Cod Is Dead—Is Dogfish the Answer?

doug-feeney-chatham-fisherman-dogfish-2On a wind-tossed autumn morning off the Cape Cod coast, the aft deck of Doug Feeney’s 36-foot fishing boat, the Noah, is buried beneath a squirming, slimy, shin-deep layer of sharks. The Noah’s hauler growls under the weight of the 300-hook long line emerging from the froth-tipped Atlantic. The reek of gasoline mingles with salt. A procession of small gray sharks, each pierced neatly through the jaw by a steel hook, materializes from the depths. Feeney, a lean fisherman whose goatee and hoop earrings lend him a vaguely piratical mien, yanks the sharks from the line with the steady rhythm of an assembly-line worker. A drained cup of coffee perches on the dashboard; James Taylor warbles on the radio. “Twenty-five years ago we’d catch 10,000 pounds of these things every day,” Feeney shouts over the roar of the engines and “Fire and Rain.” “We’d just throw ’em back over the side.” Like many Chatham fishermen, Feeney is a jack-of-all-trades. He gillnets monkfish in early spring, he trolls for bluefin tuna in late fall. But no species occupies more of his energy than the spiny dogfish, the dachshund-size shark now piling up on the Noah’s deck.  Read the story here 09:27

Rules tightened on shark fin removal at sea

spiny dogfishInterstate regulators are tightening the restrictions on the last species of shark that can have its fins removed at sea in the U.S. Smooth dogfish are the only sharks from which American fishermen can remove fins at sea. Many other sharks can be hunted, but fins can’t be removed until processing on land. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Tuesday to approve a new rule that allows fishermen to bring smooth dogfish to land with fins removed, as long as their total retained catch is at least 25 percent smooth dogfish. Right now, they can bring ashore as many as they choose. The rule change would better incorporate the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 into management of the dogfish, staff with the fisheries commission said. The dogfish are harvested from Rhode Island to North Carolina, and are among the many shark species that fishermen bring to land in states from Maine to Texas. Sharks are also hunted for their meat, but their greatest value is in their fins, which are used to make shark fin soup. Read the rest here 17:33

Taste-test unwraps flavor of shark fishery’s potential – Commercial Fisherman Dewey Hemilright was on hand

shark-1-1-330x236The third and final tasting event in the North Carolina Sea Grant Shark Sensory Evaluation has come and gone.,, Commercial Fisherman Dewey Hemilright was on hand to expand on Mirabilio’s presentation. Hemilright is an advocate for North Carolina commercial fishermen, a tireless educator and is active in Outer Banks Catch and the N. C. Coastal Federation and other related organizations. “These taste testing put on by Sea Grant, Sara and Cafe Lachine are most important in the future success in bringing cape shark to the consumer plates here in the U.S.,” said Hemilright. “Sara did an awesome job presenting. She gets it! This fishery is sustainable and is not overfished.” Read the rest here 09:23

What killed the sharks off Lavallette?

Barbara Macheska of Toms River counted more than a dozen dead sand sharks over the past month during her nearly half-mile walks on the beach near her barrier island home. “About a month ago, in a three day period, I found 10 sand sharks. The majority were barely alive,” she said. “Last week I found seven more.” The dead sharks were so numerous that the state  was alerted. Caryn Shinske, a spokeswoman for the department, said a large number of dogfish, a sand-colored bottom-feeding small shark, had washed ashore in Ocean County in recent weeks. (We found no reference to dogfish washing ashore in Ocean County) Read the rest here  17:17

A Must Read! FishNet USA / Dogfish and seals and dolphin, oh my!

The bottom line is that while commercial fishermen from North Carolina to Maine are at work catching on the order of half a million mt of fish and shellfish a year, it appears as if it takes an annual 20,000,000 tons or more to keep all those marine mammals and low-value spiny dogfish and various other predatory fish going. How much of that 20 million tons is commercially/recreationally valuable species or the forage species that sustain them? No one seems awfully interested in finding that out, but they sure should be. Read the rest here 10:55