate by far was over a proposed increase to the minimum size of channel whelk and knob whelk, often referred to as “conch,” for this year. DMF director David Pierce and deputy director Dan McKiernan moderated the discussion. Local fishermen portended dire economic circumstances if the current minimum size, measured at the shell’s widest point, is increased from 3 inches to 3 3⁄16 inches. DMF officials countered that without the increase, the future of the conch fishery, the most valuable fishery on Martha’s Vineyard, will be in serious jeopardy in a matter of years. Prior to the start of the public hearing, DMF director David Pierce said that while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard last year, he picked up a copy of The MV Times and read the Sept. 7 story, “Squid trawlers leave a wake of death south of Martha’s Vineyard” that described the miles of dead by-catch — mostly squid and scup — left behind by squid trawlers operating just outside the three-mile state limit south of Martha’s Vineyard. Read the story here 17:04

North Carolina: Small Victory for Trawling Industry – But the fight isn’t over

Around 20 trawl boats made their way up the Neuse River to anchor in front of the New Bern Convention Center on Tuesday in a show of protest to proposed rules that would severely impact and ultimately kill their industry. Inside, the spacious conference room was filled to capacity with mostly advocates and supporters of commercial fishing. Donning badges saying “Deny the petition” with a trawl boat on the back drop, the show of solidarity was palpable.,, Throughout the meeting, advisory members unraveled what could be determined as a poorly thought-out petition, pointing out large factors that were omitted – namely economics and science. One of the biggest flaws the panel pointed out repeatedly is the fact that no other environmental factors were considered in the NCWF’s accusation that trawlers were destroying the finfish population. From cormorants to construction and economics to foreign imports,  there were many elements the NCWF admittedly left out. It was very clear that the group had one purpose with their proposed petition for rule-making- to shut down trawling in NC waters. Read the story here 11:36

Questions arise over commercial license fees collected for flounder fishery observers

Watermen want to know what happened to commercial license fees that were collected to fund observers required by law for flounder fishing when sea turtles are spotted in area waters. Few answers were provided at a meeting of the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Funding Committee on Jan. 4. Records show that $1.3 million was allocated for the observers in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but only $608,065 was spent. Dewey Hemilright, who attended the meeting, asked how so much could have been spent on the Section 10 permit program when the flounder fishery was closed much of the season. “Expenses need more accountability,” said Hemilright, a long-line fisherman. “This doesn’t affect me, but I’m willing to pay the extra money if it allows others to fish. But if there’s more being paid in than is needed, then it should be returned to the fishermen.” An additional license fee was imposed after a state appropriation to cover the cost of complying with the federal permit’s conditions was eliminated. One condition requires the observers, who monitor interactions with endangered sea turtles and sturgeon. Read the rest here 15:53

Cape Cod: Summing up the seals

When David Pierce seated himself at the table at the Nantucket Seal Symposium last month, one image came to mind: private pilot Aaron Knight’s video from last April showing miles of gray seals – a dozen deep, cheek by jowl, banding the Monomoy shoreline. Recently appointed as director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Pierce is a veteran of decades of fisheries negotiations as former director Paul Diodati’s proxy on the New England Fishery Management Council. Fishery managers live and die by population estimates, known as stock assessments, that help set sustainable catch levels for commercial fishermen, so it was disconcerting to hear that the same level of science had not been applied to the predators who eat them. “The determination of population size is extremely important, especially in the context of ecosystem management in New England,” Pierce said. “If they (gray seals) are out there in large numbers foraging, what might their impact be on the Georges Bank ecosystem?” The answer will not be coming any time soon, according to federal fisheries officials at the symposium. Read the story here 09:43

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Division of Marine Fisheries Reopens Waters South of Cape Cod to Shellfishing

massachusetts-sealEffective immediately, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has reopened waters south of Cape Cod to shellfish harvesting, including Mount Hope Bay, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound, the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and the south coast of Cape Cod. Due to the dissipation of a potentially toxic phytoplankton bloom of Pseudo-Nitzshia and the results of toxicity testing, DMF has concluded that shellfish in the reopened areas are safe to harvest for public consumption.Toxicity screening of shellfish was conducted by DMF laboratories and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine, and results have determined that digging, harvesting, collecting and/or attempting to dig, harvest or collect shellfish, and the possession of shellfish, is now permissible in all approved or conditionally approved waters from the Rhode Island border east into Nantucket Sound, including all of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds and waters surrounding the islands. DMF issued a shellfish harvest closure in Buzzards Bay, Mount Hope Bay and Lackeys Bay on October 7, 2016 and issued a closure in all waters south of Cape Cod on October 9, 2016. Shellfish closure notices can be found on the DMF website.   12:54

Judge blocks closure of southern flounder fishing. Will it be appealed?

A Wake County Superior Court judge has issued an injunction preventing the NCDMF_trnsprntN.C. Marine Fisheries Commission from closing the entire southern flounder fishery from October 16 through January 1. During its November 2015 meeting at Jeanette’s Pier, the commission voted 6-3 to shut down both the commercial and recreational fisheries for southern flounder during the fourth quarter of 2016. A lawsuit was filed by the New Bern-based North Carolina Fisheries Association, the Carteret County Fishermen’s Association, as well as Dare, Hyde and Carteret counties, against the commission’s action, and resulted in a temporary restraining order being issued on Sept. 28. After two hours of testimony on Oct. 6 from attorneys representing the NCFA and the state, Superior Court Judge John Jolly, Jr. issued an order preventing the Division of Marine Fisheries from instituting the October 16 closure. When the MFC voted for the closure last year, interest groups from the commercial fishing industry, which were opposed to the ban, lined up against the recreation-oriented Coastal Conservation Association and Recreational Fishing Alliance. Read the story here 09:39

Northern Gulf of Maine State Waters Exempted Scallop Fishery Meeting Scheduled

ngom-scallop-mngmnt-areaThe Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will take public comment on a possible state waters exempted scallop fishery in the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) scallop management area. A meeting is scheduled for: 5PM – 7PM Thursday, October 20, 2016 Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station 30 Emerson Ave., Gloucester, MA. DMF was petitioned to apply for a state waters exempted fishery in the NGOM scallop management area (Figure 1). The petition requests an allowance for both Limited Access General Category – Northern Gulf of Maine (LAGC-NGOM) and Limited Access General Category – Individual Fishing Quota (LAGC-IFQ) permit holders to continue fishing for scallops in the MA state waters portion of the NGOM after the NGOM TAC is harvested. Federal regulations allow that “(a) state may be eligible for a state waters exemption if it has a scallop fishery and a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP” (50 CFR §648.54(a). The Commonwealth’s primary scalloping grounds exist in Cape Cod Bay and along the backside of the Cape. A secondary state waters scallop fishery is conducted in Ipswich Bay, which is included in the NGOM scallop management area. DMF Statistical Areas 1-4 equate to the Massachusetts state waters portion of the NGOM (Figure 2). DMF will consider all comments (written comments must be received by 5PM on Friday, October 21st) in making a final decision whether or not to submit a request for a NGOM state waters exempted scallop fishery for the 2017 fishing year. NMFS has final approval of any request made. 12:26

At one time, they were close collaborators. Great White Shark researchers spar over studies off Cape Cod

ar-160919425In 2012, OCEARCH operated under state Division of Marine Fisheries shark scientist Gregory Skomal’s federal permit to catch and tag great white sharks off Chatham. The next year, with Skomal again on board, the state allowed the big Alaskan crab boat the organization uses into state waters, less than 3 miles offshore. This June, citing concerns that any additional research on great white sharks within state waters could jeopardize a five-year population study led by Skomal, Division of Marine Fisheries Director David Pierce denied OCEARCH’s application for a research permit to catch great whites off Monomoy. “I’m concerned your proposed work would compromise our research by jeopardizing our study’s validity,” Pierce wrote to OCEARCH president Christopher Fischer in his June 30 letter denying the permit for state waters. In January, OCEARCH received a federal research permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s highly migratory species program to capture and tag a total of 75 sharks of varying species, including eight great whites, anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the Atlantic coast. Read the story here 14:16